Hertz reportedly orders 100,000 Teslas in the single largest EV purchase ever

Tesla has just had a double-shot of good news on the sales front today. Hertz has ordered 100,000 Tesla EVs for its fleet, with plans to rent them out in major US markets and parts of Europe starting in November, according to Bloomberg. That would mark the largest electric vehicle order of all time and a major move by Hertz into electric car rentals.

The order is reportedly worth $4.2 billion for the fleet (which appears to be Model 3s) according to the report. It represents about a 1/10th of what Tesla can currently produce annually, possibly allowing Hertz to lock out other rental companies. It reportedly purchased well-appointed, rather than base model versions, and paid nearly the full list price for each unit.  

Hertz customers will have access to Tesla's supercharger network, and Hertz is supposedly also building its own charging infrastructure. Eventually, Hertz (which also owns the Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly brands) plans to go nearly fully electric with its half-million vehicle fleet. 

That's a pretty sharp turnaround for Hertz, considering that it went bankrupt in 2020 and only emerged in June of this year. It was purchased out of bankruptcy by distressed-debt firm Knighthead Capital Management (among other firms) for $6 billion. Following a big turnaround in the market, however, it's currently valued at $11.6 billion ahead of relisting on Nasdaq, Bloomberg reported. 

That's just half the good news for Tesla, though. The company's Model 3 was the best-selling car in Europe in September with around 24,600 registered units, marking the first time that an EV has topped the monthly standings, according to automotive analyst JATO. It's also the first time a vehicle manufactured outside the EU has led in sales. Tesla's sales were up by 58 percent over last year, and EV/PHEV sales in general rose 23 percent from 2020.

Last month, registrations accounted for 74 percent of [Tesla's] third quarter volume. Since its’ entry to the European market, the Model Y has also performed well, securing second position in the BEV ranking.

The news is big for Tesla and the EV industry in general, showing that EV sales in Europe are continuing to grow. Much of that has been driven by generous tax rebates and trade-in incentives on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. September was a particularly good month for Tesla, accounting for 74 percent of its third quarter volume, according to JATO

Still, the automotive sector as a whole has plummeted in Europe and elsewhere because of a global chip shortage. Renault recently said that it would produce at least 300,000 fewer vehicles this year due to the global semiconductor shortage, according to Reuters. "This year, the industry has responded well to the the pandemic, but it is now facing new supply chain challenges," said JATO analyst Felipe Munoz. "The growing popularity of EVs is encouraging, but sales are not yet strong enough to offset the big declines seen across other segments."

PayPal confirms it isn’t trying to acquire Pinterest right now

PayPal has stated that it's "not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest at this time," effectively denying rumors of an imminent $45 billion acquisition first reported by Bloomberg. The one-line release doesn't confirm or deny that the companies were ever in talks, but the response seems to end any possibility of a deal happening in the near future. Pinterest has yet to comment on the rumor. 

The deal seemed odd at first glance, considering that PayPal's banking and merchant business is far removed from a social network like Pinterest. PayPal recently acquired buy now, pay later provider Paidy and has gotten into cryptocurrency trading, but those things are at least related to its main business. However, Pinterest does have one commerce foothold with social shopping via pins that allow you to make purchases directly from the app. 

Apple’s new AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging are already down to $220

When Apple rolled out the new AirPods at its October 18th event, it didn't change the AirPods Pro but did introduce a MagSafe charging case. That's not a bad thing, as they already offered clear sound, good active noise cancellation and always-on Siri access. Now, we're already seeing the new Magsafe model on sale for the first time at Amazon for $220, or $29 off the regular $249 price. 

Buy Apple AirPods Pro at Amazon - $220

The AirPods Pro earned an 87 Engadget score for their improved sound quality, better fitting design, IPX4 water resistance, Siri access and easy switching between Apple devices. They also do a good job blocking out surrounding noise, and the latest feature can boost other people's voices during conversations — useful for folks with mild hearing difficulties. 

As part of its new AirPods and MacBook Pro launch, Apple also gave the AirPods Pro a MagSafe charging case for the same $249 price tag. As before, they have a built-in battery that allows you to go up to 24 hours without needing access to a wall plug. The addition of MagSafe makes charging a bit safer, as the cable will just pull out rather than tripping you or breaking if you accidentally catch it when walking by. 

If that feature doesn't matter much to you, the older AirPods Pro model is also on sale for $197, for a 21 percent discount. They have dropped to lower prices before, so you could also wait for a better deal — like on Black Friday coming up next month.

Elon Musk says ‘issues’ have forced Tesla to pull its latest full self-driving beta

Tesla's latest Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software 10.3 has been pulled shortly after it was released, with CEO Elon Musk citing "some issues" in a tweet, TechCrunch has reported. Musk said one such issue is "regression" with left turns, while testers have posted about phantom forward collision warnings, autosteer bugs and more. The FSD has supposedly been reverted to version 10.2, but some users said they no longer have access to FSD at all, according to The Verge

The latest FSD version 10.3 introduced a number of new features, according to the release notes posted on Reddit. Those include FSD Profiles that allow drivers to change vehicle behavior for rolling stops, lane changes, following distance and more. Others include improved creeping speed, reduced false slowdowns, improved crossing object velocity estimation and more. 

However, testers have noted in several videos that FSD is showing Forward Collision Warnings despite no apparent danger, along with unexpected autobraking. Others have seen traffic aware cruise control (TACC) problems, AutoPilot "panic" and other bugs.

Elon Musk tweeted that such issues are "to be expected with beta software," adding that "it is impossible to test all hardware configs in all conditions with internal QA, hence public tests." The last beta release, FSD 10.2, was delayed due to "last minute concerns" about the update. 

The pullback and Musk's comments about public beta testing are bound to further increase scrutiny of the FSD program. The NHTSA has already requested more data from Tesla around the public beta, saying Tesla needs to address "basic safety issues" before expanding it further. Regulators have also asked Tesla for more information about its "safety score" ratings that make certain drivers eligible for the FSD program. 

Regulators are also concerned that while Tesla drivers can opt into the beta program, drivers and pedestrians in the vicinity cannot. For example, some Tesla vehicles with the 10.3 software auto-braked without reason, which could have caused a collision with a vehicle following behind. 

The name itself is misleading (much like Autopilot), as FSD does not offer full self-driving at all, but simply advanced driver assistance.

‘Stardew Valley’ creator’s next game is ‘Haunted Chocolatier’

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone, aka "ConcernedApe," has made a surprise unveiling of his next game, Haunted Chocolatier. It has the same pixelated SNES look as Stardew, with characters, set-pieces and themes that are similarly cute and quirky. 

"In this game, you will play as a chocolatier living in a haunted castle. In order to thrive in your new role, you will have to gather rare ingredients, make delicious chocolates, and sell them in a chocolate shop," according to Barone's blog on the new website. The video shows characters heading out into into a town, the castle, a mountain and other scenarios to seek ingredients and fend off creatures.

It's Barone's first game since Stardew Valley launched in 2016, but so far it's not a lot more than a demo. Barone has yet to finalize the gameplay systems, and said he doesn't even want to be "tied down to any particular concept of what the game is" ahead of launch. 

Haunted Chocolatier does sound and look a lot like Stardew at first take. However, in a FAQ, Barone said there will be some substantial differences, particularly when it comes to gameplay.

Like Stardew Valley, Haunted Chocolatier is another "town game," where you move to a new town and try your hand at a new way of living. You’ll get to know the townspeople, achieve your goals and make progress in many ways. All of that is similar to Stardew Valley. However, the core gameplay and theming are quite a bit different. Haunted Chocolatier is more of an action-RPG compared to Stardew Valley. And instead of a farm being the focal point of your endeavors, it’s a chocolate shop.

Barone wouldn't reveal other details, like whether the new title is set in the same world as Stardew, nor a release date or even a general timeframe. He did say that it would be single-player only, with no plans for multiplayer. The game will "100 percent" come to PC, though he has "every intention of bringing it to the other major platforms as well."

‘Stardew Valley’ creator’s next game is ‘Haunted Chocolatier’

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone, aka "ConcernedApe," has made a surprise unveiling of his next game, Haunted Chocolatier. It has the same pixelated SNES look as Stardew, with characters, set-pieces and themes that are similarly cute and quirky. 

"In this game, you will play as a chocolatier living in a haunted castle. In order to thrive in your new role, you will have to gather rare ingredients, make delicious chocolates, and sell them in a chocolate shop," according to Barone's blog on the new website. The video shows characters heading out into into a town, the castle, a mountain and other scenarios to seek ingredients and fend off creatures.

