acceleration feels like being shoved down a lift shaft

If it arrived as a script rather than a press release, you would describe it all as one of the great super-villain plots.

A self-made billionaire decides to enchant the world with eco-friendly motoring while simultaneously developing massive rockets to carry humanity to Mars.

At some point, you would assume that the one plan with merge with the other, and much evil cackling would ensue, stopped only by the intervention of James Bond or Captain America, but thankfully thus far Elon Musk – the man behind both Tesla Motors and SpaceX – seems genuinely intent on green motoring and space exploration for the mutual benefit of mankind, his bank balance and his personal enjoyment.

Ireland had long been on Tesla’s seemingly-endless to-do list, and we’ve heard so much from so many about how perfect Ireland is for electric cars (largely flat, largely mild, largely small). The final, eventual arrival of Model S and Model X cars here this week, and the opening of two crucial premises finally conjoined the most promising electric car maker with the, allegedly, most promising electric island. Both the first Irish Tesla Store (in Sandyford, south Dublin) and the first Tesla Supercharger charging point (just off junction three of the M8 motorway) opened for business this week.

So much has been written and spoken about the Model S since it was first introduced that it seems to have been around for most of forever, but here at last is our first chance to drive the car for an extended time on Irish roads. Tesla was brave enough to entrust us with guiding the car not only through the barracuda shoals of south Dublin traffic, but also deep into the Wicklow mountains, home to roads that have unstitched the chassis of many a supposedly brilliant car.

Ludicrously fast

Let’s get the headline-grabbing stuff out of the way with – yes, Ludicrous Mode is just that, and it is brain-meltingly fast. Named for a gag in cult Mel Brooks Star Wars ripoff Spaceballs, Ludicrous Mode in our range-topping P100D Model S test car unleashes performance which requires a Porsche 911 Turbo S to keep pace with.

A 2.7 seconds 0-100kmh time, thanks to the near-as-dammit 1,000Nm of torque developed at precisely one rpm by the twin electric motors that give the Model S its four-wheel drive. Initial acceleration feels like being shoved down a long lift shaft, and the P100D can do it again and again without seeming to damage its estimated range too badly.

Ah yes, range. This is the Tesla’s real party trick, so forget about the acceleration. Quotes ranges vary, according to Tesla, from model to model and depending on expected use, but on an average rating, the least you should expect to see from a full battery is 450km.

Range

Our P100D, with its big battery stack built into the floor of the car can go for around 570km, while a 100D might break the 600km barrier in regular use and the official NEDC figures are even higher, albeit acknowledged as a useful fiction. Range anxiety has simply been eliminated, and the expected expansion of the Supercharger network (Tesla won’t say precisely how many it’s going to build, but says that these fast-chargers will serve all the major motorway routes, plus a few others) will diminish that fear even further.

Tesla will also sell you, for around €1,000 including fitting, a 7kWh home charging point which can top up a P100D, from flat, overnight. You’ll need an adaptor (roughly €400) to use the chunky CHADEMO fast-chargers already in place in Ireland, though.

On the run down to Macreddin in Co Wicklow, we used around 15-20 per cent of the battery’s charge, and then topped up at a ‘medium-speed’ Tesla Destination Charger installed at the Brooklodge Hotel – a thoroughly pleasant way to while away a coffee stop while the battery topped back up to around 85 per cent.

On the way along Wicklow’s winding and broken roads, though, the Model S started to reveal its shortcomings.

This is a car which, in terms of price, size and luxury, competes with the likes of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but it cannot match either for dynamic performance.

Poor trim

Perhaps it would be a bit much to expect that of a car maker barely 15-years old, creating an electric car from a blank sheet of paper, to be that good, but the steering and the responses from the air suspension were nothing better than fine. For a minimum of €83,581 (and a list price of €169,936 for our P100D), one might expect rather better than fine.

That’s true of the interior too. The enormous central screen dwarfs that of any other car and is super-slick and actually quite intuitive to use. At first, you think it’s going to be a distracting, confusing nightmare but the design and layout are actually very easy to fiddle with and it doesn’t take long to swish and flick around with ease.

The materials used – a mixture of wipe-clean white faux-leather (a vegan option is available, honestly), carbon-fibre and Alcantara suede all looked good and mostly felt good, but some panels and sections are still noticeably cheap, and we detected two distinct and irritating rattles. True, you hear those more in a car with no audible engine, but again, we point to the expectations engendered by the price tag. Flappy, noisy windscreen wipers too.

