cars can now take on human players in a game of chess, thanks to a . Its programmers likely didn’t imagine they were designing a chess program to take on the best players in the world, however: U.S. No. 1 ranked chess player Fabiano Caruana (also currently ranked No. 2 in the world) played a Tesla Model 3 in a recent match… but Deep Blue versus Kasparov, this was not. Caruana bests the vehicle in just under five minutes of playing time, and he’s not particularly stressing the time, plus he’s offering a running commentary. The car makes some questionable moves, but to be fair, it’s not a super computer with deep artificial intelligence, and Caruana is one of the world’s best. He also gives it credit at the end, calling the game “challenging” and you can hear it’s probably more than he was expecting from a car’s infotainment system. The car would probably beat me, but I’m unranked and haven’t played a game of chess in probably 15 years, so there’s that.
cars can now take on human players in a game of chess, thanks to a . Its programmers likely didn’t imagine they were designing a chess program to take on the best players in the world, however: U.S. no. 1 ranked chess player Fabiano Caruana (also currently ranked no. 2 in the world) played a Tesla Model 3 in a recent match… but Deep Blue vs. Kasparov, this was not. Caruana bests the vehicle in just under five minutes of playing time, and he’s not particularly stressing the time, plus he’s offering a running commentary. The car makes some questionable moves, but to be fair, it’s not a super computer with deep artificial intelligence, and Caruana is one of the world’s best. He also gives it credit at the end, calling the game “challenging” and you can hear it’s probably more than he was expecting from a car’s infotainment system. The car would probably beat me, but I’m unranked and haven’t played a game of chess in probably 15 years so there’s that.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk checks out the newly unveiled Model Y. (Tesla via YouTube) Tesla CEO Elon Musk finished spelling out an all-electric acronym by lifting the veil on the Model Y, a crossover SUV that’s due to hit the market in the fall of 2020. “We are bringing ‘sexy’ back, quite literally,” he told hundreds of Tesla fans who gathered for the Hollywood-style unveiling at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. Musk didn’t quite literally lift a veil to reveal the new model. Instead, he built up the suspense by giving an “extended history lesson” about Tesla’s decade-long history of vehicle production, starting with the Tesla Roadster and moving on to the Model S, Model X, Model 3, the Semi truck and the remade Roadster. Along the way, Musk explained the ins and outs of his naming convention, including the fact that he couldn’t use the name “Model E” because Ford had it trademarked. “Ford killed SEX,” Musk joked. As he described the vehicles, each model was driven into the spotlight. Finally it was the Model Y’s turn. Cheers and whoops went up from the crowd as a shiny blue car pulled into its place alongside the Model S, 3, X. Y completed the acronym. The car looks as much like the Model 3 as Tesla’s Model X SUV looks like the Model S sedan. The similarities between the designs are intentional, because that commonality is expected to speed development — thus avoiding the “production hell” that marked the Model 3’s birth. A chart projected on the screen with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in an inset image shows the basic statistics for different versions of the Model Y. Click on the image for a larger version. (Tesla via YouTube) Musk laid out the basic statistics for four variants of the Model Y: The Standard Range model will be the cheapest, carrying a price tag of $39,000 and offering a maximum range of 230 miles and top speed of 120 mph. The $60,000 Performance model will be the most expensive variant, with a 280-mile range and a 150 mph top speed. The $47,000 Long Range model is projected to go 300 miles on a charge, while the Dual Motor AWD version prices out at $51,000. Tesla says the three more expensive versions will be ready for delivery in the fall of 2020, while the Standard Range model will go on the market in the spring of 2021. Orders are . All four variants will have a panoramic glass roof, 66 cubic feet of interior space and can seat up to seven, Musk said. “It has the functionality of an SUV but it will ride like a sports car,” he said. Some analysts wonder whether the promise of the Model Y will hurt sales of the Model 3, as buyers decide to wait for the newer model. Musk insisted that Model 3 sales would rise dramatically over the next year, making the sorts of optimistic projections that when he put them in a tweet. “We’ve made 550,000 vehicles, something like that,” he said. “Twelve months from now, we will have made about a million vehicles.” Musk was even more optimistic about Model Y sales. “I’m confident that of any midsize SUV, it’ll be the one you want,” he said. “I think it’ll probably sell … I think we’ll probably do more Model Y’s than S, X and 3 combined, most likely. So there you have the S3XY presentation.” On other topics: Musk said ramping up production of the Model 3 and dealing with controversies ranging from a to a made for a rough year. “2018 felt like aging five years in one,” he said. He indicated that battery production for the Model 3 has stabilized to the point that Tesla can start ramping up production of electricity-generating solar roof tiles and Powerwall home-battery installations. “This is definitely going to be the year of the solar roof and the Powerwall,” Musk said. Referring to one of his other day jobs as CEO at SpaceX, Musk half-jokingly said “we will be driving a Tesla on Mars” in 10 years. “I think we actually could.”
MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski shows off a drum-sized, 350-horsepower electric motor that will soon be hooked up to an airplane propeller at the company’s lab in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) REDMOND, Wash. — An electric-propulsion company called MagniX shifted its headquarters from Australia to Redmond just a few months ago — but it’s already revving up for takeoff. The venture, owned by Singapore-based , is on track to conduct its first flight tests with an all-electric motor installed in a converted plane by the end of the year, CEO Roei Ganzarski told GeekWire this week during a tour of MagniX’s digs. The two-story office space in Redmond already houses more than 15 employees, and Ganzarski plans to hire 20 more in the next three months, mostly in engineering. Roughly 50 more employees are working at MagniX’s facility in Arundel, about 40 miles south of Brisbane on Australia’s Gold Coast. MagniX’s baby sits on a test stand in the Redmond facility’s lab: a round electric motor that weighs about 110 pounds and is small enough to fit inside a carry-on bag. Looks can be deceiving, however: That drum-sized Magni 250 motor can churn out 350 hp. The Magni 250’s specifications make it possible to power an eight- to 15-passenger airplane like the Cessna Caravan. And MagniX is gearing up to produce a 220-pound version, the Magni 500, which will put out 750 hp at 1,900 rpm. That’s even more suited to replace internal combustion engines in existing planes. “Welcome to electric aviation,” Ganzarski said. He compared MagniX’s position in the aviation industry to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s position in the automotive industry. “Look back seven years at electric cars,” Ganzarski said. “No one said it could be done. Everyone pooh-poohed Elon Musk at Tesla. ‘There’s not enough batteries, you won’t get the range, it’s not as good as a traditional car.’ And he had the vision to say, ‘No, we’ll make it happen, and that will start the ripple effects.’ Lo and behold, it did. Every car manufacturer has an electric car.” MagniX’s business plan calls for starting small: Ganzarski said he already has an airplane manufacturer lined up to install MagniX’s electric-propulsion system into Cessna-class airplanes, plus an operator that’s primed to fly the converted aircraft on routes with a range of roughly 100 miles. “We’re not talking about a 737 or a private jet,” he said. “They fly short distances. Look at a FedEx feeder, look at a look at a . … These are all 10-, 20-, 30-minute flights.” Just as the Tesla Roadster blazed the trail for Tesla’s Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y, those short-range flights could blaze a trail for low-cost, zero-emission flights that take advantage of thousands of underused regional airports in places like Moses Lake and Ellensburg, Wash. Ganzarski said electric aviation could bring a 70 to 80 percent reduction in flight costs. And if that comes to pass, it could open up whole new opportunities in air transportation. “If it’s that cheap to fly to Ellensburg, guess what? Maybe Amazon could do two-hour shipments to Ellensburg, instead of five-day shipments on a truck,” Ganzarski said. “Think about an airfield in Redmond or Issaquah, and Ellensburg. Suddenly Ellensburg could be a suburb of Seattle.” Could it really happen? And is MagniX the company to do it? The business model that Ganzarski has in mind is similar to what Kirkland, Wash.-based Zunum Aero is pursuing for its hybrid-electric aircraft. Zunum Aero won big-name backing from Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures, but it closing its next financing round. Ganzarski argues that MagniX has two advantages on its side: First, the company is going with an all-electric approach rather than Zunum’s more complex hybrid propulsion system. He drew another analogy to the auto industry: “If I’m selling hybrid today, I’m selling history.” The second advantage has to do with MagniX’s funding. Because it’s wholly owned by the Clermont Group, Ganzarski doesn’t have to worry about raising venture capital. “We are not a traditional startup,” he said. “We are not venture-backed, we are a fully funded company. Which means that I, as a CEO, and our company can focus on our long-term goal.” That goal, Ganzarski said, has everything to do with connections. “We’re both completely aligned on the vision of prosperity and connecting communities,” he said. “They also know that this isn’t an 18-month return. This isn’t an app that we’ll sell to somebody in 18 months and get an exit. This isn’t about that. This is about building a generational business that will have a positive impact on society. “None of us have options in the company,” Ganzarski said. “We’re not here because we think that one day we’ll be rich. We’re here with a mission. We want to be able to tell our grandkids that they’re all flying on clean, low-cost aircraft because of what we did in 2018 and 2019.”
Tesla has started offering the long-promised $35,000 standard version of its Model 3 electric car. (Tesla Photo) Tesla is finally following through on its pledge to sell its Model 3 electric cars at the standard price of $35,000, but says it’s shutting down on-the-spot showroom sales to remain “financially sustainable” at the lower price point. Going forward, worldwide sales will shift to online only, the company says. Many of Tesla’s stores will be shut down over the next few months, . A small number of stores in high-traffic locations will remain open as galleries, showcases and information centers, but would-be buyers will have to go online to close the deal. Tesla touted the ease of online sales: “You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about 1 minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide. We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla, so that a test drive prior to purchase isn’t needed. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free.” In a conference call with reporters, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said reducing overhead would boost the company’s long-term financial stability. “Ultimately this will be a very strong competitive strength for Tesla,” he said. The announcement came after Musk built up the mystery surrounding today’s 2 p.m. PT announcement. Some speculated that Tesla would lift the curtain on its Model Y crossover SUV, or provide a surprise sneak peek at the all-electric pickup truck that Musk said would be “something quite unique.” Instead, the announcement made good on Musk’s years-old promise that the Model 3 would be offered at the “affordable” base price of $35,000. Up to this point, Tesla had been selling only versions with longer range, steeper price tags and bigger profit margins. The standard Model 3 will have 220 miles of range, a top speed of 130 mph and the ability to go from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. There’ll also be a Model 3 Standard Range Plus that offers a 240-mile range, 140 mph top speed and zero-to-60 mph acceleration in 5.3 seconds, with a price tag of $37,000 before incentives. Tesla said the shift to online-only sales, plus “other ongoing cost efficiencies,” will open the way for reducing vehicle prices by an average of about 6 percent, “allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected.” Hitting the $35,000 price point should boost Tesla’s sales, but the move could also raise questions about the company’s profit margin. Musk acknowledged that Tesla is likely to report a loss for the first quarter of 2019, after turning a profit in the and of 2018. “Given that there is a lot happening in Q1, and we are taking a lot of one-time charges — there are a lot of challenges getting cars to China and Europe — we do not expect to be profitable.” Musk said. “We do think that profitability in Q2 is likely.” Tesla has also had to deal with a controversy sparked by Musk’s tweets about Model 3 production rates, which . Due to this week’s rush of developments, — including an after-hours dip that came in the wake of today’s announcement.