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7/31/2014
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Tesla Cars: 8 Hot Technologies

Tesla Motors' electric vehicles pack plenty of technology breakthroughs. Explore the most innovative features found in these computers on wheels.
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(Source: Tesla Motors)
(Source: Tesla Motors)

Just how much technology does a Tesla electric car deliver? Let's start with over-the-air software upgrades, a 17-inch capacitive touchscreen, and a sophisticated array of computer processors.

In fact, you can think of the vehicles essentially as computers you can drive -- complete with 3G wireless and WiFi connectivity.

It's no wonder the Tesla roadster and the Model S generate plenty of buzz despite their limited sales to date and their high price range (starting at $70,000). The much-anticipated Model X will add an SUV to the company's offerings in 2015. Tesla Motors is expected to sell 35,000 vehicles this year.

In 2017, the company plans to introduce the Model 3, a $35,000 electric vehicle, while rumors abound that Tesla Motors is working on a self-driving car.

We're focusing here on the technology in the cars themselves. But Tesla Motors has a tech-forward approach to everything it does, from the sophisticated robotics in its manufacturing plants to its direct sales strategy, which relies on e-commerce, something that is shaking up the automotive industry. In addition, its groundbreaking supercharger stations, which are designed to let drivers recharge their vehicles in the span of a lunch break, are being built out around the country.

Here are the eight hottest technologies in Tesla Motors' electric vehicles, including a look at what the future might hold. Do you drive a Tesla? If so, tell us what you love (or hate) about it. If you're admiring the vehicles from afar, let us know what intrigues you most. Did we leave any of your favorite Tesla Motors technologies off the list?

Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio

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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/5/2014 | 3:36:17 PM
Re: Great article, but...
@ThomasM513: Oh man, I'm so scared to go on a test drive...I might be tempted to cash in my retirement savings to buy one. In all seriousness, thanks for the correction about the key. There is so much about the Teslas that defy our common perceptions about how a car "should" function that it's easy to trip up. I particularly enjoy explaining to people that the tesla motor has only one moving piece, unlike typical combustion engines.

Tell me more about your test drive so I can live vicariously.

Did you end up buying one??
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 4:14:20 PM
Re: Love Me Some Tesla
@Susan,

Thanks for the feedback, this actually provides a level of confidence of similar car manufacturers providing a good level of service... since with the constant output of Hybrids and electric vehicles providing adequate support is essential to get buy off from the average joe :)
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
8/3/2014 | 5:26:17 PM
Re: Tesla Gigafactory
I think the innovations the Tesla bring are even more valuable that the car itself.  I liked the idea of the touch screen and the app to control various parts of the car remotely.  Now that everyone uses a Smartphone it will be a feature that other car manufactures will envy.
teslaliving
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teslaliving,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2014 | 5:37:53 PM
Re: Tesla feedback
3G is fine. The most use it gets is for the Google maps function and Slacker which I use all the time (mostly because the USB player is useless). Slacker on the Model S is actually really nice.

3G feels bad when you're using the browser but its really not 3G but a terrible browser. That thing needs to go if they're going to keep it. Its a nice perk but either needs to be replaced or deleted.

What I hate most is the USB music player. I used to listen to all my music on MP3 DVDs. There's no DVD or CD player just USB. USB music can't be shuffled. First world problem but its annoying that I cant shuffle in this day and age. 

The NAV system is #2 on the list. Its below the 2007 Acura I came from. Great displays/visuals. Poor navigation/routing. 

I love driving the car the most. Its so smooth, no gears, no shifting, its quick, quiet. Hard to describe. It never gets old. Never worrying about refuelling is nice too. Just plug it in at night like my phone.

They have about 40K units on the road so I wouldnt think thats early adopter but there are periodic reboots needed. Software updates were faster in the first 18 months and have slowed down as Tesla struggles to get 6.0 out while dealing with quirks of international markets.
ThomasM513
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ThomasM513,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2014 | 4:54:44 PM
Great article, but...
You really should have signed up for a test drive before writing the article. It's easy to do and I took a couple of drives before springing for a Model S. 

You'd have learned in a test drive that one doesn't "insert the key" into a Tesla. Like a few other cars, you just need to have the key inside the car, and then pressing on the brake will turn it on so you can put it in gear and go. Also, with the "tech package" you simply put the car in "park" and get out and walk away when you arrive at your destination. The Tesla takes care of itself (shuts down, locks  up, etc.) until you return with the key in your pocket or purse. 

Go get that test drive. But I'm warning you that you might get hooked! 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 1:51:13 PM
Tesla Gigafactory
Here's some international perspective on the Tesla battery factory from our colleagues at EETimes:

Is Tesla's Gigafactory a Gigablunder for Panasonic?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 1:40:22 PM
Re: Tesla feedback
@teslaliving: You may be the first actual Tesla driver to join our discussion, welcome! Good info there...thanks for the blog link. Sounds like you're suffering thru the tech quirks that come with being an early adopter.

How is the 3G/Wifi connectivity?

What do you like most about driving a Tesla?

What do you hate most?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 1:36:26 PM
Re: Wanted to admire the Tesla
@LiTan: Thanks, and you're right, there is a lot the company needs to do from a business and manufacturing standpoint. They are also facing challenges in U.S. state markets, where there are legal restrictions preventing automakers from selling direct to consumers--they have to sell thru franchised dealerships, and Tesla is trying to change how that business gets done. The company is getting resistance and possibly facing legal challenges in many U.S. states.

Another issue standing in their way is battery availability and cost...they need more than they can currently buy and until there's lithium ion battery availability for them on mass scale they're going to remain a niche player.
teslaliving
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teslaliving,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2014 | 7:59:08 AM
Tesla feedback
Since you asked, I have a lot of thoughts on the features/technology in the Model S which I cover here in my blog:

http://teslaliving.wordpress.com

I'd never want to give it up and love the car but there are some really glaring things like lack of a shuffle function in the USB music player, a GPS that has advanced displays but functionality is worse than circa-2007 era cars etc.

The software interface for the Model S isnt evolving as fast as they'd have you believe and they constantly miss dates. Owners are rebooting their consoles periodically to work around things. Just yesterday I had to reboot the big screen just to get the route line back on the GPS map. That was the only thing not working. Thats really odd.

Great car and cool company but still early days in the software and service areas. It sure is a joy to drive though.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 6:31:02 AM
Re: Wanted to admire the Tesla
As a Tesla fun, I do love this post - it summarized these key technologies very well. The key point is that, Tesla made not just a car but a moving computer. This is a fundamental change from conceptual level. The current problem is that, Tesla's product line is not so abundant yet - in other words, it needs to enlarge its fleet to gain more interest and market share.
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