It's Barone's first game since Stardew Valley launched in 2016, but so far it's not a lot more than a demo. Barone has yet to finalize the gameplay systems, and said he doesn't even want to be "tied down to any particular concept of what the game is" ahead of launch. 

Haunted Chocolatier does sound and look a lot like Stardew at first take. However, in a FAQ, Barone said there will be some substantial differences, particularly when it comes to gameplay.

Like Stardew Valley, Haunted Chocolatier is another "town game," where you move to a new town and try your hand at a new way of living. You’ll get to know the townspeople, achieve your goals and make progress in many ways. All of that is similar to Stardew Valley. However, the core gameplay and theming are quite a bit different. Haunted Chocolatier is more of an action-RPG compared to Stardew Valley. And instead of a farm being the focal point of your endeavors, it’s a chocolate shop.

Barone wouldn't reveal other details, like whether the new title is set in the same world as Stardew, nor a release date or even a general timeframe. He did say that it would be single-player only, with no plans for multiplayer. The game will "100 percent" come to PC, though he has "every intention of bringing it to the other major platforms as well."

Amazon’s big Samsung sale includes laptops, watches, phones and storage

Amazon's deal of the day is all about Samsung today, with products on sale ranging from laptops to Galaxy S smartphones to storage. That includes a 30 percent discount on Samsung's thin and pretty 13.3-inch Galaxy Book Pro laptop with an OLED display (on sale for $840), the Galaxy S21 Plus smartphone at $750 ($250 off), and the Galaxy Watch 4 priced at $220 — $90 off the regular $310 price.

Some of the best deals are on Samsung's laptops. The Galaxy Book Pro stands out not just because it's pretty, thin and light but because of that gorgeous AMOLED display. The 13.3-inch model in "Mystic Blue" is the standout deal, priced at just $840 for a savings of $360 (30 percent). It weighs in at just 1.92 pounds, offering an Intel 11th-gen Core-i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and 21 hours of battery life.  

Another great option that's far more on the budget side is Samsung's 11.6-inch Galaxy Chromebook 4, available for $179 or 28 percent off. It comes with 64GB of storage, 4GB RAM, Gigabit WiFi, Chrome OS and an HD Intel Celeron Processor N4000.  

Samsung laptop sale at Amazon
 Amazon's big Samsung sale includes laptops, watches, phones and storage
Engadget

As for smartphones, the deals are focusing on Samsung's high-end Galaxy S21 models. First up is the Galaxy S21 Plus that comes with a big 6.7-inch Full HD+ display and variable refresh rate up to 120Hz. It's just as capable under the hood, with a Snapdragon 888 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, 8K video and 5G capability. The regular price for that model is a cool $1,000, but you can get one today in Phantom Violet or Phantom Silver for $750, a 25 percent savings. 

If you want the very best Galaxy device, that would be the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The camera in particular is more capable, with a 108-megapixel sensor and Samsung's 100X "Space Zoom," along with 8K video and other features. It's got a larger, higher-resolution 3,200 x 1,440 display, a bigger battery, and more RAM and storage (12GB and 256GB, respectively). Normally priced at $1,200, that model is available at $950 in Phantom Black or Phantom Silver, 21 percent off the normal price. 

Samsung smartphone sale at Amazon
 Amazon's big Samsung sale includes laptops, watches, phones and storage
Engadget

Next up is watches and wireless earphones. We found Samsung's latest Galaxy Watch 4 model to be the best Android watch you can get, in part because it's using a new version of Wear OS built in collaboration with Google. It looks nice, offers comprehensive health tracking, has a bright and crisp screen, supports more third-party features and offers Samsung's touch-sensitive rotating bezel. Amazon's $220 sale price is not only the cheapest we've seen, but you get a free wireless charger, to boot. 

In our Engadget review, we said that Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro were its best earbuds yet, thanks to the comfy fit, good sound quality and wireless charging capability, with the main drawbacks being mediocre battery life and the lack of an iOS app. Amazon's selling them today for $140, which isn't quite the lowest price we've seen, but still a good 30 percent off. If you're willing to risk it, you could hold out for possibly a better Black Friday deal in about a month. 

