This Week In Tech – Model 3 Production Shuts Down
This week in tech news, it’s a week of shutdowns as Google halts development of the Allo app and Tesla shuts down Model 3 production.
Published: Friday, May 4th 2018
This week on The Elon Musk Show, Tesla has temporarily halted all production on its Model 3 vehicle. Musk and his team will spend the downtime fixing a couple of problems. In order to meet the 6000-cars-a-week quota, some obstacles need to be overcome.
We also take a look at Vodacom’s new 4G milestone. Then we check out the retro-futuristic lovechild of Yamaha and Auto Fabrica - it's a stunner! And Google decides to put the Allo messaging app on hold. Probably forever.
Because what is Allo? Has anybody even heard of this app?
Musk Orders Shutdown Of The Model 3 Production
Tesla has announced that it will temporarily cease production on the Model 3 vehicle. The assembly line at the company’s plant in California will shut down for three to five days in an attempt to address a few key problems that have been slowing production.
A Tesla spokesperson says the shutdown is nothing to be concerned about. It’s just ‘planned downtime’ in order to ‘improve automation’.
Company CEO, Elon Musk, has recently taken up residence on a couch in the factory to personally oversee production. The company has been missing its own production targets for a while now.
Last week, a leaked email to employees from Musk himself essentially said that Tesla would be trying to increase production capacity to 6000 cars per week by the end of June. It has also since been revealed that the hold up on the Model 3 isn’t due to assembly itself, but battery production.
CNBC reported that it may have something to do with quality issues picked up in the new 2170 battery cells. The 2170's are only found in the Model 3.
"We think they have a quality issue with the move to the 2170s and the chemistry changes, and we think that is the real bottleneck here.”
The company will use the downtime to perform a comprehensive set of upgrades. Tesla will also be hiring 400 extra workers per week, for several weeks, at both the Fremont facility in California and the Gigafactory in Nevada.
This will allow Tesla to produce Model 3’s around the clock, every single day.
Amusingly, there’s now also a GoFundMe page dedicated to buying Musk a decent couch to sleep on.
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Vodacom Reaches 4G Milestone
Over the past five years, telecom giant Vodacom has invested R39.7 billion in its South African network. This has allowed the company to accelerate widespread coverage, including in rural areas. Just a few years ago, the coverage out there in the platteland was something of a nightmare.
Now, Vodacom says, “Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal enjoys the same 4G signal as Vodacom subscribers who live in the heart of Johannesburg.”
Vodacom is now able to provide 99.97% 2G coverage in South Africa and 99.78% of the population are covered by 3G. The company has also become the first mobile network in Africa to exceed 80% population coverage on 4G.
Access to the new sub 1HGz spectrum will allow for a more cost-effective rollout of 4G coverage.
“Despite the ong-oing spectrum constraints, our aim is to expand our network coverage to all parts of the country. Including remote rural areas.”
Areas that have recently had 4G coverage introduced include Sterkfontein in Limpopo, Brandfort in the Free State and Sundays River Valley in the Eastern Cape.
Yamaha / Fabrica Create Retro-Futuristic Racer
Yamaha bills its XSR900 model as this fun take-it-around-town-with-a-big-smile-on-your-face bike. The Yamaha website calls it a blend of Yamaha engineering and neo-retro style. This marriage, they say, creates a thrilling, timeless machine for riders seeking an authentic and honest motorcycle. Add in a dash of savage performance. Sounds a bit like a Tinder profile.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any overwhelmingly negative reviews on the XSR900.
The true potential of the motorcycle lays in the custom building capability. This is exactly what a bunch of people have been doing – taking the XSR900 in all kinds of directions. The most interesting to date must surely be the Type 11 – created by UK custom house, Auto Fabrica.
The Prototype 3 is based on the XSR900 platform, minus the road gear - in order to test the concept of a track bike. First off, though, was the Prototype 1. Based on a '70s-era XS750.
The Prototype 2 then combined the best of both. Built on the XSR900 base and taking all the performance perks of the P1, Fabrica created a sleek road-going machine of the highest quality.
The team hand-beat the metal for that distinguishing bullet-shaped fairing, put a razor-thin seat on it and slapped on a stylish, round headlight. It’s not just aesthetically pleasing. The bike sports a beast of a three-cylinder 900cc engine.
Auto Fabrica will be producing a limited run of the Prototype 2. They're expected to begin the roll out later this year.
Google Puts Allo App On Hold
Development on Google’s largely unused messaging app, Allo, is being paused. For the handful of Allo users out there, it’s probably a good time to start getting serious about life.
While Allo isn’t being dropped completely, Google’s new head of the communications group, Anil Sabharwal, has decided to move the Allo team resources over to focus on fixing the Android Messages problem.
Google will be going all out on Rich Communication Services – creating an app simply named “Chat” to rival Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. There just aren’t enough users of Allo to justify keeping it going and hoping that it will one day be able to compete with Android rivals.
“The product as a whole has not achieved the level of traction we’d hoped for,” said Sabharwal. “We set out to build this thing, that it [would be] a product that we would get hundreds of millions of people to get excited about and use. And where we are, we’re not feeling like we’re on that trajectory.”
The Allo app will continue to function and Google says that it will continue to offer support – to some extent. One can’t help but remember the bitter taste left in the mouths of Nokia Lumia users when the Windows updates slowed and slowed and then finally stopped altogether.
iPhone users have always had the stellar iMessage built in, while Android users have been left alone out there in the wilderness. With Chat, Android may finally get the decent messaging app it deserves.