By a Tesla Model S, Save $1000

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Here’s an email I received from Elon today reviewing the virtues of the Tesla Model S.  He also said you can save $1000 by using this link, (expires on Oct 31, 2015).

The first thing to mention is that you can buy a Tesla online, just like ordering a computer or a book. No need to go to a store. Moreover, if you lease it, the Model S comes with a happiness guarantee. If you don’t like the car for any reason, you can just give it back.

A survey of Tesla customers by Consumer Reports found that 98% expected that their next car purchase would also be a Tesla, much higher than for any other car. I feel the same way about my Tesla, which is why I’m recommending one for you.

Here is some background from Tesla about why you might want to buy a Model S:

Starting at $575/month after gas savings, the Model S is still a relatively expensive car, but here is what makes it worth the price:

Maximum Safety

The single most important thing to know about the Model S is that it is literally the safest car on the road bar none. It didn’t just receive five stars in every category and subcategory of safety (including for pedestrians), which about 1% of other cars do—the Model S recorded the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the U.S. government across all passenger vehicles, including minivans and SUVs.

In addition, every Model S comes standard with automatic emergency braking, as well as blind-spot and forward- and side-collision warning systems to prevent accidents in the first place.

Speed and cool features are nice, but nothing is more important than the safety of you, your family and your friends. For more info, check out this blog:


Since the Model S doesn’t need a big combustion engine, radiators, exhausts or catalytic converters, it has tremendous cargo capacity. With both a trunk in the front and a trunk in the rear, it has more storage space than any other sedan and more than most SUVs.

There is so much space in the back that you can have an optional fold-flat, rear-facing third seat, allowing you to carry five adults, two children and luggage in the front trunk. Tesla installs a high strength steel bumper to enable the car to take highway-speed impacts in the rear without permanent injury to the third row.

You can also carry several sets of skis, bikes and other equipment using the built-in attachments for the roof rack.

Other features that improve utility are a dynamic air suspension that remembers where it needs to raise itself, based on when you last pressed it. With this, you can raise the car above the snow and get through anything SUVs can handle. Tesla’s biggest per capita sales are above the Arctic Circle in Norway.


Tesla received the highest customer feedback rating for service of any car brand in production:

A big reason for this is that Tesla intentionally operates its service centers at break-even. We don’t believe in profiting off our product if it is not working.

Our service centers are located throughout North America and Canada, with Mexico coming soon:

If there isn’t one near you, no problem: our Tesla ranger service will take care of you wherever you are.


Even the basic Model S has great acceleration and handling. This goes all the way up to the P90D version, which does a record-breaking 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and a 10.9-second quarter mile, far beyond the capabilities of any other four-door car and faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo. The P90D in ludicrous mode can accelerate at 1.1 g’s, which is faster than falling.

What makes our handling superior to gasoline cars is that the center of gravity (cg) is extremely low, because the battery pack is in the floor pan, centered between the axles. This also means that a key engineering measure of handling, the polar moment of inertia, is almost perfect. No other production car in the world has a more ideal placement of mass for optimal handling. The Model S has Newton on its side.

With Tesla’s dual motor all-wheel drive, the traction and handling in every kind of weather are a step change better than gasoline all-wheel drive. Instead of having a simple mechanical shaft connecting front and rear, a Tesla actually has a motor in the front and a motor in the rear, so it can dynamically shift torque front to rear at the millisecond level, effectively providing digital traction control an order of magnitude more precise than mechanical linkages.

Like an airliner, it also enables motor redundancy. If one motor encounters a fault, you can simply drive with the other one, rather than being stuck on the side of the road.

Cool features

The Model S has an easy-to-use 17-inch touchscreen computer that is always improving itself and the rest of the car via free over-the-air updates.

The car learns your habits and will automatically set the cabin temperature to your preference when it thinks you are about to use the car. If you enable the calendar function, the car will show you your appointments on a big, easy-to-read screen, and you can just tap an address to navigate there. No more fumbling with a tiny phone.

Navigation includes real-time traffic data from the car’s cell connection, and it will dynamically adjust your route as traffic conditions change. In the morning and evening, it will alert you and offer an alternate route if your normal route is congested.

