June 16, 2019
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The Boring Company

Tesla Model Y orders are now open

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Customers can already place an order for the Tesla Model Y, a mid-sized crossover SUV that won’t go into production until 2020.

Tesla requires a $2,500 deposit to complete the order for the all-electric vehicle, according to information posted on its website. A disclaimer on the order form states that “production is expected to begin late next year.” Under that timeline, deliveries wouldn’t begin until late 2020 or possibly early 2021.

There are other clues on the order page, including that the seven-seat interior won’t be available until 2021. The Model Y will come standard as a five seater.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Model Y on Thursday night at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles. During the presentation, Musk didn’t mention that customers could order the Model Y. That’s a departure from previous events, notably the Model 3 reveal in March 2016, which prompted thousands of people to put down $1,000 deposits.

The Model Y bears a striking resemblance to Model 3, and for good reason. The Model Y shares about 75 percent of the same parts as the Model 3.

The vehicle, which will come in a standard, long range, dual-motor all-wheel and performance variants, is larger than the Model 3, allowing it to accommodate seven people (for those who opt to pay the $3,000 up charge). The order page of the Model Y shows that it comes standard as a 5-seater. To get the 7-seater configuration, customers have to pay an additional $3,000.

The Model Y also sits higher than the Model 3, a distinction that is more obvious once you’re sitting inside. One of the most distinguishing differences is the Model Y has a panoramic roof.

The standard range version will start $39,000 and have 230 mile range. However, Tesla will first produce the performance, dual-motor and long range versions. Customers who want the standard range version of the Model Y will have to wait until at least spring 2021. The performance and dual motor variants will be able to travel 280 miles on a single charge, while the long-range version will, as it sounds, have the longest range at 300 miles.

All of the variants are designed to have the same kind of performance as its smaller sibling. The performance version of the Model Y will be able to travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 mph.

But that kind of performance comes at a higher price. The performance version will start at $60,000. The dual motor variant will start at $51,000 and the base price of the long-range version will be $47,000.

How to watch Elon Musk unveil the Tesla Model Y

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Tesla is scheduled to reveal the Model Y — the next electric vehicle in electric automaker’s lineup — tonight at an event in Los Angeles after, not months, but years of teasers and hints from CEO Elon Musk .

Tesla will live stream the Model Y unveiling event at 8 pm PT via its website. However, folks who want to watch the event should head over to the site ( prior to the 8 pm start time. There is a registration process. Once completed, a new page pops up with the message “Thank you for registering. We will send you an invite in the hours leading up to the event.”

TechCrunch will be at the event to hunt for other interesting tidbits about the Model Y as well as possibly get a ride in the compact SUV. Stay tuned.

What to expect

Details about the compact SUV are scant, although Musk has provided some information leading up to the March 14 Tesla Model Y event.

The Model Y is expected to be 10 percent bigger than the Model 3 and cost 10 percent more, according to Musk. It will have the same battery as the Model 3, but its beefier profile will mean “slightly less” range than the Model 3.

Tonight’s event should answer many, but not all questions. Expect more information on the vehicle specs such as range and performance, two favorite go-tos for Musk. Price could be revealed as well. Those kinds of splashy data points can create buzz and attention. But TechCrunch is more interested in the how, than the what.

What we’ll be watching for is any information about where the Model Y will be produced, a production timeline, and what manufacturing strategy the company plans to pursue. TechCrunch will also be paying attention to how Tesla handles reservations for the Model Y.

Some of Tesla’s biggest problems stem from how it builds its electric vehicles. The company emphasized highly automated systems and then backed away from that approach. (Remember the tent?)

Why it matters

Model 3 has long been considered Tesla’s most important car. And it still is. Without continued sales of the Model 3, Tesla will lack the necessary capital to produce the Model Y.

Meanwhile, the Model Y, if Tesla can apply all of the lessons it learned from its troubles with the Model 3 production, could be a smash hit for the automaker. More importantly, Musk is counting on the Model Y to hit the company’s goal of delivering 1 million cars by 2020.

Americans are still lusting after SUVs, particularly smaller ones,  and it’s an appetite that has grown beyond U.S. borders and into other important markets such as China.

Elon Musk’s ‘vision for transport’ is a 3D network of tunnels for autonomous electric vehicles

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Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s vision of an “entirely new system of transport,” which he unveiled Wednesday night at a splashy event in Hawthorne, California, wasn’t a reusable rocket like the ones he’s building at his nearby SpaceX headquarters. Nor is it an electric vehicle, like the Teslas he is producing at a factory in Fremont, California.

Tonight, Musk showed off a 1.14-mile test tunnel — that snakes its way underneath 120th Street in the city of Hawthorne — that his other business, the Boring Company, dug for about $10 million using a modified boring machine called Godot. (That $10 million figures includes the cost of building the tunnel, all internal infrastructure, lighting, 
communication and video, safety systems, ventilation, and track, according to the company.) For Musk, this is merely a demonstration of what could be: a network of low-cost tunnels used for transportation, utilities or water and built for millions of dollars, or even billions less than those constructed for subways or trains.

These tunnels, which at about 12-feet in diameter are smaller than a subway, are cheaper to build thanks to the company’s boring machines, Musk and Boring Company president Steve Davis contend.

The tunnels could be stacked — Musk calls it a 3D network — and operate like a giant underground highway with vehicles entering and exiting at strategic points along the way via ramp, spiral or elevator depending on available space. The main tunnel would allow vehicles, which are stabilized via a retractable tracking wheels, to travel up to 150 miles per hour. Once a vehicle leaves the main artery, speeds would be reduced. (The retractable tracking wheels are important, new development; Musk said they originally were going to place the vehicles on a skate, which would travel at high speeds, but ditched the idea because it was too “complex.”

These entry points could take as little room as two parking spaces for an elevator, Musk said, which TechCrunch was able to attest to, at least with the demonstration tunnel.

“You can weave these stations throughout the fabric of the city without changing the character of the city, Musk said during a press briefing.

There are some important caveats to this system. This is a concept; it currently doesn’t exist at the scale Musk envisions, although there are numerous cities and utilities interested. (Davis noted they get between 5 and 20 requests or inquires a day from municipalities and utilities).

And only autonomous, electric vehicles would be allowed in the Loop, as The Boring Company is calling the concept. A Tesla Model X was used in the demo Wednesday night, although Musk insisted during a press briefing that “this is not some walled garden or something only for Teslas.”

The Loop would also have dedicated vehicles for pedestrians and bicyclists that Musk speculated could cost about $1 a ride, if shared. The vehicles designated for public transport would run in a loop and get priority.

The demo ride

TechCrunch’s ride through the Hawthorne test tunnel began near 120th street and Prairie Avenue, next to a nondescript building — “The Brick Store” stenciled discreetly on one side — that only stood out because of all the security surrounding it. The Model X had been outfitted with the  retractable wheels, which Musk said would be an aftermarket product that might cost between $200 and $300.

Once the vehicle descended, the test driver slowly accelerated to about 44 mph through the tunnel, back towards Crenshaw and 120th Street. The tunnel, hazy with dust from the construction, and lit by neon-like lighting, delivered a bumpy-ish ride on occasion. Musk later explained that this was because they had some trouble with the paving. A system for the public would be much smoother, he said.

The entry point, near the Brick Store, provides an important link to the Boring Company story and vision. Earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that Musk has started a company called The Brick Store LLC to produce and sell bricks, according to public documents. The new company, which was founded in July, will be managed by Davis, the ex-SpaceX engineer who is also running The Boring Company (TBC).

The plan, is for the Boring Company to use the dirt extracted during the boring process to produce bricks, which will cost $0.10 a brick, Musk said.

The next step for the Boring Company is to develop its next generation boring machine, the Line Storm (refernce to a Robert Frost poem) and eventually Prufrock, which will deliver a 15-fold cost savings to current technologies, Musk said.

And that’s just the beginning.

“The Loop is just a stepping stone to the hyperloop, Musk said, in reference to the high-speed futuristic mode of transport he first floated in a white paper several years ago. “the Loop will be transport within cities and the hyperloop will be transport between them.”

The Boring Company goes brick-and-mortar with The Brick Store

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Elon Musk has shot out some crazy, unbelievable tweets over the last year, but he wasn’t joking about the bricks. Musk has started a company called The Brick Store LLC to produce and sell bricks, according to public documents obtained by TechCrunch.

The new company, which was founded in July, will be managed by Steve Davis, the ex-SpaceX engineer who is also running The Boring Company (TBC).

TBC is developing new tunneling and transportation technologies, and the bricks will be made from soil displaced by the company’s tunnel-boring machines. Elon Musk has tweeted that the bricks could cost as little as 10 cents each, and might even be given away to affordable housing projects.

The Brick Store’s first physical outlet will be a far cry from Tesla’s sleek, designer showrooms. Planning documents submitted to Hawthorne, a city in southwestern Los Angeles County, show a rundown stucco building about a mile from TBC and SpaceX’s headquarters. Forbidding black steel security grilles “will be utilized … to accent the entrances and windows,” TBC wrote in its application to repaint the building.