Samsung watch and earphone sale at Amazon

Finally, if you're looking for storage, Samsung has you covered there, too. Samsung's T7 portable SSDs are popular for their relative portability and incredible USB 3.2 Gen2 write/read speeds of around 1,000 MB/s/1,050 MB/s — ideal for video editing and fast storage transfers. The T7 portable 1TB model is a particularly good deal, priced at $130 instead of $170 for a savings of 24 percent.

And if you need a smartphone storage bump without compromising performance, Samsung's EVO Select microSDXC UHS-I cards deliver 100MB/s, allowing fast photo transfers and video capture. The Samsung 512GB EVO Select model is now on sale for $55, for a savings of 21 percent. 

Samsung storage sale at Amazon

Amazon’s big Samsung sale includes laptops, watches, phones and storage

Amazon's deal of the day is all about Samsung today, with products on sale ranging from laptops to Galaxy S smartphones to storage. That includes a 30 percent discount on Samsung's thin and pretty 13.3-inch Galaxy Book Pro laptop with an OLED display (on sale for $840), the Galaxy S21 Plus smartphone at $750 ($250 off), and the Galaxy Watch 4 priced at $220 — $90 off the regular $310 price.

Some of the best deals are on Samsung's laptops. The Galaxy Book Pro stands out not just because it's pretty, thin and light but because of that gorgeous AMOLED display. The 13.3-inch model in "Mystic Blue" is the standout deal, priced at just $840 for a savings of $360 (30 percent). It weighs in at just 1.92 pounds, offering an Intel 11th-gen Core-i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and 21 hours of battery life.  

Another great option that's far more on the budget side is Samsung's 11.6-inch Galaxy Chromebook 4, available for $179 or 28 percent off. It comes with 64GB of storage, 4GB RAM, Gigabit WiFi, Chrome OS and an HD Intel Celeron Processor N4000.  

Samsung laptop sale at Amazon
 Amazon's big Samsung sale includes laptops, watches, phones and storage
Engadget

As for smartphones, the deals are focusing on Samsung's high-end Galaxy S21 models. First up is the Galaxy S21 Plus that comes with a big 6.7-inch Full HD+ display and variable refresh rate up to 120Hz. It's just as capable under the hood, with a Snapdragon 888 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, 8K video and 5G capability. The regular price for that model is a cool $1,000, but you can get one today in Phantom Violet or Phantom Silver for $750, a 25 percent savings. 

If you want the very best Galaxy device, that would be the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The camera in particular is more capable, with a 108-megapixel sensor and Samsung's 100X "Space Zoom," along with 8K video and other features. It's got a larger, higher-resolution 3,200 x 1,440 display, a bigger battery, and more RAM and storage (12GB and 256GB, respectively). Normally priced at $1,200, that model is available at $950 in Phantom Black or Phantom Silver, 21 percent off the normal price. 

Samsung smartphone sale at Amazon
 Amazon's big Samsung sale includes laptops, watches, phones and storage
Engadget

Next up is watches and wireless earphones. We found Samsung's latest Galaxy Watch 4 model to be the best Android watch you can get, in part because it's using a new version of Wear OS built in collaboration with Google. It looks nice, offers comprehensive health tracking, has a bright and crisp screen, supports more third-party features and offers Samsung's touch-sensitive rotating bezel. Amazon's $220 sale price is not only the cheapest we've seen, but you get a free wireless charger, to boot. 

In our Engadget review, we said that Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro were its best earbuds yet, thanks to the comfy fit, good sound quality and wireless charging capability, with the main drawbacks being mediocre battery life and the lack of an iOS app. Amazon's selling them today for $140, which isn't quite the lowest price we've seen, but still a good 30 percent off. If you're willing to risk it, you could hold out for possibly a better Black Friday deal in about a month. 

Samsung watch and earphone sale at Amazon

Finally, if you're looking for storage, Samsung has you covered there, too. Samsung's T7 portable SSDs are popular for their relative portability and incredible USB 3.2 Gen2 write/read speeds of around 1,000 MB/s/1,050 MB/s — ideal for video editing and fast storage transfers. The T7 portable 1TB model is a particularly good deal, priced at $130 instead of $170 for a savings of 24 percent.

And if you need a smartphone storage bump without compromising performance, Samsung's EVO Select microSDXC UHS-I cards deliver 100MB/s, allowing fast photo transfers and video capture. The Samsung 512GB EVO Select model is now on sale for $55, for a savings of 21 percent. 

Samsung storage sale at Amazon

The Dutch government claims it can decrypt Tesla’s hidden driving data

Tesla's closely-guarded driving data has been decrypted for the first time, according to a Dutch government-run forensic lab. The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) said it discovered a wealth of information about Tesla's Autopilot, along with data around speed, accelerator pedal positions, steering wheel angle and more. The findings will allow the government to "request more targeted data" to help determine the cause of accidents, the investigators said. 

The researchers already knew that Tesla vehicles encrypt and store accident related data, but not which data and how much. As such, they reverse-engineered the system and succeeded in "obtaining data from the models S, Y, X and 3," which they described in a paper presented at an accident analysis conference.

These data contain a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can help with a criminal investigation after a fatal traffic accident or an accident with injury. 

With knowledge of how to decrypt the storage, the NFI carried out tests with a Tesla Model S so it could compare the logs with real-world data. It found that the vehicle logs were "very accurate," with deviations less than 1 km/h (about 0.6 MPH).

The NSI also analyzed several accidents using the raw data it acquired. In one case, a Tesla on Autopilot collided with a car ahead that suddenly braked. Normally, if the Autopilot doesn't brake in time, the driver is supposed to take over.  

"In this case, the investigation showed that the driver did indeed intervene and also within the expected response time," said researcher Aart Spek. "The fact that it turned out to be a collision was because the following distance [chosen by Autopilot] was too tight in the busy traffic situation. That makes it interesting, because who is responsible for the following distance: the car or the driver?" 

It used to be possible to extract Autopilot data from Tesla EVs, but it's now encrypted in recent models, the investigators said. Tesla encrypts data for good reason, they acknowledged, including protecting its own IP from other manufacturers and guarding a driver's privacy. It also noted that the company does provide specific data to authorities and investigators if requested.

However, the team said that the extra data they extracted would allow for more detailed accident investigations, "especially into the role of driver assistance systems." It added that it would be ideal to know if other manufacturers stored the same level of detail over long periods of time. "If we would know better which data car manufacturers all store, we can also make more targeted claims through the courts or the Public Prosecution Service," said NFI investigator Frances Hoogendijk. "And ultimately that serves the interest of finding the truth after an accident."

The Dutch government claims it can decrypt Tesla’s hidden driving data

Tesla's closely-guarded driving data has been decrypted for the first time, according to a Dutch government-run forensic lab. The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) said it discovered a wealth of information about Tesla's Autopilot, along with data around speed, accelerator pedal positions, steering wheel angle and more. The findings will allow the government to "request more targeted data" to help determine the cause of accidents, the investigators said. 

The researchers already knew that Tesla vehicles encrypt and store accident related data, but not which data and how much. As such, they reverse-engineered the system and succeeded in "obtaining data from the models S, Y, X and 3," which they described in a paper presented at an accident analysis conference.

These data contain a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can help with a criminal investigation after a fatal traffic accident or an accident with injury. 

With knowledge of how to decrypt the storage, the NFI carried out tests with a Tesla Model S so it could compare the logs with real-world data. It found that the vehicle logs were "very accurate," with deviations less than 1 km/h (about 0.6 MPH).

The NSI also analyzed several accidents using the raw data it acquired. In one case, a Tesla on Autopilot collided with a car ahead that suddenly braked. Normally, if the Autopilot doesn't brake in time, the driver is supposed to take over.  

"In this case, the investigation showed that the driver did indeed intervene and also within the expected response time," said researcher Aart Spek. "The fact that it turned out to be a collision was because the following distance [chosen by Autopilot] was too tight in the busy traffic situation. That makes it interesting, because who is responsible for the following distance: the car or the driver?" 

It used to be possible to extract Autopilot data from Tesla EVs, but it's now encrypted in recent models, the investigators said. Tesla encrypts data for good reason, they acknowledged, including protecting its own IP from other manufacturers and guarding a driver's privacy. It also noted that the company does provide specific data to authorities and investigators if requested.

However, the team said that the extra data they extracted would allow for more detailed accident investigations, "especially into the role of driver assistance systems." It added that it would be ideal to know if other manufacturers stored the same level of detail over long periods of time. "If we would know better which data car manufacturers all store, we can also make more targeted claims through the courts or the Public Prosecution Service," said NFI investigator Frances Hoogendijk. "And ultimately that serves the interest of finding the truth after an accident."