Leading the News
Tesla Introduces Less Expensive SUV, The Model X 60D.
The Wall Street Journal (7/13, Ramsey, Subscription Publication) reports that Tesla Motors Inc. has introduced a new version of its Model X SUV with a battery pack rated at 60 kilowatt-hours. The Model X 60D has a driving range of 200 miles.
TIME (7/13, Fitzpatrick) reports that the Model X 60D “starts at $74,000 before applicable government rebates,” compared to the “top-end version of the Model X, called the P90D,” which “starts at $115,500 and offers a range of 250 miles.” TIME says that the “cheaper SUV comes amid strong consumer demand for larger vehicles, although falling sedan sales have meant a weaker overall automotive market.”
CNN Money (7/13, Valdes-Dapena) reports that “besides its driving range, the 60D’s performance is similar to that of the 75D. Both can go from zero to 60 miles an hour in six seconds, according to Telsa, and have top speeds of 130 miles an hour.” CNN Money says that customers who “order now can expect to have their cars delivered in September.”
Digital Trends (7/13, Brown) reports that the “only difference between the Model X 60D and the 75D is the software block.” According to Digital Trends, “the 60D’s nominal range is 200 miles and the 75D can carry you 237 miles on a charge,” however “if at a later time you decide you really need the extra 37 miles per charge, you can pay $9,000 to unlock the software, wait for the download, and you’re good to go.” The Detroit Free Press (7/13, Gardner) reports that the new price is $9,000 less than the base price on the Model X 75D.
The Los Angeles Times (7/13, Peltz) reports that with the new 60D model, customers will have “the flexibility to choose the Tesla model, price point and range that best fits their lifestyle,” Tesla said. The LA Times says that the “price cut follows Tesla’s report this month that its second-quarter global deliveries of 14,370 – including 4,625 Model X vehicles – fell short of expectations.”
USA Today (7/13, Bomey) reports that Tesla said in a statement, “Model X is the safest, quickest and most capable sport utility vehicle in history, and existing Model X owners are loving their cars. Our versatile product platform and efficient manufacturing processes make it possible to seamlessly extend these types of compelling offerings to customers.”
Bidness Etc. (7/13) reports that Tesla made a similar move last month “with its flagship Model S sedan, as it re-introduced the 60kWh variant with a price cut of $4,000 from its previous base model.”
Analysis. In an analysis of the new Model X, Business Insider (7/13) says that it “will give customers a taste of the Tesla experience at a much more affordable price.” However, BI points out that “the $74,000 price doesn’t include many of the advanced features that make the higher-end Model X special, such as Autopilot, mono-post seating for seven, Bioweapon Defense Mode, and self-presenting doors.” If those options are added, “the price of the 60D shoots all the way up to $90,000.”
Seeking Alpha (7/13) says that there has been “plenty of positive feedback on the Model X development.” The starting price point “under $75K and lease payments as low as $800 bring a lot more buyers into the equation, notes industry watchers. Tesla needs that demand to scale up as planned.”
The Motley Fool (7/13) says that “Tesla’s decision to launch a lower-cost Model X is in line with the company’s recent moves to drive more demand for its vehicles as it continues to rapidly expand production.” In addition, “Tesla has also started ramping up its marketing efforts – expanding availability of Model X test drives and launching a 3-month tour across Tesla’s markets in which potential customers can spend time with the Model X.” Tesla Motors “is planning to deliver 50,000 vehicles in the second half of 2016 – up from about 29,300 vehicles in the first half of the year.”
Utah State University Engineering Dean Taking Position In Texas.
The Deseret (UT) News (7/13) reports that Christine Hailey, dean of Utah State University’s College of Engineering, is stepping down and has been named dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Texas State University. Hailey’s accomplishments include work as an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories for nine years.
King: Group With Ties To Obama Will Get No Special Treatment In College Purchase.
Politico (7/13, Emma, Hefling) reported that during a Politico Playbook Breakfast Wednesday, Education Secretary John King said he will “ensure the department’s decision about whether to approve” the sale of the parent company of the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit college, to a group of investors to investors that includes the Vistria Group, which was founded and run by longtime Obama friend Marty Nesbitt, and in which former Deputy Education Secretary Tony Miller is part, is “free from politics, free from political influence.” King, who “anticipates the decision will be made by the end of the president’s term,” said, “We’ll make sure a decision is made on the merits. … There will be no special treatment of any kind.”
NSF Gives Rowan University $2 Million To Expand Diversity In Engineering Program.
The Gloucester County (NJ) Times (7/13) reports the National Science Foundation has given New Jersey’s Rowan University a $1.9 million grant “to expand engineering opportunities to a more diverse population.” Professor Beena Sukumaran “will lead a team conducting research to improve diversity in engineering at the university.” The program, dubbed Rethinking Engineering Diversity, Transforming Engineering Diversity, is intended “to draw more women and underrepresented populations to the engineering department at Rowan.”
WHYY-FM Philadelphia (7/13) reports the program “will include everything from changes to admission standards, to developing a mentoring program, and curriculum adjustments.” The program will focus first on the “civil engineering department and then expand through the college of engineering.”
NSF Gives Marquette $1 Million For Computer Science Transition Program.
