Huge pay package convinces Elon Musk to stay at Tesla for 10 more years

Tesla has been a huge success under Elon Musk’s leadership, rising in value from less than $4 billion six years ago to $59 billion today. On Tuesday, Tesla’s board announced that it had convinced Musk to stay at the helm for another decade with a truly gargantuan performance-based pay package.

The pay package is tied to the value of the company’s stock as well as revenue and earnings targets. If Tesla’s stock never rises above $100 billion, Musk will get nothing for a decade’s work as Tesla’s CEO (aside from increases in the value of the stock he already has). If the stock reaches a value of $100 billion—and the company either achieves revenues of $20 billion or earnings of $1.5 billion—Musk will get 1 percent of the company’s stock, an award worth $1 billion.

Things get a lot more generous from there. If the stock rises to $150 billion (and Musk reaches another revenue or profit target), Musk gets another 1 percent of the stock, which will be worth $1.5 billion. That pattern continues in $50 billion increments until Tesla’s stock rises above $650 billion—at which point Musk will get a stock award worth $6.5 billion. Musk’s stock awards will total $45 billion if he hits all 12 milestones.

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An end to in-flight Wi-Fi misery is at hand with Gogo’s 2Ku

For this demo, Gogo Air provided a round-trip ticket on Delta Air Lines from DCA>DTW>DCA. I sat in coach and never left Detroit airport before boarding the return leg.

If you’re one of those people with the misfortune to follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the occasional complaint about the poor state of in-flight Internet service. After all, it’s incredibly frustrating when you’re on a deadline and unable to get any work done because you can’t even load the Ars CMS. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as I discovered late last year. Gogo Air, which provides in-flight connectivity on most of the major US airlines, noticed one of my frustrated outbursts and invited me to try out its latest service, a satellite-based system called 2Ku. Compared to the ATG4 system that most flyers are currently saddled with—including this author right now, currently on AA2617 at 37,000 feet—the difference is night and day.

Gogo Air provides in-flight Internet connectivity to most US passenger airlines (and quite a few international ones) and has been doing so since 2008. Originally, that was with a cellular service called ATG—for Air-To-Ground—which leveraged the old Airfone cellular network. More recently, Gogo Air upgraded that system to ATG4, bumping per-plane bandwidth from 3.1Mbps to 9.8Mbps. (For a much more in-depth look at the state of in-flight Wi-Fi back in the day, check out this comprehensive feature from 2011.)

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Tesla owner attempts Autopilot defense during DUI stop

A San Francisco Tesla owner has learned the hard way that Tesla’s Autopilot feature does not excuse getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. On Saturday, January 13, police discovered a man in his Tesla vehicle on the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “the man had apparently passed out in the stopped car while stuck in the flow of busy bridge traffic at 5:30pm, according to the California Highway Patrol.”

When police woke the man up, he assured officers that everything was fine because the car was “on autopilot.” No one was injured in the incident, and the California Highway Patrol made a snarky tweet about it:

Needless to say, other Tesla owners—and people who own competing systems like Cadillac’s Super Cruise—should not follow this guy’s example. No cars on the market right now have fully driverless technology available. Autopilot, Supercruise, and other products are driver assistance products—they’re designed to operate with an attentive human driver as a backup. Driving drunk using one of these systems is just as illegal as driving drunk in a conventional car.

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America finally gets Honda’s best: The 2018 Civic Type R

Type R-ism has long been vacant in the American car world. Used but once before, on the holy Acura Integra Type R (sold as a Honda in Europe and Asia), Honda has reserved its sharpest tools for other markets. But that stops now: the new Civic Type R is the very first Honda to wear the R badge in America and it’s here to fight its bigger and more established competitors. There’s no mistaking how and where on the grand automotive scale to place the new Civic Type R, even for the casual layperson. With a prominent splitter, wing, roof spoiler, air-channeling lumps and vents, and the curious three exhaust tips, it’s replete with boy-racer visuals.

