Tesla CEO Elon Musk made it clear last month that the company is betting big when it comes to bringing its Model 3 sedan to market as quickly as possible by skipping beta production and going straight to release candidate vehicles. The company is reportedly skipping “soft tooling” at its Fremont, California factory and in the process of ordering permanent and more expensive production tooling, as it pushes towards Model 3 volume production in September.

However, the strategy of skipping the ‘beta’ phase and going straight to production tooling comes with an increase in risk of assembly line errors. “He’s pushing the envelope to see how much time and cost he can take out of the process,” said Ron Harbour, a manufacturing consultant at Oliver Wyman, according to a new report by Reuters.

Auto manufacturers have traditionally built their beta vehicles with throw away manufacturing equipment that is designed to be flexible, easily adjustable and ultimately disposable once the beta run has been completed. Tesla is skipping this step altogether which saves the company on effort and expense of having to build temporary production lines. Cutting out what would ordinarily be a critical component to the overall manufacturing process could mean that Tesla will miss out on critical learnings that come out of this production phase.

By using “advanced analytical techniques” as a key enabler for the move to skip beta production, Tesla aims to reduce the number of early production issues that plagued Model X. Still, Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher who has done extensive testing on the Model S and Model X says the company’s approach to Model 3 production is “an experiment”.

With Model X, the production timeline was so tight that Tesla reportedly did not have sufficient time to implement the learnings from soft tooling before having to order final production tooling. “Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things,” said an insider via Reuters.

However, the acquisition of Tesla’s Michigan tooling plant has allowed the company to produce manufacturing equipment cheaper and 30 percent faster than before, thereby allowing Tesla to better modify final production tools, when needed.

I know I have a lot of international readers and viewers who have been watching the catastrophic Putin/Trump administration’s planet-destroying agenda with dismay.

In the afterglow of this week’s highly successful, global, March for Science, here’s an update on the resistance.  Quicktake: just beginning.

Charles Blow in the New York Times:

I must say that the issue of resilience was one that I worried and wondered about from the beginning: For far too many Americans in this digital age, stamina is rare, attention spans are short and the urge for instant gratification, or at least for expedient resolution, is enormous.

But, to my great delight, my worry was unfounded. Not only is the movement still strong, it appears to be getting stronger. People have found a salve for their sadness: exuberant agitation. Far from growing limp, the Trump resistance is stiffening and strengthening.

Furthermore, young people are particularly unhappy with Trump and turning against him. A Gallup poll released last week found that the percentage of respondents age 18-34 who believed Trump keeps his promises fell a whopping 22 points in the two months from early February to early April, from 56 percent to just 34 percent.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, young people aged 18-29 also give Trump his highest disapproval rating (63 percent) of any age group.

But these young people aren’t just stewing and complaining. They’re taking action.

As Time magazine reported earlier this month: “For more than 15,000 students across the country, Wednesday marked the first day of Resistance School — a program where the educational focus is mobilizing against President Donald Trump’s administration.”

Taken together, all signs are looking up for the movement. The Trump administration, from pillar to post, is an unmitigated disaster, lumbering forward and crushing American ideas and conventions as it does. Damage is being done, there is no doubt, but Americans are not taking it lying down. They are standing in opposition. They are feeling their power. They are energized, and I’m very much encouraged.

For myself, I attended our own, local district Town Hall “Listening session”, with my local representative Congressman John Moolenaar.(above)
Actually, it wasn’t as raucous as some of the melees we’ve seen on television – this is, after all, the polite midwest.



A rowdy crowd confronted Republican U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar at a town hall “listening session” Central Michigan University’s Plachta Auditorium on Thursday, April 20. Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe Bill’s best rant ever.


Read the rest of this entry »

And by Conservative Climate Creep, I don’t mean Lord Monckton.

I mean the slow-walking, foot dragging, nose holding, spinach-eating kabuki theater of  republican legislators, increasingly beset by angry town hall crowds, where climate change has risen to the hot button level of the Affordable Care Act, Trump’s Tax returns, and possible treasonous connections to Russia.

I attended one of these events in my area recently, asked two climate questions myself, and there were several others, and plenty of crowd support in every instance.

The video above is from a correspondent in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where Republican Jack Bergman is forced to confront the Pentagon’s concerns about security risks of climate change.

Pro Publica:

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.

In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”

Mattis has long espoused the position that the armed forces, for a host of reasons, need to cut dependence on fossil fuels and explore renewable energy where it makes sense. He had also, as commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2010, signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which lists climate change as one of the security threats the military expected to confront over the next 25 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Children’s Trust:

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” –U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken

On November 10, 2016 Judge Ann Aiken issued an opinion and order denying the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss a constitutional climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youth. The decision means that the youth, age 9 to 20 and from all over the U.S., now have standing because their rights are at stake, and now their case is headed to trial.

The youth had filed their constitutional climate lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2015. Also acting as a plaintiff is world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter. Their complaint asserts that, through the governments affirmative actions in causing climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.

On April 8, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin first denied the government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss. While reviewing his decision, Judge Aiken heard oral arguments on September 13, 2016, and issued her historic ruling on November 10, 2016.