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Tesla’s charging network is a huge advantage, but service is lacking

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Tesla Model S P100D at SuperchargerTesla has an expansive charging network.Bryan Logan/Business Insider

  • Tesla’s network of thousands of charging stations gives it a huge leg up on the competition, a Wall Street analyst said Tuesday. 
  • But, Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley warns, the company’s retail and service infrastructure is going to need to keep pace with its vehicle sales. 
  • Tesla buyers have reported long waits for service and parts after receiving their vehicles from the company. 

Tesla’s network of superchargers is now close to 12,000 — blowing other automaker’s electrical infrastructure out of the water. 

Morgan Stanley estimates that Tesla alone could account for up to 40% of the US’ total charging outlets. That gives the company a huge “competitive moat” over other automakers, the bank said in a note to clients Tuesday.

“Growth in the charging footprint, while strong, is far slower than the growth in Tesla’s car population, which we estimate increase by 83% last year,” analyst Adam Jonas writes. “We calculate Tesla’s car fleet per supercharger increased to 45 by the end of 2018 vs. 33 at the end of 2017.”

But while the company has been successful in ramping production to get more cars on the road and increasing revenue, Tesla’s next pain point could be in servicing vehicles if and when they encounter problems.

“Tesla’s vehicle fleet has grown far faster than its physical store and service location network, raising investor concerns about strain on the system,” Jonas said. 

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that many Tesla Model 3 buyers were facing long waits for service and parts, a pain point Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk acknowledged on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call. In one case, a Model 3 is still in the shop awaiting after an accident in September — nearly five months ago.

“I want to note that one of our major priorities this quarter is improving service operations,” Musk told analysts and investors on the call.

“So really, from my standpoint, when I think about what my priorities are this quarter, it’s improving service in North America. That’s #1. And I think that there are some very exciting initiatives that we’re going to roll out with regard to that,” he continued.

Jonas, who has an equal-weight rating for Tesla stock, says Tesla has significant room to improve on the service front, especially when it comes to mobile service centers. Tesla currently has 411 vans that can be dispatched to fix cars at owners’ homes.

The company estimates 80% of repairs can be done outside of its 85 service centers, according to the Wall Street Journal. And with more cars hitting the road every quarter, those vans may not be able to keep up.

For now, at least, it’s got its charging network to attract new customers.

“Part of the strategic attraction to Tesla is its physical infrastructure footprint,” Jonas said. “Which we believe, over time, can improve the customer experience, reduce friction points, and support the fleet management of many millions of Tesla vehicles on the road and in both captive and 3rd-party fleets.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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