You can also ask the car to play any song or favorite band at any time just by holding down the voice button. It also has lots of comedy sketches available, ranging from Monty Python to Jim Gaffigan.

Coming in a few weeks via an over-the-air update are the highway autosteer and parallel autopark functions. When asked, the car will automatically control steering going down the freeway, dramatically reducing driver workload. It will also automatically parallel park with precision.

In a few months, you will be able to press a button on your Tesla phone app and the car will open your garage and put itself to bed. You will also be able to summon it from your garage if it isn’t plugged in. It needs the Tesla Snakebot for that!

What about charging?

The Model S has a charger built-in, so most owners just plug into a wall socket at their home or office. It can use anything from a standard 110V outlet at 1.5 kW all the way to the Wall Connector at 20 kW. Most customers just install a simple 240 V dryer socket in their garage, which all electricians can do, and it works perfectly.

For long distance, you get to use the free Tesla long-distance Supercharger network, located near restaurants and amenities. Typically the time spent on recharging is about 25 to 30 minutes after three hours of driving, which is about right. If you start a trip at 9am, by noon most people want to stop to use the restroom, have lunch or coffee and be on their way. By the time you come back your car is ready to go.

The Supercharger network covers the lower 48 continental states in the U.S. and parts of southern Canada, soon to include Mexico. As mentioned above, the Tesla Superchargers really are free to use for life. You could go on a road trip (rear seats fold flat into a great bed), pack some food and leave your wallet at home. Map:

Expert opinions

The Model S has won almost every award offered for a vehicle, including Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile Car of the Year and Consumer Reports’ best car in the world (two years running).

Moreover, Consumer Reports gave Model S the highest rating of any car in its long history: 99/100. The reason CR is the most trusted source for buyers is that they don’t take advertising, they buy a car secretly and at random (so they know it is a normal car) and they test it rigorously for months before reaching a rating. There is no more objective source.

Environmental Impact

Building a Model S produces roughly the same CO2 as a gasoline car of similar weight, however it is far more CO2-efficient in driving, which is what really matters over the lifetime of the car.

The EPA rates the efficiency of Model S as equivalent to 90 mpg—making it twice as energy-efficient as a compact hybrid even when factoring in power plant emissions. The current Model S number will steadily improve over time as older power plants are phased out in favor of clean, renewable energy.

However, if you install even a small solar panel on your house or garage, you will actually produce more electricity during the week than you consume with your car, making your automotive carbon footprint unequivocally zero or better. And, in the unlikely event of a zombie apocalypse, you will still be able to charge and drive your car!!

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Critique and Review

No KahnemanLet me begin by saying, Wow!  I was blown away by this book.

But in a bad way; not in a good way.  I was blown away by the monotony and the abundance of inaccurate science.  One wouldn’t normally expect mainly bad science from a Nobel Prize winner.  Then again, perhaps one would if the Nobel Prize is in Economic Sciences, since in general the further you stray from the hard sciences the less rigorous the science is.  (Incidentally, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was created in 1968 whereas the other five were created in 1895.)

The book provides a few interesting insights, but not nearly enough for 400+ pages.  I’ll quote the most interesting one here so you won’t make the mistake of buying the book yourself:

Consider two car owners who seek to reduce their costs:

Adam switches from a gas-guzzler of 12 mpg to a slightly less voracious guzzler that runs at 14 mpg.

The environmentally virtuous Beth switches from a 30 mpg car to one that runs at 40 mpg.

Suppose both drivers travel equal distances over a year.  Who will save more gas by switching?

If you do the math, the unintuitive answer is that Adam will save more.  The conclusion is that US labeling policy should be changed from mpg to the more intuitive gpm.

I fear that the above may entice you to read the book.  So in an attempt to offset that urge let me provide some examples of the deplorable logic that dominate the book.

