🚘 See the stunning new interior of Tesla Model S

Musk Reads #232

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Last week, Musk Reads+ subscribers got an exclusive transcript and analysis of Tesla’s fourth-quarter 2020 earnings call. This week, subscribers will hear from Max Missoni, Polestar’s head of design, about how the future of electric vehicles is bubbling up from today’s design schools.

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Musk quote of the week

“First production car ever to achieve 0 to 60 mph in less than 2 seconds.”


Tesla

It’s official. On January 27, the day Tesla released its fourth-quarter 2020 earnings report, the company unveiled a dramatic refresh of the Tesla Model S and Model X. It features a more Model 3-like interior, rumored as far back as July 2018, with a horizontal central touchscreen and extra touchscreen for rear passengers. The built-in gaming system has 10 teraflops of power, which, on paper, rivals new consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 5.

Other changes include a new steering wheel, which more closely resembles ones seen on the second-generation Roadster prototypes. 

The new wheel lacks the stalks. Musk claimed on Twitter that the car would guess when users want to change driving mode based on the context.

The new Model S comes in three flavors:

  • A $78,490 dual motor version, with 412 miles of range, a top speed of 155 mph, and 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 3.1 seconds. Deliveries are estimated for March.

  • A $118,490 tri-motor “Plaid” version, with 390 miles of range, a 200 mph top speed, and 0 to 60 mph acceleration of just 1.99 seconds. Deliveries are estimated for March.

  • A $138,490 tri-motor “Plaid+” version, with over 520 miles of range, 200 mph top speed, and under 1.99 seconds acceleration time to 60 mph. This car is set to ship in late 2021.

On the Model X side, both of which are currently expected to reach customers in April:

  • An $88,490 dual motor model comes with 360 miles of range, 155 mph top speed, and 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 3.8 seconds.

  • A $118,490 tri-motor model comes with 340 miles of range, a 163 mph top speed, and 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 2.5 seconds.

Tesla is one of the many companies using a car configurator for its online orders, which one expert claims helps to create an “endowment effect” in buyers’ minds. Read more.

Beyond the new cars, Tesla’s earnings offered mixed results. While the company posted its sixth consecutive quarter of profit and first full year of profit, it also missed analyst expectations for earnings per share.


SpaceX

When will humans settle on other planets? Representatives of the firm gave guidance on this after Musk appeared on social networking site Clubhouse Sunday and SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell appeared at the Ramon Spacetech Conference last Monday.

  • Humans will reach Mars in “five and a half years,” Musk said. That places the deadline around 2026. That’s slightly later than Musk proposed in September 2017, when he suggested 2024, but it does confirm recent comments that SpaceX is aiming for 2026.

  • “We’ll see people start settling on other planets” in 10 years, Shotwell said. That would suggest a deadline of around 2031.

  • Shotwell also said that within 50 years “we’ll have a path that will allow us to fly to other worlds...we are trying to find a breakthrough in propulsion technology that allows us to go beyond the Moon, beyond Mars, beyond the entire Solar System.” That would mean the breakthrough could take place before 2061, or 100 years after Yuri Gagarin first went to space.

The Starship could enable those first trips to Mars. The Verge reported last week that the firm may find itself in trouble with the Federal Aviation Administration over the December 2020 hop test, which may have violated the terms of its license. This has helped delay the firm’s plans to try another hop test with a new “SN9” prototype.


In other Musk news…

  • During Musk’s Clubhouse appearance, he claimed human-computer brain linkup firm Neuralink had already successfully wired a monkey’s brain to play video games.

  • Musk also said that “I'm late to the party but I'm a supporter of Bitcoin.” During the discussion, Musk asked Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev “did something shady go down” during the recent GameStop price surge and subsequent debate.

  • SpaceX could be worth $60-92 billion after a new fundraising round, Business Insider reported, up from its $46 billion valuation in August 2020.

  • Axiom Space revealed which four private citizens will fly on its first SpaceX Crew Dragon launch. Read more.

  • A new Virgin Hyperloop video shows what it will be like to ride the 700 mph vacuum-sealed pod transit system. Read more.


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The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads #232, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

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