Expert Blog

The inside track, V3

Welcome back to the Inside Track, where we gather some of the past month’s best stories about the future of motoring.

Here’s our latest selection:

  • There’s much ado about the Tesla Model 3, which Elon Musk describes as his company’s first ‘mass-market, affordable car’. Around £7 billion worth of pre-orders were placed for the electric sedan in the first two days after it was announced in early April. But will it meet its release date? The Daily Beast’s Edward Niedermeyer has his doubts. As he puts it, ‘Tesla plans on launching the Model 3 in the last quarter of 2017, and given the firm’s consistent inability to meet its previous self-imposed deadlines, it seems more than likely that the people lined up today won’t actually take delivery of their Model 3 until well into 2018.
  • Others are less cynical. The tech guru Ben Thompson even thinks that there are similarities between the Model 3 and the iPhone. ‘Nearly 300,000 people have willingly parted with $1,000 despite the fact they will not have a chance to purchase a car for years; an astounding 115,000 of them sent in their deposit before they even knew what the car looked like. A friend got in line to make his reservation at 6:45am and there were 123 people in front of him. This is, no matter how you measure it, a phenomenon that is nearly unprecedented; the only possible comparison is Apple and its iPhone.'
  • And, in a blog-post for Slate, Phil Plait is heartened by Musk’s emphasis on combatting climate change. ‘The Tesla house battery, Solar City, even SpaceX - all of Musk’s projects have their eye on a future where we can put King Coal where he belongs, where he started: buried in the ground.’
  • From electric to self-driving, a piece at Vox talks about how autonomous cars could make traffic lights obsolete. It cites this video by the brainboxes at MIT, which shows how cars could avoid collisions at intersections by communicating with each other wireless, rather than by relying on red and green lights. Except it’s not quite so simple as that, as Vox’s Brad Plumer explains: ‘this also raises some difficult urban-planning questions. Slot-based intersections obviously don’t work for places where pedestrians need to cross. Or for bicycles. So what do you do there? More broadly, accommodating people who walk or bike is going to be a major challenge for autonomous vehicles.’

Keep an eye out for the Inside Track V4, which will be published next month!

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