Musk Reads: Tesla Insurance Has Finally Arrived

Tesla insurance goes live; a virtual power plant gets unveiled; and Musk clashes with Jack Ma. It’s Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #101.

Tesla insurance goes live; a virtual power plant gets unveiled; and Musk clashes with Jack Ma. It’s Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #101.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk Quote of the Week

“Gasoline is designed to burn.”


Tesla insurance has arrived. The company launched its in-house insurance system in California at the end of August, aimed at providing 20 percent lower rates due to pricing that “reflects the benefits of Tesla’s active safety and advanced driver assistance features that come standard on all new Tesla vehicles.” Musk claims the company plans to expand to other states soon, and also gave a thumbs-up to better integration with the Tesla app. It could also leave the United States. In response to a question about whether Tesla would come to the United Kingdom, Musk said it would launch “anywhere insurance prices are high.”

Across the world, Tesla has been making waves:

  • Will Tesla come to South Africa? Musk stated last week that he “would love to,” but import duties are too high.
  • In Australia, a right-hand drive version of the Tesla Model 3 has launched.

Tesla Solar

Australia is about to beat its renewable energy target. The country was aiming to produce 33,000 gigawatt-hours of grid-scale clean energy by 2020, a goal it met in August after regulators gave the go-ahead for a series of new projects. Australia hosts the world’s largest battery, as built by Tesla, and is expected to also host a Tesla-powered virtual power plant. The latter idea involves homes hosting batteries and solar panels, sharing the energy around a community instead of building a single giant power plant. As the country produces 260,000 gigawatt-hours of energy, Australia still has a long way to go before reaching its target of net zero emissions by 2050. Read more.

Sonnen, Tesla’s main rival in the American energy storage market, has unveiled plans for a virtual power plant in Utah. Soleil Lofts in the city of Herriman is expected to cover 600 units, paired with 12.6 megawatt-hours of battery storage. A company spokesperson described it to Inverse as the world’s first residential apartment virtual power plant. Tesla, which built the world’s largest battery storage system in South Australia, has a lot of experience in virtual power plants. The company enabled schemes in three American states and is expected to switch on the world’s largest virtual power plant in South Australia. Read more.

What’s next for Tesla: Version 10 of Tesla’s software update is expected to ship soon. Musk noted this week that the update will come with a karaoke and party mode. He also listed the most significant feature as Smart Summon, designed to control the car through a smartphone app. Musk previously stated the update will come with “several games & infotainment features, improved highway Autopilot, better traffic light & stop sign recognition & Smart Summon.”

In Other Musk News..

Musk clashed with Jack Ma, estimated to be China’s richest man, over super-intelligent A.I. and the rise of machines. During an on-stage debate with Musk at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai last week, Ma declared himself “street smart” and said that people like him are “never scared” of A.I.’s potential opportunities. Musk, who has called for greater regulation before it’s too late, characterized Ma’s comments as “famous last words.”

Musk announced in July plans to wire up human brains as early as next year through his startup Neuralink, which he hopes will create a symbiotic interface between humans and machines. During the debate, he claimed that a brain linkup was necessary to avoid humans getting left behind, as “human speech to a computer will sound like very slow tonal wheezing…kind of like whale sounds.” Read more.

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Musk Reads Mailroom

Derck van Schuylenburch writes…

  • I was wondering, is Tesla considering going to the “in-wheel motor system” at some future date?

The in-wheel motor is an interesting piece of technology. HowStuffWorks explains how the idea would involve shifting components into the wheel hub so they could cover responsibilities normally handled by the engine, brakes, transmission, and other aspects. Nissan hails the idea, as it could make wheels more responsive and reduce time lag. Developer Protean claims it could save weight and create more space in the center of the car.

Sounds good, right? The technology, however, is relatively unproven, and HowStuffWorks notes there is little data on reliability and durability. While Tesla has not made any sort of public commitment to the technology, don’t count it out entirely — the company is aiming to produce more of the car’s battery in-house, exploring groundbreaking new ideas like ditching cobalt, and even considered enabling Teslas to charge each other. Although the firm has been aiming for ease of manufacturing with new cars like the Model Y, it seems Tesla is not afraid to explore new ideas that would break with convention.

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Video of the Week

Is Tesla Autopilot getting hindered by regulations in Europe? Tesla Model S owner Steven Peeters claims that UNECE r79 is restraining vehicles by ensuring they don’t drive too fast when exiting a highway, among other situations. The video prompted a response from Musk, who stated the company is working closely with EU regulators.

The Ultra-Fine Print

This has been Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #101, 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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A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

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