But this boy arrives with the right tools. Tucked under the cornucopia of aero and design appendages sit some drop-dead serious bits of hardware that check all the boxes. But there’s a far more elusive and important box that this car manages to check—one of mechanical harmony.

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Tesla’s Model X: A lovely roadtripper with stiff daily driving competition

Jordan Golson

It’s been quite an unexpected decade at Tesla. In 2007, if you said that the EV company would release an all-electric sedan that became one of the fastest accelerating vehicles of all time and sold tens of thousands of units with numerous hardware and software improvements along the way, you’d have been sent to the loony bin. And if you then predicted the company would release an all-electric SUV that would do the same and develop and release (sort of) an affordable, stylish, and long-range EV… well, maybe you’d have been mistaken for a member of the Musk family.

And yet, Elon Musk and Tesla have done all those things with the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. The company has gone further with things like the Gigafactory; home, commercial, and utility battery products; and previews of the new Tesla Roadster and Tesla Semi, too. To be sure, Musk has made a lot of ambitious promises and really missed a lot of deadlines over the years—but people who have bet against Tesla over have lost a lot of money. (Tesla’s stock price is up almost 1700 percent since its June 2010 IPO, fyi.)

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A flaming superhero car and dieting trucks at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Jonathan Gitlin

DETROIT—Once upon a time, the North American International Auto Show was a mighty thing indeed. The American auto industry ruled the world, and this was their home event with all the bells and whistles that implies. But the world has changed. For one thing, people can and do use the Internet to work out what car they’re going to buy. And with the LA Auto Show, CES, and NAIAS in such close proximity to each other on the calendar, there just aren’t enough new things to fill all three events. The take-home impression from NAIAS this year—hot on the heels of a mediocre CES—was of a lackluster performance with little in the way to stop one in their tracks.

Ford opened the events at the Cobo Center with a trio of new models that we covered early in the week. Mercedes-Benz had a new G-Class that looks almost identical to the 1979 model, an example of which could be seen embedded in synthetic amber outside the front doors. By midweek this nearly-50 ton act of corporate whimsy was roped off, riven by cracks thanks to the sub-freezing temperatures. BMW gave the i8 hybrid a mid-life bump, and Audi showed its new A7 on this continent for the first time.

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Report: GM and Waymo lead driverless car race; Tesla lags far behind

In November, Waymo announced it would begin testing fully driverless vehicles with no one in the driver’s seat. Then, last week, GM petitioned the federal government for approval to mass-produce a car with no steering wheel or pedals—with plans to release it in 2019. In short, driverless cars are on the cusp of shifting from laboratory research projects to real, shipping products.

A new report from the consulting firm Navigant ranks the major players in this emerging driverless car industry. Navigant analysts see GM and Waymo as the clear industry leaders, while Ford, Daimler (teamed up with auto supplier Bosch), and Volkswagen Group are also strong contenders in Navigant’s view.

Dominating the driverless car business will require both advanced autonomous vehicle technology as well as the ability to mass-produce cars with the necessary sensors and computing hardware. In this respect, Silicon Valley tech companies and the OEMs face opposite challenges. Waymo has long been the leader in driverless software, but it needs to find a partner to help it manufacture the cars that will run that software. Conversely, car companies know how to build cars but don’t necessarily have the expertise to create the kind of sophisticated software required for fully self-driving vehicles.

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The 2019 Audi A7 is a sleek-looking fastback with some pretty cool tech

Jonathan Gitlin

DETROIT—It’s fair to say that this year’s North American International Auto Show has been a little lackluster. But one of the standouts was the North American debut of the new Audi A7. The previous model was—to my eyes—Audi’s best-looking model, and I was worried that its successor wouldn’t live up. Happily, that isn’t the case.

But the new A7 is not just a pretty face; under the skin, you’ll find almost all the same technology that Audi is packing into its A8 flagship sedan. That means class-leading infotainment and—once regulators are happy—some seriously advanced headlights and level 3 autonomous driving.

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