On page 72, Kahneman tells a story in which he and his wife saw an acquaintance in Australia, then two weeks later saw the same acquaintance in a London theater.  He states, “By any measure of probability, meeting Jon in the theater was much less likely than meeting one of our hundreds of acquaintances – yet meeting Jon seemed more normal.”  Huh??  Why is meeting Jon less likely?  Actually, if all else is equal, they are equally likely to meet Jon in London as any other acquaintance.  And if you take Jon’s propensity to travel (as evidenced by the only additional information we have, namely his presence in Australia) into account then it is more likely to meet Jon in London.

Then on page 76, Kahneman writes, “Experiments have shown that six-month-old infants see the sequence of events as a cause-effect scenario, and they indicate surprise when the sequence is altered.  We are evidently ready from birth to have impressions of causality, which do not depend on reasoning about patterns of causation.”  Huh??  Does Kahneman assume that a human cannot learn impressions of causality in his first six months?

You may think I’m nit-picking a bit here, but I wouldn’t have picked up on these two examples if erroneous thinking wasn’t pervasive throughout the book.  Let me present two more examples.

On page 116, he recounts his contribution to the Israeli Air Force during a war.  Two similar squadrons were faring differently.  One squadron lost four planes while the other had lost none.  The operational differences between the squadrons were initially found to be small.  He says, “My advice was that the command should accept that the different outcomes were due to blind luck, and that the interviewing of the pilots should stop.  I reasoned that luck was the most likely answer, that a random search for a nonobvious [sic] cause was hopeless, and that in the meantime the pilots in the squadron that had sustained losses did not need the extra burden of being made to feel that they and their dead friends were at fault.”  Again: huh??  This one I really don’t get.  His thinking is so ridiculous I can’t explain how it’s ridiculous.  But let me attempt anyway.  He implies that since the losses were probably random that they shouldn’t be investigated.  I would say that the loss of a multimillion dollar plane should be investigated regardless of whether you think it may be random or not.  What if a non-random cause is discovered?

Lastly, on page 184, he ends the previous chapter with the following exercise:

One of my favorite examples of the errors of intuitive prediction is adapted from Max Bazerman’ s excellent text Judgment in Managerial Decision Making:
You are the sales forecaster for a department store chain. All stores are similar in size and merchandise selection, but their sales differ because of location, competition, and random factors. You are given the results for 2011 and asked to forecast sales for 2012. You have been instructed to accept the overall forecast of economists that sales will increase overall by 10%.  How would you complete the following table?

Store       2011       2012
1       $11,000,000       ________
2       $23,000,000       ________
3       $18,000,000       ________
4       $29,000,000       ________
Total       $81,000,000       $89,100,000

Having read this chapter, you know that the obvious solution of adding 10% to the sales of each store is wrong. You want your forecasts to be regressive, which requires adding more than 10% to the low-performing branches and adding less (or even subtracting) to others. But if you ask other people, you are likely to encounter puzzlement: Why do you bother them with an obvious question? As Galton painfully discovered, the concept of regression is far from obvious.

Again Kahneman is incorrect.  The most reasonable calculation in this scenario is to treat each 2011 sales number as that store’s average due to the store’s location (and therewith simply add 10% to each number), and not to confusedly combine the numbers and regress them to the mean as if they were representative of all stores.

It is not only bad science that makes this book so unreadable; it is also unfortunately oozing with self-satisfaction and reminiscences of Kahneman’s happy, bygone friendship with his “research” partner Amos.  Does Kahneman mean to present this book as an autobiography or a popular account of science?  By all means, be inspired by and happy with your work, but emoting such self-satisfaction about your own poor thinking only degrades the quality of your work further.

Kahneman attempts in this book to give a scientific exposition of various failings of humans’ propensity to occasionally misinterpret certain numeric scenarios, and to make it sound new in the process.  The ideas he presents in this book are not new.  Some of them are from earlier books and articles, and others from his papers of 1983 and earlier.  As I read I felt Kahneman attempting to make his book entertaining, as Malcolm Gladwell does with similar subjects.  But where Gladwell succeeds in entertaining us, Kahneman fails miserably.  Neither does Kahneman adhere to any scientific method, as I detailed earlier.  Kahneman’s resulting book is neither new, nor entertaining, nor scientific; it is unfortunately simply a monotonous aggregation of anecdotal statistics.