Such things were more noticeable still in a spin in the Model X SUV. With its roomy cabin (available in five, six and seven-seat layouts) and those incredible ‘Falcon’ rear doors (which are more Star Trek than lunch at William Shatner’s house) the X is expected to be at least as popular as the S, and that would be hardly surprising. But it too rattled on the inside, shared some of the slightly poor cabin finish and didn’t feel half so well-sorted in either chassis and steering as did the Model S.

Remote servicing

Then again, there’s an argument that we do need to re-set our expectations with Tesla. This is, after all, a car maker which can fix most problems over a 3G connection, and which offers the same four-year, 80,000km warranty on its used cars as on its new ones (so few moving parts, you see, and the batteries are guaranteed for up to eight years and unlimited miles).

A car company which, quite openly, allows its customers to act as ad-hoc test drivers for new systems and which is already shipping cars with the hardware (if not the software nor unlock codes) for fully autonomous driving. A car company that makes a five-seat (seven seats optional) luxury saloon that can out-punch Porsche’s most ferocious 911.

In that sense, it’s hard to know quite how to rate the Model S. It has no direct competitor yet, and realistically won’t until Porsche releases is upcoming Mission E saloon. It’s as futuristic as cars get, yet uses old-model Mercedes switches and has less than perfectly comfortable seats. It can accelerate like no other production car this side of a Bugatti Chiron, yet only handles about as well as a last-generation Audi A8. It’s maddening and wonderful in pretty much equal measure. It isn’t the future, as given the current rate of Tesla’s development and evolution, the future is likely to be much, much better again, but it’s unquestionably the present in its most bleeding-edge form, and an exceptionally exciting car.

The lowdown: Tesla Model S P110D.

Price: as tested, €169,936.

Power: 605hp.

Torque: 966Nm.

0-100kmh: 2.7sec.

Top speed: 250kmh.

Claimed one-charge range 613km.

CO2 emissions: 0g/km.

Motor tax: €120 per annum.

Verdict: In many ways, mind-bendingly brilliant. In some ways, maddeningly frustrating.

Our rating: 3/5

Lift Off from Your Laptop with 140,000 Images and Videos from NASA

Astronaut Dale A. Gardner holding up a “for sale” sign in 1984

If you need to escape Earth for a moment, NASA has just the right panacea. The agency recently launched a new online database of over 140,000 images, videos, and audio files that document its history, from space missions to in-house experiments. Easily searchable, the trove consolidates over 60 visual collections in one location and includes both new and historic images, such as views from the Apollo 11 journey.

There’s enough beauty here to make you cry, from images of gleaming auroras to crisp captures of planets. Not all them are celestial, with plenty of behind-the-scenes glimpses of laboratory work and test runs back here on our blue planet. You’ll even find some space-related art, including concept renderings, retrofuturistic visions, and contemporary works such as Paul Henry Ramirez’s “Stardust” (2007) — an homage to its eponymous mission, made of cometary material — and EV Day’s “Wheel of Optimism” (2006) — which imagines a Martian world with organic plant life.

NASA will continually update the database with archival records and its most recent images, which, as a nice bonus, are almost all in the public domain.

Moon crossing the face of the earth
Sizzling remains of a dead star, taken by NASA Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR
Hubble Space Telescope’s capture of auroras in Jupiter’s atmosphere in 2016
1979 photo of Jupiter by Voyager 1 spacecraft from over 25 million miles away
Space shuttle reentry art
Moon mission artwork from the Johnson Space Center collection
1975 NASA art by artist Rick Guidice imagining space colonization
Oil painting depicting the storms of Jupiter, the satellite Io, and the Great Red Spot
Technicians in 1971 examine the largest lunar rock sample collected by Apollo 14 crewmen.
A safety poster produced by artists on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics during World War II
Skylab food-heating and serving tray with food, drink, and utensils
View of a bag of asparagus and garlic paste about to be rehydrated, documented by the Expedition 36 crew

Will Tesla And Chinese Cloud Give This IBD 50 Stock A Lift? | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology leader Nvidia (NVDA) has just partnered with Alibaba (BABA) rival Tencent (TCEHY) to enhance the Chinese internet giant’s cloud services business.

Nvidia’s deep-learning platform will be integrated into Tencent’s cloud-computing business to “help companies in China rapidly integrate AI capabilities into their products and services,” according to Sam Xie, vice president of Tencent Cloud.

While Alibaba is better known in the U.S. due to its historic IPO in 2014, the two competitors are roughly the same size, with Tencent generating just under $22 billion in 2016 compared to Alibaba’s $17.2 billion for the first three quarters of fiscal 2017, which ends on Mar. 31.


