Insurance upstart Root announced a new insurance policy targeted to Tesla owners that promises cheaper rates based on the number of miles driven using the company’s Autopilot drivers assist feature.
Root requires drivers to download an app that uses GPS and other sensors on the phone to create a driving profile over a period of two or three weeks from which it can determine driver risk. Root then stops monitoring and accepts only the lowest risk drivers which to date has resulted in roughly 70% of drivers making the cut.
The lower rate incentive comes after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a crash investigation report that highlighted the safety benefits of Tesla’s Autosteer feature, stating that data obtained through the investigation showed “Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation”.
Root’s insurance program is focused on Tesla drivers using Root’s specific smartphone app, but the use of a smartphone app to determine driver specific risk based on actual driving data could easily be utilized for drivers of any vehicle type. Tesla gets the nod with this new plan as the Autopilot function will result in a lower risk profile.
It is likely that this is the first of many creative insurance plans attempting to ride on the coat tails of Tesla’s news of a potential ‘Tesla Insurance’ spinoff as a result of the vastly improved safety performance of autopilot-enabled Tesla vehicles.
Root shared that it has reached out to Tesla to extract realtime Autopilot usage data but has not received a response.
Tesla Inc — newly renamed after nearly 13 years as Tesla Motors Inc — is on the verge of what it says will be a massive expansion of production, with two new models due to arrive in the next two years.
As well as the much-hyped compact Model 3, Tesla is also expected to launch a compact crossover based on the same platform. The rumoured Model Y will, like the Model 3, be far more affordable than Tesla’s current offerings.
The starting price of the Model 3 is likely to be around $37,000 (£30,000), with the Model Y expected to be slightly more expensive. However, Tesla founder Elon Musk thinks the transaction prices of the new compact Teslas will be rather higher, at around £34,000 for the Model 3 and perhaps £37,000 for the Model Y, because buyers will be keen to add cost options to their vehicles.
While the compact Model Y could turn out to be Tesla’s best seller – some seven million crossovers of all types were sold in the US last year – Musk recently tweeted that the Model 3 remained the biggest priority for the company.
The Model Y is unlikely to be unveiled until some time next year, with production set to follow late in the year. Little in the way of specification has been released, but it’s likely to have the same tophinged ‘falcon wing’ rear doors as the bigger Model X SUV.
The Model Y will also have the promised updated electrical architecture that will allow Tesla to offer full autonomous driving capability. Future Tesla cars will be equipped with as many as eight cameras, giving a 360deg view of the surrounding roadscape, as well as 12 ultrasonic sensors and an unspecified ‘new’ forward-facing radar that works in the worst conditions. Existing radar systems can be fooled by heavy rain and fog.
Musk also said the new electrical architecture has a brain that is as much as “40 times” more powerful than on previous Teslas, calling it a “supercomputer inside the car”. The cost of adding the fully autonomous driving technology to the Model 3 and Y is likely to be nearly £7000 for each customer. Even then, local regulations could prevent all of the autonomous features being used by all drivers.
Another challenge for the Model 3 and Y will be balancing their lower price against the need for a battery big enough to give an acceptable range.
The entry-level Model 3 may have a cheaper, sub-60kWh battery but will still need to have a range of at least 230 miles. The Model Y’s more bluff shape and greater frontal area might mean a bigger battery for the same range, and so a slight price premium.
Tesla is in a race against time to achieve the kind of production levels needed to turn around what is still a cashhungry operation. The firm has spent nearly $2 billion (£1.6bn) since 2010, with investments including building the batterymaking Gigafactory and trying to expand car production to a massive 500,000 units a year.
Tesla delivered around 76,000 vehicles last year, but says it was able to build around 2000 cars per week by the second half of 2016. With as many as 400,000 deposits taken for the Model 3, the company is looking to produce well over 100,000 of the BMW 3 Series rival before the end of this year. Musk predicts Tesla should be capable of building 500,000 cars per year by 2019.
Musk’s expansion plans will test the limits of the capabilities of Tesla’s suppliers and those of his own plant in Freemont, California. But getting to annual sales of half a million vehicles should finally push the car maker into profit and secure the company’s long-term future.
The Tesla Model S, a large luxury sedan, earns good ratings in all IIHS crashworthiness evaluations except the challenging small overlap front crash test, in which it earns an acceptable rating. Despite lengthening the side curtain airbags to improve small overlap protection in the Model S, Tesla ran into problems in the test when the safety belt allowed the dummy’s torso to move too far forward. That allowed the dummy’s head to hit the steering wheel hard through the airbag. Measurements from the dummy indicated that injuries to the head, along with the lower right leg, would be possible in a real-world crash of the same severity.
The ratings for the Model S apply to 2016 and 2017 cars built after October 2016. Tesla says it made a production change on Jan. 23 to address the head-contact problem, and IIHS will test the updated vehicle for small overlap protection as soon as it can be delivered.
A fun, quirky perk about owning a Tesla is that you can always look forward to a new Easter Egg.
In the past, Tesla owners have been able to turn the car shown on their infotainment screen into the the submersible Lotus Esprit S1 from the James Bond movie, "The Spy Who Loved Me." They've also been able to virtually drive down "Mario Kart's" rainbow road.
Now, Model X owners can trigger a Christmas light show by holding the "T" button on their infotainment screen and entering the code "holiday." Doing so will prompt the Falcon Wing doors to swing open and a light show set to the tune of "Wizards in Winter" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra will begin:
Price Increase for Model S 60
On November 22, 2016 the base price of Model S 60 will be increasing by $2,000. Now is the time to get behind the wheel of a Tesla for as low as $737/month The Model S 60 can drive up to 218 miles on a single charge and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds.