For my research project, I wanted to choose a topic that
I would be very interested in.  Also, I
wanted to choose something that is closely related to my career path.  The topic I chose involves Tesla Motors and
the advancement of technology in cars.  Since
I am planning to become an automotive engineer, I believe this topic suites me
very well.  I am very interested in cars
and want to learn how we can improve them to help out the environment.  Ever since I was a little kid I have dreamed
of designing cars, and becoming an automotive engineer can fulfill that
dream.  Technology is very fast growing,
so why can’t we use that advancement to help out the earth?  With this topic, I will be researching the
technology in Teslas and various ways how we can use technology for the greater
good.  I will write about the information
I find involving the actions Tesla has already taken, and what may be soon to
come.  Technology is forever changing and
I believe that I will be able to find a lot of information on this topic.  Hopefully through the research I do, I will
be able to know a lot more about the field I am going into.  This project will not only be fun, but it can
also help my future.  I hope one day I
can even work for a company like Tesla Motors to improve day to day life
through the advancement of automobiles.  Tesla
Motors is one of few companies who have been thinking about the future of cars.
 I will discuss the history and main
people of Tesla, environmental improvements that electric cars make, and
technology improvements in the automotive industry. With such a fast-changing
company, the amount of ways that it can impact people’s day to day lives is
limitless.

History

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            Tesla Motors was named after the famous inventor.  Tesla was not only an inventor but he was also
an electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer, and a physicist.  Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 and back then
they probably had no idea what the company will soon become (Tesla Motors).  In 2008, Tesla came out with their first car,
the Tesla Roadster.  The 2008 Roadster
cost a little over one-hundred grand when it was released but has reduced to
under fifty thousand over the years.  The
Roadster’s zero to sixty time is a little over four seconds and has a top speed
of 125 miles per hour (Zero To 60 Times).  The new Roadster that will be sold in 2020 has
a zero to sixty time of 1.9 seconds, a top speed of 250 miles per hour, and
costs two hundred thousand U.S. dollars (Tesla).  Not that affordable of a car, but for Tesla’s
history of luxury vehicles, this isn’t too much of a surprise.  When comparing the two Roadsters, you can
definitely tell that they are the same car model.  The main difference between the two is the
2020 Roadster is much more sleek and aerodynamic.  This vehicle is the epitome of a futuristic
car.  It even has a spaceship like
steering wheel.  In 2012, Tesla started
to create the Model S.  This vehicle has
three different battery options which each give a different range of
miles.  The best battery option comes
with a zero to sixty time of around 2.5 seconds, which is a little slower than
the previous Roadster.  Despite the
downgrade of the acceleration, the top speed got bumped up from 125 to 130
miles per hour (Tesla).  Not a huge
difference, but is comparably better than the 2008 Roadster.  Also in 2012, Tesla came out with
Superchargers, which are free charging stations for people with Teslas (Tesla
Motors).  In 2015, the Model X began to
be sold.  The Model X is a crossover SUV
and has self-driving capabilities.  It
has three different models, 90D, P90D, and P100D.  These models are listed from worst to best.  The Model X P100D has a zero to sixty time of
2.9 seconds, a top speed of 155 miles per hour, and a range of up to 295 miles
(Tesla).  The Model X is labeled the
safest and fasted SUV and lives up to its name. 
The final model is the Tesla Model 3; this is the most recent model,
other than the planned Roadster.  This
vehicle has the biggest range of 310 miles, zero to sixty of 5.1 seconds, and a
top speed of 140 miles per hour.  This
car is probably the closest to an everyday affordable car at a cost of
thirty-five thousand dollars (Tesla).  A
lot of people cannot afford a car that expensive, but for Tesla that is fairly
cheap.  All Teslas have the same look to
them, excluding the Model X.  They are
all very slick, high class sedans.  The
Model X on the other hand is just about the same, but it is an SUV version of
the others.  The most amazing part of
Tesla is that it has had no advertising.  It has built up its popularity mainly through
word of mouth and the internet (Halliday 17).  Although the internet is a type of
advertising, there is no cost of getting the word out there.  To get as popular as Tesla without advertising
happens to a company once in a lifetime. 
Tesla has already grown so much and will continue to do so.