IBD Best Mutual Fund Awards: View The Winners By Category


A Tale Of Two Teslas

Nvidia invented the graphics processing unit (GPU) in 1999, and offers the Nvidia Tesla family of GPUs to solve High-Performance Computing (HPC) challenges.

The California-based company has also teamed up with Elon Musk’s Tesla (TSLA) to have all its vehicles, including the Model S, Model X and the upcoming Model 3, equipped with the Nvidia Drive PX 2 “supercomputer” to provide self-driving capability.

Nvidia also has partnerships with several other major carmakers, including Audi, BMW (BMWYY), Mercedes-Benz parent Diamler (DDAIF), Volvo and Honda Motor (HMC).

And not to be outdone, Tencent just announced it acquired a 5% stake in Tesla.

No. 1 Stock On IBD 50

Boosted by a 92% average earnings growth over the last three quarters and a three-year EPS growth rate of 37%, Nvidia holds the No. 1 rank on the IBD 50 list of top growth stocks.

Within the Electronics-Semiconductors Fabless industry group, Nvidia ranks No. 2, behind Broadcom (AVGO) and Monolithic Power Systems (MPWR).

Will Base Reset Launch New Run?

Nvidia was a Wall Street darling in 2016, rising 261% from a March breakout before showing topping action in late December.

While forming its current consolidation, the stock undercut the low in its prior pattern to reset the base count, although it wasn’t as sharp a break as might be expected after such a sharp run-up.

Time will tell if the reset is enough to launch a new move, and signs of institutional demand have been mixed.

Nvidia has a middling C- Accumulation/Distribution Rating, which indicates a roughly equal amount of buying and selling over the last three months.

On the positive side, Nvidia’s Up/Down Volume Ratio rose Monday to hit the 1.0 benchmark that indicates demand, and it has posted eight quarters of rising fund ownership.

Also, the 10-day moving average is trying to cross back over the longer term 50-day line, which would be a sign of renewed technical strength.

On Wednesday, Nvidia spent another day of quiet trading and support along its 50-day moving average.

Look for heavier volume on up days to kick in as Nvidia tries to complete the base and clear the 121.02 buy point in strong trade. Also see if the Relative Strength line can move closer to new high ground.

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Get The Latest Tesla Stock News

Here’s what Trump could do to lift Apple shares to $175

Happy quadruple-witching St. Patrick’s Day. Now that’s something you don’t you get to say too often.

On this day of indulging in all that is green, it’s worth keeping an eye out for a little rattle for U.S. stocks, as we’ll get the simultaneous expiration of stock-index futures, stock-index options, stock options and single-stock futures.

That witchy event has been known to cause some volatility for equities — and there hasn’t been much of that for a while, at least when measured by the CBOE Volatility Index

VIX, -0.62%

 .

It’s been a busy week for POTUS — who has taken a lot of heat over the updated travel ban and his budget — and Friday’s G-20 meeting could bring him more flak on trade. Watch currencies as the U.S. side has been complaining over China and the euro.

That brings us to our call of the day, which lays out one reason why you may want to raise a Guinness to President No. 45.

Andy Hargreaves and the team at Pacific Crest have just raised their bull-case estimate on Apple

AAPL, +0.16%

 to $175 per share. They base that on a key campaign promise of President Donald Trump.


Last year, Trump floated the idea of a repatriation tax holiday for corporations, meaning they could bring cash held overseas back home without a huge penalty. Should that become a reality, Pacific Crest analysts see Apple boosting its domestic cash balance by $204 billion to $220 billion.

“If the U.S. allows offshore cash to be repatriated at a reduced tax rate, Apple could comfortably double or triple its regular dividend and still make a meaningful acquisition without impairing its balance sheet,” said Hargreaves and his team.

With repatriation a reality, Apple’s current dividend per share of $2.28 could easily double to around $4.56, said Pacific Crest. A higher dividend payout would help support shares if the next iPhone cycle comes in a little less frothy, as Pacific Crest and others have cautioned.

And this would help drive Apple to $175 per share, even if the next iPhone cycle is no great shakes, some analysts have said. While the Pacific Crest team lifted their best-case scenario price for Apple shares, they haven’t changed their base $140 price target.

Of course, Trump’s repatriation idea has been criticized. By Société Générale , for one, which warned last year that even if companies get a tax holiday, they may not use the cash to boost shares.

Also read: Trump’s tax holiday won’t make much of a difference without corporate-tax reform

Key market gauges

Dow

YMM7, +0.18%

 , S&P 500

ESM7, +0.05%

 and Nasdaq

NQM7, +0.12%

 futures are going nowhere. On Thursday, some post-Fed euphoria wore off, leaving the Dow

DJIA, -0.07%

 , S&P 500

SPX, -0.16%

 lower, though the Nasdaq

COMP, +0.01%

 squeaked out a positive close.

Gold

GCJ7, +0.20%

 is up a little and oil

CLJ7, +0.68%

CLJ7, +0.68%

is also moving higher.

The dollar

DXY, +0.17%

 is largely steady.

See the Market Snapshot column for the latest action.

The chart

The MSCI emerging-market index had a big day Thursday, surging more than 2% in its biggest move since July , as investors took the view that the Fed won’t be pressing the pedal to the metal on interest-rate hikes.

This chart from The Wall Street Journal’s Daily Shot shows just how well those equities have done this year, leaving the S&P 500 in their dust.


The buzz

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will meet the world’s top financial leaders at the G-20 meeting in Germany. He’s expected to give a little push to China and maybe Germany over strong-currency issues.

Adobe

ADBE, +0.20%

 is up after earnings beat expectations.

Exxon

XOM, +0.09%

 says a New York-probe over climate-change documents are an attempt to discredit it.

German leader Angela Merkel can finally go face-to-face with Trump at the White House, in a meeting postponed from earlier this week by the East Coast snowstorm. Expect trade, Russia and immigration to crop up.

Investors may have pushed up GoPro

GPRO, +15.78%

 shares after job cuts and an upbeat revenue outlook, but analysts are less sanguine.

French biotech firm says it’s on the verge of a cure for the same cancer that killed Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs.

The economy

Industrial production and capacity utilization are coming at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time, followed by consumer sentiment and leading indicators at 10 a.m. Eastern.

The stat

Crunching Trump’s budget numbers:

The quote
Everett Collection

Nothing to see here.

“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense. They … should be ignored.“ — That’s a spokesperson for the U.K.’s spy agency, GCHQ, commenting on a new wrinkle in the spying allegations against former President Obama.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer read out those Trump wiretapping claims, which were first made earlier in the week by Fox News legal analyst Napolitano.

Random read

Let the St Paddy’s Day tributes begin

Narrow escape for tourists, journalists from eruption of Sicily’s Mount Etna

Ambulance hijacking leaves EMT worker and mother of five dead in New York

Artist Ai Weiwei’s biggest-ever art installation is a tribute to refugees.

London’s Evening Standard is getting a new editor — ex U.K. finance minister George Osborne

The Oxford comma debate sorted, finally.

And swear away.

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Lego Announces Lift Off for ‘Women of NASA’ Set

Danish toymaker Lego plans to honor five women scientists, engineers and astronauts who worked for U.S. space agency NASA by releasing figurines of the pioneering women that its creator hopes will inspire more girls to pursue careers in science.

The women include computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, astronaut Sally Ride and Katherine Johnson, one of three black female mathematicians whose work on the U.S. space program in the 1960s is captured in Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures.”

Maia Weinstock, a science editor and the winner of a Lego competition for new sets created by fans, said she wanted to recognize women who made significant contributions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“There are people whose stories have not really been told who have made seminal contributions to the NASA programs,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

After submitting her design idea to a Lego website, Weinstock said it only took 15 days before her proposal garnered 10,000 public votes and attracted attention from the toymaker.

The set, which will also pay tribute to astronomer Nancy Grace Roman and astronaut Mae Jemison, will feature a mini version of the Hubble Space Telescope which was sent into space in the 1990s to collect data and take photographs.

It will also include a space shuttle with rocket boosters, and various instruments used during historic space missions like Apollo and Mercury.

Lego Ideas spokeswoman Lise Dydensborg announced Weinstock as the winner on Tuesday in a video posted on Twitter.

Weinstock said “it was a dream come true” that her design will be available by late 2017 or early 2018 and hopes it will inspire girls to become more interested in science, technology, engineering and research (STEM).

Even though the number of women involved in STEM has significantly increased in recent years, they are still under-represented in science, accounting for only about 30 percent of the world’s researchers, the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO says.

“To be able to see yourself in the toys that you play with and envision a career that you might go into, I think that’s really powerful. And I hope that girls will see that and be inspired,” she said. “I also want to make sure boys see that as well and recognize that women have a place in these fields too.”