The Tesla Semi: Ready or Not, Here it Comes

In what is becoming a tradition of sorts, Tesla motors has recently dropped another automotive bombshell with the announcement of an all-new, 100% electric semi truck. The Tesla semi sports some very impressive specifications, including an estimated 500-mile range. The superior torque output of electric vehicles is a natural fit for the commercial trucking industry and the Tesla semi exploits this fact with a payload of over 80,000 lbs and a blistering 0 to 60 acceleration of 20 seconds; 40 seconds faster than comparable diesel semi trucks.

The electric big rig was presented in two styles; a flat top, lower profile standard truck and the high-top aero model, which carries the sleek roofline up and over the cargo. Both versions will be rated as Class 8 with capacity for the heaviest loads, but with a modest range of 500 miles, they are expected to be targeted mostly for regional trucking. Although a long-haul version with a sleeper cab is said to be in the works, the regional trucking between ports and distribution centers accounts for about 80% of routes today, so demand is expected to be high for the Tesla Semi. In fact, PepsiCo recently announced an order for 100 of the first production Tesla Semis.

Tesla plans to follow a similar model to the one used in the development of their world class electric passenger vehicles. The impressive efficiency and class leading range is possible through the help of lightweight materials. The pre-production models introduced are constructed of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, however it is expected that production models will be made from aluminum, just as the passenger Tesla vehicles. Tesla also has revealed plans to launch a network of solar charging stations for the Semi, which will be quick-charge high output chargers capable of providing 400 miles of range with 30 minutes of charge. These charging stations can also be implemented at distribution centers and shipping terminals directly, allowing for virtually continuous use, especially on repeated routes.

The cab of the Tesla Semi is just as high tech and austere as one would expect from Tesla. The driver sits in the center of the vehicle, formula one style. The driver’s display is flanked on either side by large touch screen panels that allow a custom view of trip and vehicle metrics. Operators of these trucks will feel more like Captain Kirk piloting the Starship Enterprise. The Tesla Semi dazzles inside and out; on paper and in person. However, the verdict is still out as to whether the trucking community will welcome or shun the electric workhorse.

The Tesla Semi: Ready or Not, Here it Comes

The New Tesla Roadster

Even though it was the Tesla Semi truck that was the showstopper at last week’s Tesla event, the newly unveiled Roadster was also a runaway success, at least in the eyes of many industry professionals. Though doubts remain about CEO Elon Musk’s ability to run the company in the black, there’s no doubt that he has turned out an incredible piece of machinery.


Bent on “disrupting the automobile industry,” Tesla seems poised to do just that. With a 0-60 acceleration time of 1.9 seconds and a top speed of over 250 mph, Musk claims the Roadster will be one of the, if not the most, fastest production cars in existence. Throw in a 620 mile driving range and 10,000 Nm of torque, and you’ve got an electric car that can rival most gas-powered ones, none of whom can rival the overall metrics of the Roadster.


If there’s one drawback to Musk’s Tesla demonstration, it’s in the financials. The base price of the Roadster currently sits at $200,000, with a reserve price of $50,000. Unfortunately, there’s no word on the Model 3 that has 400,000 customers already in the wings, but it does shine a bright spot on the future of the company. Musk has already stated that he wants to hit a production rate of 5,000 Model 3s per week to meet the demand, which is convenient, since that’s also when the company will announce their first quarterly results for 2018.


Not everyone is convinced that the Model 3 will live up to the hype. Bloomberg reports that it is a “sedan plagued by production problems,” although there are reports that the first invites have been sent out to customers to pick up their Model 3s. Whether it continues remains up to the company. Regardless, Tesla needs the Roadster and the Model 3 to be a success, as reports are that the company is burning through $8,000 a minute, or nearly half-a-million every half hour.


Furthermore, the claim of a 0-60 speed of 1.9 seconds is also in doubt, since the fastest some professionals have been able to get the car to 60 is 2.3 seconds; the actual finished product may be significantly lighter than the ones out now, but matching that alongside a top speed of 250 MPH, faster than the take-off speed of a jet aircraft can be tricky.


Regardless of claims, there’s no doubt that Tesla is fulfilling Musk’s vision of disrupting the industry, and given automobile enthusiasts a car that is the incarnation of their wildest fantasies.

The New Tesla Roadster

Apple’s Self-Driving Car

You know the name; you’ve seen their products; you’ve more than likely purchased a few of them at one point or another. They’re one of the most valuable and recognizable companies in the world. The empire that Apple has built is a wonder to behold. And that empire was built on technology and software, but now, the company may be getting into the automotive industry.


There have been rumors of Apple entering the automotive industry for quite some time, and for a moment, it had appeared as if nothing would come of it. But just a few months ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company is indeed working on a self-driving car; in a manner of speaking.


While there have been several documents and files that have led the public to believe that Apple was working on a full-fledged, self-driving vehicle, it turns out, according to Cook himself, that the company is really working on the software side of things. Based on Cook’s description of the project as being “one of the most difficult AI projects to work on,” it is assumed that the company was originally working on creating a complete vehicle, but as the project became much more difficult, they scaled it down and instead chose to focus on software.


In essence, this means that Apple will ditch their long-lasting tradition of manufacturing both hardware and software, and instead create only the software. And Apple has already released a similar feature. Apple CarPlay is a software that can be installed into the infotainment system of almost any vehicle. The software acts as something of a conduit for the driver’s existing iPhone. With CarPlay, drivers can play music from their phone, use the iPhone’s built in navigation, and even respond to texts and make use of Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.


Since Apple is no stranger to automobile software, this project should be familiar territory. That is not to say that this project will not be difficult, as creating software to allow for autonomous driving is vastly more complex than creating software for multimedia use.


In short, Apple is more than likely going to steer away from developing a self-driving car; they will, however, focus on creating software for cars to drive themselves. And although the prospect of having Apple, who is renowned for their stable software, create self-driving software for vehicles, one can’t help but wonder just how amazing it would have been to get behind the wheel of the Apple Car.

Apple’s Self-Driving Car

Two Eye-Catching New Car Concepts

We are living in a digital age. Smartphones can now complete almost all of the tasks that only refrigerator-sized computers could back in the 80s, smartwatches can track our heart rates and play music, and our appliances can connect to the Internet. The household of the Jetsons is almost a reality. But I’d like to talk about an important part of our daily lives that doesn’t live inside your house: the car. Automobiles and the technological revolution that they are currently going through seems to be the topic of conversation on everyone’s mind. There are a striking number of new-age concepts and technological innovations in the automobile industry that I would love to share with you. I figured I would start off with the two that I find most interesting.

Mercedes-Benz F 015

Robert Taurosa Car Concepts
One of the hottest topics of conversation in the world of cars is that of the self-driving car. The Mercedes-Benz F 015 capitalizes on this trend in a major way. By using advanced sensor technology and cameras, the F 015 can read any and all driving patterns on the road and drive itself. This allows the driver and passengers to relax and have some free time. The car’s interior features swiveling seats that face each other and a small desk in the center. The walls of the car feature LED screens that can be used to display information about business or your family trip to DisneyWorld.

The Oasis Car

Robert Taurosa Oasis
The Oasis Car from Rinspeed is as unique as it gets. The car’s design rivals that of a modern Smartcar; however, the Oasis is far more technologically inclined that the Smartcar. The Oasis boasts several far-out features that one can only dream of, including: headrests with built-in speakers, a full-motion steering wheel that can be fitted with a keyboard, a ceiling with multiple LED lights, a three-monitor computer placed on the dashboard that can be used for Internet browsing as well as traditional navigation and multimedia functions, and, quite possibly the most unique feature of all, a miniature garden. If this car ever makes it to production, I would love to test-drive it.

As I’ve said before, there are plenty of other boundary-pushing concepts for the automotive industry. I will definitely discuss them throughout this ongoing series. Be sure to come back next month for part two!

Two Eye-Catching New Car Concepts

Meet Turo: Airbnb for Cars

UBER and Lyft may be the heavyweights, but there are many and more companies entering the ride-sharing economy. You can score a seat in a car heading your direction pretty easily these days. But what about the entire vehicle? UBER and the like have absolutely disrupted (read: exploded) the taxi industry, but now a relatively new company is looking to disrupt the car rental industry. Enter: Turo.

Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental service headquartered in San Francisco, though the company was founded in Boston. Turo is most easily described as ‘Airbnb for cars’. They’ve developed a platform for car owners to list their unused vehicles to be rented for extended periods of time. Though the company (originally known as RelayRides) formerly focused on short-term, hourly rentals, they have since pivoted to longer term rentals.

So Turo has found a way, like many of the best startups of the last 10 years, for users to both make AND save money. If you’ve got a car sitting around that you or your family isn’t using, you can list it on Turo and it can start generating some income. If you are looking to rent a car for a few days, Turo is going to be far, far cheaper than renting from a brick-and-mortar car rental company. This dualist value proposition has led to Turo being listed as one of the hottest on demand startups by Forbes in 2015.

Another advantage that Turo has over traditional car rental services is the types of vehicles that you can rent. Turo’s ‘inventory’ is determined by what people are listing, so you will find cars that you’d never be able to get at a Rent-A-Car. Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar: all of these luxury brands can be found and rented via Turo. If you are looking for a high-end sports car, Turo’s got you covered. If you need something with four-wheel-drive for some backcountry adventures, Turo can provide. If you need something sleek to impress a date, look no further.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty (if not more) economy options. You can find gas-sipping hybrids, compacts, and regular sedans. Cars on this end can often be rented for less than $20 a day! With the addition of the affordable insurance Turo provides and the gas you’ll use, you’re still saving tremendously compared to traditional car rental places.

Another interesting thing about Turo is that, just like Airbnb, you are interfacing directly with another person. That’s certainly one of the major selling points in marketing campaigns of these companies (see the attached video), but does that really factor into the experience? Is a guest at an Airbnb more inclined to be respectful of the space because they’ve met the owner of it? Similarly, is a Turo renter going to be a more cautious and responsible driver having met the person who owns the vehicle? And if so, is it the fear of facing that owner after the fact that encourages courteous usage? I’m not aware of any market research on the matter, but common logic would suggest that attaching a face to the transaction can bring out the best of us.

In any case, next time you’re planning a road trip, check out Turo!

Meet Turo: Airbnb for Cars

Most Innovative Technology at CES 2017

Many automobile companies made big impressions on attendees and experts alike at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year. Various companies were there, such as Ford, BMW, Chrysler, and Mercedes, along with a few others. These companies showcased some of their newest models and hi-tech features that will be added to their vehicles. Many of these cars were breathtaking and the new technology seems like something out of the future.

Ford adds Alexa

Ford announced that they plan to add Amazon’s Alexa (a cloud-based feature that responds to voice commands) into their cars that have SYNC 3 already installed. Alexa will allow users to check the weather, add items to lists, purchase goods, and even control connected home devices from their vehicle. Drivers may even be able to use Alexa to command features of the car, such as locking and unlocking the doors.

Self-driving Ford Fusion

Following in a continuous line of autonomous vehicles, Ford discussed its development of a new self-driving Ford Fusion and even unveiled the car. This car builds onto the same features of the previous Fusion and is even closer to imitating natural driving techniques with its self-driving feature.

BMW HoloActive Touch system

BMW is taking their luxury features to the next level by developing a new user interface system called HoloActive Touch. Drivers can control this system using finger gestures over a free-floating display. It’s even designed to give haptic feedback to the user, so it feels as though you’re actually touching the screen.

Mercedes Vision Van

Though this unveil wasn’t news, CES was the first appearance of the Vision Van in the United States. Responses to the sleek, futuristic look of the van were mixed, with some calling it “bizarre,” but the concept is interesting. Mercedes plans to use these vans for deliveries for various companies, using drones to carry packages to the door.

Chrysler electric minivan for millennials

Chrysler’s newest minivan in development is electric-powered and looks at millennials with children as its target audience. It has incredible, hi-tech features that will attract people used to cutting edge technology. Some of its features include: facial recognition technology that allows it to adjust settings to that passenger’s preferences, a selfie camera, vehicle to vehicle communications, and a fast charger to charge the car for over 100 miles in 20 minutes.

Most Innovative Technology at CES 2017

Rolls-Royce Ends Production of Phantom VII

Throughout the course of the tremendous history of the automobile industry, which spans some 125 years, we have seen many iterations and models come and go. The famous Ford Model T, the AMC Gremlin and the Toyota Venza are all famous examples of cars that once had a popular following, but have been cut from the assembly line. And sadly, another classic model enters the growing list: the Rolls-Royce Phantom VII.

According to a report from CNET, the English car manufacturer is set to conclude the long-running model’s 7th generation iteration. And, in typical Rolls-Royce fashion, the final model to roll out of the factory is quite a lavish one. Per the customer’s request, the car is designed to resemble an ocean liner from the 1930s. It features a powder blue interior leather and naval-themed clocks. It even mentions H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, for some reason. Under the hood, the car includes a 6.8 liter V12, good for 454 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque.

The Phantom is not only a classic vehicle that exudes style and technology, but also an extremely part of Rolls-Royce’s history. As the company’s second most popular model, the Phantom actually helped revitalize the company. It helped create a popular image for the brand name, and after its 2003 update, was able to compete with other brands in terms of engineering. Before then, the Phantom series of cars were, for the most part, an aesthetic masterpiece, with little else to brag about. However, after BMW purchased the company and invested a large amount of money into its reengineering, the Phantom was finally able to live up to its potential. It became quieter, more powerful and more technologically advanced than its counterparts.

Now, while this may sound worrying, it isn’t, in actuality. The actual Phantom namebrand is not being discontinued, just this generation’s version. The Phantom VIII will probably roll out sometime either this year or next. I’m very excited to see what the company can come up with, and if the car can live up to its predecessors.

Rolls-Royce Ends Production of Phantom VII

Top 3 Cars From The Geneva International Motor Show

Although it feels as if CES 2017 was just last week, the Geneva International Motor Show has already come and gone; that means more concepts, designs and innovation. And with the variety of automobiles that were showcased during the event, I wanted to pick a few cars from the show that I found to be fascinating.