 

Main People/Funding

            Stated before, Tesla was founded in 2003.  Tesla was founded by two entrepreneurs, Martin
Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.  Eberhard
was born on May 15, 1960 in California and he went to school at the University
of Illinois.  There he finished with a
bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in electrical
engineering.  Tarpenning, who was also
from California, was born on June 1, 1964 and went to the University of
California.  At the University of California,
Tarpenning earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science.  Both Eberhard and Tarpenning left Tesla in
2008 (Martin Eberhard and Marc
Tarpenning).  One of the main men
of Tesla is Elon Musk.  Musk was born on
June 28, 1971 in Pretoria South Africa. 
Elon Musk was one of the first people to invest in the company of Tesla
Motors.  He attended Queen’s University
and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania.  There he earned bachelor’s degrees in economics
and physics.  Musk has made a lot of
money through his smart decisions to invest in several companies that have
blown up in popularity.  He founded Zip2
which was bought for $307 million and he founded X.com which became PayPal and
was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion. 
After he invested in Tesla, Musk became chairman and CEO of the
company.  Musk had to take several risks
in order to gain the amount of success he had achieved.  These risks worked out in his favor and that
is why he has become so wealthy.  Musk’s
net worth is said to be around $19.5 billion (Elon Musk).  All these men are extremely intelligent and
successful.  All three of them saw an
opportunity and took it.  The company
wouldn’t have gotten so great without the mindsets they had to make it that
way.  This goes to show the amount that
can be achieved with the right mindset.

 

CO2 Emissions

            There have been several studies to try and figure out if gasoline-powered
automobiles are comparatively worse than plug-in electric vehicles (or PEVs).  Each type of vehicle has a different amount
of carbon dioxide that they give off.  The
average emissions of each type of vehicle are stated in “Electric Cars” by
Peter Van Doren.  He wrote,

 

Current
plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) consume 0.35kWh per mile, and thus result in
0.735 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions per mile. Gasoline-powered autos and
light trucks in the United States in 2009 averaged 21.7 miles per gallon, and
each gallon of gasoline consumed resulted in 19.6 lbs. of carbon dioxide. Thus,
conventional vehicles emitted 0.9 lbs. (Van Doren)

 

Even though this is a
small difference in pounds, it does show that PEVs are better for the
environment than gasoline-powered vehicles. 
Several fuel-efficient vehicles have a smaller emission of carbon
dioxide per mile, but compared to the other gas-powered cars, the average is
raised to above PEVs.  Even though not
everyone’s intentions are to improve the environment, switching to an electric car
is definitely in the discussion.  This
small difference in carbon dioxide emissions per mile will eventually add up to
be a huge difference.  The sooner more
car companies switch over to electric powered cars the better off our
environment will be in the long run.  We
shouldn’t start worrying about the emissions when it’s too late.

 

Environment Improvements

By
improving the way automobiles are made, we can help out the environment
tremendously.  These changes can be very
slight or can completely change the way a car works.  The first thing that can be done is reduce
the weight of the car.  This can be done
by either using different materials, cutting down the size of the car, or
reducing the amount of heavy luxuries in the car.  By making an automobile lightweight, it
extremely reduces the fuel consumption.  Reducing
the fuel consumption not only reduces the cost but it can benefit the
environment in the long run.  Light
weight vehicles are also way more efficient when driving.  Light weight vehicles are very easy to
control and in my opinion, more fun.  I
used to work at Delta Sonic and through my employment, I have driven a lot of
different cars.  Cars like the Toyota
Prius and the Smart Fortwo, are just two examples of light weight cars that
I’ve driven.  Both these cars felt a lot
more smooth and reliable.  It is a
completely different feeling than driving a Ford F250, which is very rough and
hard to maneuver. Another way to improve the environment through vehicles is
producing hybrid vehicles.  A hybrid
vehicle is a car with an electric motor and a gasoline engine. Hybrid cars are
very environmental friendly.  Having an
electric motor and a gas engine uses less fuel than a normal gasoline powered
car.  Since it uses less fuel it will
also reduce the carbon dioxide emissions. 
Going along with reducing the weight of cars, hybrid cars are normally
made with very light weight materials compared to gas powered vehicles.  Hybrid cars have so many benefits that it
completely makes people overlook the cons of the vehicles.  The cons include usually higher costs and the
vehicle being less powerful than normal cars. 
The costs are definitely something to consider in order to help the
environment.  There are so many ways we
can improve the way our vehicles treat the environment. As technology improves,
the more efficient we can push the cars to be.