Despite these design flourishes, TBC did not select the building for its aesthetic appeal. The building — formerly housing a kitchen cabinet business — is located above an exit tunnel that TBC is digging to extract the boring machine from its first test tunnel. This is intended to showcase Loop, a proposed underground transportation system carrying people or cars on self-contained electric skates traveling at up to 150 miles per hour.

The tunnel was originally planned to stretch around two miles under public roads from a parking structure next to SpaceX. However, in April this year, TBC used a subsidiary to quietly buy the Hawthorne corner lot, which sits about halfway along the planned route, for $2 million.

In July, TBC asked Hawthorne for permission to use that lot to build an access shaft to extract its tunnel-boring machine, which, because it cannot move backwards, would otherwise have been abandoned at the end of the excavation.

The same month, Musk founded The Brick Store, whose purpose, according to state filings, is the “manufacture and sale of bricks.” TBC has already produced some structures from bricks made from tunnel spoil, and Musk tweeted yesterday that they would be used to build a watchtower at the entrance to the tunnel.

Turning tunnel waste into a valuable commodity fits in with Musk’s environmental leanings — and will save TBC from the cost of disposing all that dirt. TBC has even suggested that the bricks could potentially be used as part of the tunnel lining itself. Musk has previously said that the tunnel would officially open on December 10.

TBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story.

Bricks made from everyday soil, usually called compressed earth blocks (CEB), date back to ancient times. CEBs are still used in developing countries today, and are part of building codes in California and New Mexico. But even there, the market for them is tiny — possibly because CEB buildings can be awkward to build, wire and insulate. BC has even suggested that the bricks could potentially be used as part of the tunnel lining itself.

Dwell Earth sells machines that produce CEBs by applying pressure to a mixture of earth and a little cement.

“Elon seems to have a way of bringing energy and talent to big challenges, and we are happy to see that he may be as excited about [CEBs] as we are,” Dwell Earths founder Bob de Jong told TechCrunch.

TBC received around $112 million from Musk earlier this year. These funds will be used to build a number of tunnels around the country, including a Loop to connect Dodger Stadium to the subway in L.A., one that would link Chicago and O’Hare airport, as well as an ambitious commuter Loop between Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

These projects could be thwarted, or at least delayed, because of an increasingly heated trade war between the U.S. and China.

TBC lawyers wrote to the United States Trade Representative in July that the tariffs imposed by President Trump on Chinese-tunneling machine parts, among other products, would delay its projects by up to two years and mean lost job opportunities. The company asked for an exemption from the tariffs that has not yet been granted.

If there’s anyone who can re-brand dirt and build a market for CEBs, it’s Elon Musk. But even if The Brick Store’s bricks don’t raise enough money for a Mars mission or save the planet, at least they are a little more practical than a novelty “not a flamethrower.”

The Boring Company proposes hyperloop to Dodger Stadium

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The Boring Company announced a proposal yesterday to construct a 3.6 mile hyperloop to carry fans from the city directly to Dodger Stadium in less than four minutes for about $1.

This proposed loop, called the “Dugout Loop,” would run from Dodger Stadium to privately owned Boring Co. property in either the Los Feliz, East Hollywood or Rampart Village neighborhoods. To increase public transit use and in turn decrease traffic congestion, the company plans to build in the vicinity of the LA Metro Red Line and is currently choosing between three Red Line stations in the area. When the final path is determined, the tunnel would be built 30 to 44 feet below the surface of the ground, and even deeper when traveling under standing infrastructure like bridges.

Proposed Map of Dugout Loop

In theory, this emission-free tunnel system would help encourage Angelenos to use public transit and begin to shed the city’s car-clogged image and resulting smog.

The loop would consist of a single underground tunnel that runs under Vin Scully Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, two loop lifts (essentially elevators for the electric skates to bring them in and out of use) and ventilation/exit shafts. Each electric skate will be able to carry between 8-16 passengers.

To start, the Boring Co. plans to serve only about 2.5 percent (1,400 people) of the stadium’s capacity per event, with the potential to ramp it up to 5 percent based on feedback from the city and users. For a plan proposing to reduce traffic congestion in the city, these underwhelming numbers are unlikely to make a significant impact.

If the City of Los Angeles accepts the proposal, the Boring Co. says it would complete construction on the loop in 14 months. This would mark the second acceptance for the company following the proposal accepted by the City of Chicago earlier this summer to build a tunnel between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago. And if ground on the Dugout Loop was broken before the Chicago loop, it could mark the second tunnel built by the Boring Co.

However, the Dugout Loop is not the only proposal the city has received. In addition to Boring Co.’s tunnel, LA is considering a gondola proposal from Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies that would carry 5,000 passengers an hour far above the city traffic and deposit them at the stadium.

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