Mercedes to Bring Home Storage Batteries to US; Digital Assistants to Outnumber People by 2021

In more of a broadside than a shot across the bow to Tesla, Mercedes-Benz Energy has partnered with Vivint Solar to sell home storage batteries in the US. Techcrunch.com says homeowners who hire Vivint Solar to install an array on their roof can add up to 8 2.5 kWh Mercedes batteries for a whopping 20 kWh of storage! This is a major direct competitor to Tesla with their Solar City, solar shingles, and PowerWall. As the move to greener and more self-sustaining power systems picks up speed, expect more big players in this area.

Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft all have them, and are aggressively pushing them into our lives….digital assistants, that is. According to research by Ovum picked up by cnet.com, the number of devices with digital assistants will be over 7.5 billion by 2021, which will then exceed the population of the world! By the way, there are already 3.5 billion of the sometimes helpful little devils active in the world right now! Ovum projects that Google Assistant will command the market, followed by Chinese assistants, Siri and then Bixby form Samsung…mainly due to the count of cell phones and tablets. Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are primarily in devices other than smartphones.


Galaxy Note Nightmare Continues; Two Tesla Launch Events This Month; German Bundesrat Votes to Ban Internal Combustion Engine

After a 4th of the new, supposedly safe replacement Galaxy Note 7’s caught fire, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have stopped selling the phablet, and now Samsung is ‘temporarily’ suspending production of the device. 9to5google.com says Samsung has yet to comment on the suspension of production, which includes a plant in Vietnam that is responsible for global shipments of the Note, aside from saying they are ‘adjusting’ production.

Doing his best Apple impression, Elon Musk has tweeted that the company is planning two product launches in October. According to thenextweb.com, the first will be October 17th, and Musk claims it will be unexpected by most. The second is a joint Tesla/Solar City event scheduled 10 days later for October 28th. There’s some speculation that the first one will be for the Model 3. Musk has already indicated that there would be a joint unveiling of an integrated Powerwall 2.0 and Tesla charging unit. Tesla has recently added land that would allow them to double the size of the Fremont, CA factory.

In something of a shockwave, the German Bundesrat has voted to ban internal combustion engines by 2030. Arstechnica.com reports that it’s a non-binding resolution, but still a hell of a shot over the bow coming from the country where the internal combustion engine was invented, and where Karl Benz built the first ‘patent motorcar.’ Germany produces more cars than any country in Europe and the third most in the world. The Bundesrat is the federal council of all 16 German states.


Tesla Planning Name Change & Wireless Charging; Texting to Get Another Makeover?

Tesla Motors has acquired the tesla.com site from a fan of the scientist that’s owned it since the 90’s. Businessinsider.com says right now, it redirects to teslamotors.com. It looks like Tesla is about to drop motors and just become Tesla…as Apple Computer became Apple years ago. They will fold their Tesla energy brand under this umbrella…the division that makes the Powerwall and Powerpack batteries, as well as the auto operation. The storage division is expected to be a third of their battery factory production by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is on the way to getting wireless charging. According to mashable.com, a supplier called Plugless is taking $244 deposits on a wireless charger they plan to introduce late this spring. It will cost $2440 if you order now…more later. The wireless rig can run off any 50 amp circuit, and only needs pro installation for outdoors. It will give a Model S 20 miles of range per hour charge. Right now, no system is available for the all wheel drive Model S, the Model X, Roadster, or upcoming Model 3.

Text…the most old-school thing besides voice available on mobile phones…may be getting a makeover. Theverge.com reports that Google has partnered with 19 phone carriers to update SMS and MMS messages. The new moniker? RCS, or Rich Communications Service. It would allow for sending higher quality photos, starting group chats, and video. T-Mobile has already used it for video calling. If it ends up being baked into Android, it would simplify contacting people…in fact, a simple text could seamlessly start a video chat without choosing Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc.


March 15th Rollout for iPhone 5se, iPad Air 3, & Apple Watch Update; 2nd Tesla Powerwall Coming This Year

Apple plans to unveil the new 4 inch iPhone 5se, as well as the iPad Air 3, and new band options for the Apple Watch at an event currently scheduled for March 15th. The small iPhone will be powered by the current 6S A9 chip, have better cameras, and run Live Photos and Apple Pay. The iPad Air 3 will feature better speakers and a Smart Connector, and likely a better than Retina screen. New bands will be showed off for the Apple Watch, including an entirely new one fashioned from a new material.

At a speech in Paris last week, Elon Musk said V 2.0 of the Tesla Powerwall home battery will likely be out in July. According to Gizmodo.com, it will get at least a bump in capabilities, but mainly that they will build enough that you might actually have a chance to buy one. No price point has been given yet for V 2.0, but the original ran $3500, and was about 7 grand installed with power inverter to hook it up to your home power system. A video of the Musk speech is up on YouTube.