The Milwaukee Business Journal (7/13, Subscription Publication) reports the National Science Foundation has given Marquette University a $1 million grant “to fund a program that helps low-income, academically talented students with non-computing undergraduate degrees transition into a new career in computing.” The Change Opportunity – Start Masters in Computing (COSMIC) program “will train 24 adults in a customized curriculum that allows them to quickly change job paths to a career in computing.”
Research and Development
Researchers Detail Cybersecurity Threats To 3D Printing.
Science Daily (7/13) reports that a team of researchers and materials engineers at New York University has released a study saying that 3D printing “poses some of the same dangers unearthed in the electronics industry, where trusted, partially trusted, and untrusted parties are part of a global supply chain.” The study “examined two aspects of 3D printing that have cybersecurity implications: printing orientation and insertion of fine defects.”
Audi Working Towards Self-Driving Car.
CNBC (7/13, Nicholson) reports that Audi of America is pushing towards a self-driving car, with division president Scott Keogh convinced that his company is closer than its competition. Audi’s current autonomous model, Jack, can navigate freeways and traffic. “Jack is programmed to work on freeways in automated mode,” Audi Senior Engineer Kaushik Raghu said. “It doesn’t have all the antennas and the cables, and sensors sticking out. It just looks like a car that you can go buy at the dealership today.” Keogh said that the company will launch a similar model in 2018.
Honda Develops Electric Motor Not Requiring Rare-Earth Metals.
Automobile Magazine (7/13, Ogbac) reports Honda engineers have revealed a new electric motor to be used in hybrid vehicles. The engine is less expensive to construct and does not require rare-earth metals, like dysprosium and terbium. The first vehicle to be equipped with the motor will be a hybrid version of the Freed small minivan that was developed with Japanese metal supplier Daido Steel Co. Reducing rare-earth metals dependence has been a key in development process for automakers because of projections for increased demand and prices. China currently mines about 90 percent of rare earth metals, causing problems for companies based in Japan “after political and territorial disputes broke out between” the two countries. Ars Technica (7/13, Geuss) reports after China temporarily banned the export of rare earth metal to Japan, Honda upped efforts to develop technology not reliant on the metals.
Researchers Work To Control UAS With Their Minds.
The New York Post (7/13, Tousignant) reports Arizona State University’s Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab is working to develop technology to allow humans to control multiple UAS “using wavelengths generated by the person’s brain.” Director Panagiotis Artemiadis’ previous research focused on mind control of robotic prostheses, and was awarded $860,000 from DARPA and the US Air Force in 2014 for further work. According to a paper, an operator is able to “only” control four drones, but the researchers aim to increase the number to 20, and “eventually, hundreds,” with applications for the military, search-and-rescue, and surveillance.
Renault-Nissan Passes 340,000 In Plug-In Sales.
Inside EVs (7/13, Loveday) reports that Renault-Nissan has sold more than 340,000 plug-in electric cars, most of which were units of the Nissan Leaf. According to a press release, “Renault and Nissan engineers are working together on the development of Autonomous Drive, connectivity and other next-generation technologies for mass-market, mainstream vehicles. By partnering on advanced research and development, Renault and Nissan are able to work more efficiently, with less cost.”
Engineering and Public Policy
WSJournal Analysis: US Electric System Remains Vulnerable To Sabotage.
A Wall Street Journal (7/13, A1, Smith, Subscription Publication) analysis considers the vulnerability of the nation’s power grid to terror attacks, noting that while FERC has ordered utilities to better protect substations, tens of thousands of them remain vulnerable, putting the US electric system in danger of widespread and extended blackouts.
Senate Democrats Introduce Bill Pushing Carbon Capture Tax Credits.
The Hill (7/13, Henry) reports a bill has been introduced by Senate Democrats “to bolster carbon capture technology for fossil fuel power plants.” The bill, released yesterday by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Heidi Heitkamp, “would expand a federal research tax credit for carbon capture and sequestration technology at power plants.” Lawmakers signing on to the bill “noted broad support for the carbon capture research tax credit among industry groups, companies and environmental organizations.” However, “support for carbon capture tax credits isn’t unanimous” as “several green groups on Wednesday wrote a letter to Congress opposing new credits for carbon capture, especially as a way to expand oil recovery.”
New England State Pay Most In Energy Costs.
The Dallas Morning News (7/13) reports that according to WalletHub, Texas ranks No. 28 in energy costs, with Texans paying on average $289 per month on energy including electricity, gasoline, natural gas, and heating oil. “Connecticut, the researchers say, is the most expensive state for energy prices and its New England neighbors Massachusetts (2nd), Rhode Island (3rd) and Vermont (4th) fill the top four. Washington is the least expensive.”
Kentucky Governor Announces New Workforce Training Initiative.
Louisville (KY) Business First (7/13, Subscription Publication) reports that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has unveiled “a new skills-training program designed to develop an elite workforce that can meet the industry demands of employers and provide better wages for Kentuckians.” The piece reports that the Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative is funded by a $100 million state bond issue intended “to deal with the state’s worker shortage.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• Senate Votes To Go To Conference On Energy Modernization Bill.
• DOJ To Investigate Whether Bridgepoint Education Violated Federal Aid Rules.
• UM Professor Working On Carbon Dioxide Device.
• Survey: Tech Companies Planning Hiring Push.
• CNPC: Chinese Energy Consumption To Peak By 2035.
• Jaguar Land Rover To Test Semi-Autonomous Features.
• Bongino: Congress Must Demand Swifter Action On Everglades Restoration.