Vanda Electrics – The Dendrobium

Named after a flower commonly found in Singapore, the Dendrobium is making its first public appearance at Geneva. Created by Singapore-based Vanda Electrics, a small battery technology and electric mobility company, the car is a delightfully refreshing take on the super car. The Dendrobium’s design is heavily influenced by nature, with its recurrent honeycomb patterns and key fob-controlled doors and roof simulating blooming orchid petals. The interior of the car is meant to emulate the human body, with the seat stitching and aesthetic resembling muscle fiber. According to Vanda’s website, the team had wanted to create an electric supercar since the 90s, but the technology was not viable until now. Boasting a projected performance of 0-62mph in 2.6 seconds and a top speed of 200mph, and a beautiful design, this car needs to be seen to be believed. It definitely has the appearance of a car 20 years in the making.

Tata Motors – Tamo Racemo

The latest sports car from Indian car manufacturer, Tata Motors, is catching attention not only for its design or power, but for its price. While exact prices are not discussed, according to an article from Motoring, the new car could be one of the most affordable sports cars on the market. Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar and Land Rover, has invested a large amount of technology into the Racemo, giving it the ability to utilize cloud-computing, analytics and mapping systems to its advantage. The Racemo is also being designed on a modular chassis, which will allow Tata to produce the car faster and more efficiently. With its 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, advanced technology and affordable price, the Tamo Racemo could prove to be India’s flagship sports car.

Hyundai – FE Concept

The earth’s resources are limited; there are only so many fossil fuels we can use. We have known, as a society, for quite some time that we will eventually run out of our precious gasoline, and car manufacturers are rushing to come up with an alternative. That’s where Hyundai’s FE (Future Eco) Concept comes into play. The FE Concept ditches gasoline as its fuel source for a far more abundant element: hydrogen. Featuring a hydrogen fuel cell with 30 percent more energy density than the Tucson’s, Hyundai claims that the car can squeeze approximately 500 miles out of a full tank of hydrogen, and hopes to launch production by early 2018. Inspired by flowing water, the FE’s design is also quite visually stunning. While Hyundai has been trying to push this technology for quite some time, they have yet to really breach the market. Hopefully the FE Concept can do just that.

Top 3 Cars From The Geneva International Motor Show

Secrets to Inexpensive Insurance: Senior Edition

Old Dude

While we all grow old, many of us do not harbor an understanding of the necessity that is life insurance, especially seniors. Maturing is hard enough without worrying about the fiscal plan you’re leaving behind for your children and grandchildren. Rather than force elders to endlessly peruse through the internet, I have decided to author this quick and easy guide for a few simple tips so that those of us in retirement can have a foundational framework when searching to decrease the expense of life insurance.

Do not purchase unnecessary benefits.

Life is dynamic. Considering such, many of the benefits we need at one point in time, we no longer need later in life. To understand insurance, this is a fundamental principle. For instance, many parents are paying more money when they are younger because they are supporting children, and then paying for said children’s college. However, once the children move out, the financial obligations of said parents decrease tremendously. When this happens (or any obligations diminish), you should make sure your insurance plan reflects such. When financial commitments decrease, so should your insurance.

Work a job.

When seniors are working, they may very well be able to take advantage of their employer’s life insurance plan. Even in the event that the employer does not offer insurance, there are many other groups that may be able to supplement the cost. All you need to do is a little research to find the right plan for you.

Do a price-comparison between companies.

As with any purchase in our capitalistic society, different companies offer different prices. This being said, many companies actually price age groups differently. There is no one universal understanding of what to charge each age group. Thus, it is worth your time to shop around a little and see what each company is offering as per your individual situation, be it age or income or location or anything else. Remember that you don’t need to buy too much and that if a group rate is available, you should take advantage.

Take note of different kinds of insurance.

You should also keep in mind that in the above text I am referring to term life insurance. However, it is plausible that term life insurance may not be accessible and so you will have to resort to whole life or guaranteed issue life insurance; and should that be the case, you should be prepared.

I would consider purchasing a whole life policy that doesn’t heavily rely on large cash values. This way, you are essentially creating a unique, personal, term life policy. However, you may also want to consider guaranteed issue life insurance.

Mostly anyone can purchase this sort of plan no matter their health or age. However, this open admission implies strings attached, and there certainly are strings attached. One, the coverage itself is usually not the best. Two, it generally only pays out to 100,000$. Not to mention, you have to survive 2 or 3 years for the policy to take effect while you’re paying significant premiums in the meantime.

Regardless of what you decide, I hope this helps in your quest through the complicated and treacherous waters of attaining life insurance. Good luck and godspeed!


from Robert Taurosa

Secrets to Inexpensive Insurance: Senior Edition