 

Self-Driving

            Tesla is very ahead of other car companies.  The technology that comes with a Tesla
vehicle is something that impresses a lot of people.  All Tesla vehicles have the hardware to make
the car have self-driving capabilities (Tesla). 
The thought of a car that drives itself is almost a nightmare.  To my amazement, the self-driving technology
actually works very smoothly.  I have
watched several videos on the Model X P100D driving by itself.  The car can detect the lines on each side and
steers itself to stay in the lines.  If I
were to own a Tesla, I don’t think I would use this feature.  I’d probably try it out once, but I wouldn’t
have the confidence in the car to keep me safe in every situation that may
occur.  This technology has to be very
advanced so when an outside driver accidently swerves in front of you, it will
detect the situation and stop the car before anyone gets hurt.  During the self-driving mode, the driver can
take control at any point in time.  This
further ensures the driver’s safety in case a situation like this ever
happens.  Even though this feature is
very cool, I don’t see it being a huge benefit of owning the vehicle.  It’s not like you can take a nap while the
car drives you to your destination.  The
driver should still have their full attention on the road while the
self-driving mode is activated.  Tesla
making cars that can drive themselves shows how advanced they are, but I feel
like this technology is somewhat of a waste. 
They could have spent their time creating something else that will
actually improve the way a car runs or how the cars are produced.

 

Technology Improvements

            Many companies can look up to Tesla and how fast they are
improving their technology.  Advancing
the technology in cars can make them much more efficient and improve driving on
a day to day basis.  There have been
several studies that show just how much the technology has improved over the
years. Don MacKenzie and John Heywood wrote about the fuel consumption of cars
as the years progress.  They stated, “Between 1975 and 2009, the actual fuel consumption of the
average new car was reduced by 50%” (MacKenzie, Heywood 923).  This reduction of fuel consumption goes along
with helping out the environment.  A lot
of the technology advancements will fall into the same category of improving
the environment.  If I were to work for a
car company as an engineer I would gear my focus more towards the safety of
cars.  The safety can be improved in so
many ways.  First, I would try to use
different materials that would be better in the situation of a crash.  The materials that would be most ideal would
be something that breaks down instead of crushing.  When you have a very hard material and get in
an accident it will get dented and pushed inward like a crushed pop can.  This can be very dangerous for the driver and
passengers because it is very easy to get impaled by a sharp piece of metal.  Material like carbon fiber breaks up when it
is hit and this further ensures the safety of anyone in a crash.  Another way to improve the safety in cars is
to increase the number of sensors and warning signs.  If you have ever driven a car with a backup
camera, you know that it beeps when you get too close to something while
reversing.  Why can’t cars be made to
have this type of sensor all around the vehicle?  If the technology is already there, having
these sensors in a 360 around the vehicle would further improve the safety of
the driver.  Something else that could be
implemented is a built-in dashboard camera. 
Many people buy a separate camera to record their driving on a daily
basis.  Having a camera built-in would
help those who don’t go out and buy a camera, to record the road in case
something occurs that should be recorded to help in court.  As cars get further and further into the
future we can realize just how much we can improve the way we do things.  The smallest things in life are some of the
things that make the biggest impact. 
Small technology advancements don’t seem like too much until the time
comes, and it really pays off to have it.

 

            Through my research for this paper, I have a better
understanding of what engineers for big companies like Tesla go through.  They can spend months and even years on
something for car that will only improve it slightly.  Doing this research project gets me very
excited to finish school and go into the world of designing cars.  Famous engineers, like Martin Eberhard, are
what motivate me to want to make a difference through automobiles.  My research on how technology improvement can
help out the environment has helped me see just how people are already starting
to make a difference.   I hope that I will be able to become one of these
people and improve people’s daily driving while also improving the world around
us.