NEW YORK: Tesla has pulled the plug on Internet sales of its cheapest Model 3 sedan in the latest shift to the company’s retail strategy.
The electric car maker plans to keep taking online orders for the Standard Plus Model 3, which starts at $39,500 and is now the lowest-price option available to digital consumers, along with higher-end models.
But online customers will no longer be able to order the Model 3 Standard for $35,000, a long-promised price for a vehicle that has been seen as essential to Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk’s ambition to disrupt the auto industry.
“Model 3 Standard will now be a software-limited version of the Standard Plus, and we are taking it off the online ordering menu, which just means that to get it, customers will need to call us or visit any one of the several hundred Tesla stores,” Tesla said in a blog post on Thursday night.
The shift was needed to “simplify our production operations to better optimize cost, minimize complexity and streamline operations,” the company added.
The announcement reverses Tesla’s announcement on February 28 that the $35,000 model could only be purchased online. At the time, Tesla also announced plans to close many of its retail stores, but later retreated on that plan.
The phasing-out of online Model 3 Standard sales comes a week after Tesla announced disappointing first-quarter car deliveries. A challenge to vehicle demand has been the lowering of a US tax credit on Tesla vehicles to $3,500 from $7,500 previously.
Tesla unveils ambitious full self-driving chip for next-generation vehicles
SAN FRANCISCO: U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla unveiled a new full self-driving (FSD) chip for its next-generation autonomous vehicles.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors during the company’s Autonomy Day that FSD-powered computers will turn its electric cars into self-driving vehicles without human intervention.
He said all new models of Tesla cars including Model 3, X and S have been equipped with the chips featuring full self-driving capabilities, but the next-generation chip, which is currently under development, would be “three times better” than the existing system.
Musk said Tesla will probably have more than 1 million cars with full driving capabilities running on the road by 2020.
“Probably two years from now, we’ll make a car with no steering wheels or pedals,” he said. He predicted the new powerful FSD chip will come out in two years.
Musk touted his company’s FSD technology while mocking the LIDAR technology by calling it a “fool’s errand.”
Facebook hires high-ranking US State Department lawyer
SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook said Monday it has hired a high-ranking US State Department lawyer credited with helping craft the controversial Patriot Act as the social network’s new general counsel.
Jennifer Newstead will replace Colin Stretch, who announced in July that he planned to leave Facebook.
Newstead will oversee global legal functions at the California-based social network as it faces continued pressure from regulators regarding how well it safeguards user privacy and protects against the spread of misinformation or abuse on its platform.
“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement.
“We are also truly grateful to Colin for his dedicated leadership and wise counsel over the past nine years.”
Newstead was the first woman to lead the Office of the Legal Adviser at the State Department, a post she took in January 2018.
Samsung delays launch of folding Galaxy smartphone
SAN FRANCISCO: Samsung said Monday it was delaying the launch of its folding smartphone after trouble with handsets sent to reviewers.
Some reviewers who got their hands on the Galaxy Fold early reported problems with screens breaking.
Samsung said it decided to put off this week’s planned release of the Fold after some reviews “showed us how the device needs further improvements.”
The South Korean consumer electronics giant planned to announce a new release date for the Galaxy Fold in the coming weeks.
Initial analysis of reported problems with Galaxy Fold screens showed they could be “associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge,” Samsung said.
There was also an instance where unspecified “substances” were found inside a Galaxy Fold smartphone with a troubled display, according to the company.
“We will take measures to strengthen the display protection,” Samsung said.
“We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer.”
A handful of US-based reporters were given the flagship Galaxy Fold phones, priced at $1,980, ahead of the model’s official release, and they reported screen issues within days of using the devices.
Samsung spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold, which is part of the leading smartphone maker’s strategy to propel growth with groundbreaking gadgets.
The company essentially gave reviewers a “beta product” without enough information, such as not to peel off a protective coating meant to be permanent, according to independent technology analyst Rob Enderle.
“It was all avoidable for a company the size of Samsung,” Enderle said.
The failure of a “halo product” meant to showcase innovation and quality could tarnish the brand and send buyers to rivals.
“If a halo product fails, people don’t trust that you build quality stuff,” Enderle said.
“It can do incredible damage. And Huawei is moving up like a rocket, so this could be good for Huawei.”