Tesla Model 3 YouTube Teaches EV Gear Shifting

[Note: This post was originally featured on EVObsession.]

Image via Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

If you own an electric vehicle (EV) or have driven one frequently enough to be familiar with its basic functioning, then you don’t need to view this Tesla YouTube video, titled, “Model 3 Guide | Gear Selection.” Then again, you’re not the audience that Tesla intended for this video. It’s a virtual opportunity to learn how to shift a Model 3 for someone who has had little to no exposure to an EV.

The Model 3 is the closest Tesla equivalent at this time to the original Volkswagen Beetle (i.e., “the People’s Car”). People in the middle to upper middle class segment of the population who depend on vehicle reliability for commuting must feel like they understand an EV’s basic functions if they are to make a purchase. This Model 3 Guide to gears is a step toward creating that space of Model 3 consumer comfort.

EVs are becoming more common on our streets and in our neighborhoods. Most people understand that battery electric cars run entirely on battery power, produce zero tailpipe emissions, and are recharged from an electrical outlet. And while questions about range, charging options, torque, regenerative braking, one-pedal driving, silent motors, and battery life will become part of the EV learning curve, actually being able to get in the EV and shift it into gear is the first step. That’s where the Tesla YouTube video “Model 3 Guide | Gear Selection” comes in.

The Tesla Model 3 caught the imaginations of the public when it was first shown on March 31, 2016, and it has been commonly referred to as the car that could take electric vehicles mainstream. Starting at $35,000, it could be considered analogous to the Model T that came off Henry Ford’s mass production line — a people’s EV.

Model 3 Guide | Gear Selection: Engaging 4 Gears

With Tesla Model 3 sales dwarfing sales of competing small and mid-sized luxury cars, it is evident that more and more potential car buyers are looking closely at the most affordable car in the Tesla catalog. With what the company describes as “the car of the future—with 310 mile range, 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.5 seconds, and our most refined design and engineering ever,” the Model 3 is truly a very appealing vehicle.

The “Model 3 Guide | Gear Selection” YouTube video functions as a simple training guide for new EV drivers, specifically those who are interested in purchasing a Tesla Model 3. As a new Model 3 owner sits behind the steering wheel, the first impression is likely to be one of absence — there is no instrument panel, speedometer, tachometer, odometer, or fuel gauge. A streamlined dashboard sets off and points the driver to a 15-inch touchscreen display that sits in the center dash.

Yet, as drivers settle into the interior of a Model 3 for the first time, they will notice that the gear shifter is in the same place as it would be in an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. Unlike the gear shifter between the seats on a Chevrolet Bolt EV, the gear shifter of a Model 3 is on the steering wheel.

The scenes in the The “Model 3 Guide | Gear Selection” video capture, in step-by-step sequence, how to engage different gears for everyday driving.

Push to Reverse

A white Tesla Model 3 is parallel parked between two red Teslas with a tropical condo complex in the  background. Shot from the back seat, we see the enormous touchscreen to the right of the driver with the “P” or park symbol featured in the touchscreen’s upper left quadrant. The driver in long-sleeved blue shirt reaches to the shift stick, which is located on the right steering wheel section, and lifts up. The Model 3 touchscreen changes to “R,” and the driver — whom we can now see is a female — inches the car backward to the furthest possible place in the parking space.

Push down to Drive

The driver reaches again to the shifter, curls her hand around it, and pushes downward. She grabs the steering wheel and pulls it left in an assertive tug. The car glides forward, and the shot that returns to the touchscreen signifies that the driving gear is titled “1.” The white Model 3 curls around the Tesla ahead of it on the street and enters into the traffic lane.

Push in to Park

In an out-of-sequence shot, the Model 3 is stopped. The driver reaches to the shift stick, gently touches and pushes in the button at the end of the shift stick, and the car quiets into park mode.

Hold down 1–2 Seconds for Neutral

The driver removes her hand from the steering wheel. She holds and pushes down on the shift stick. Voila! The touchscreen changes to “P” in the upper left corner, and the car is safely stopped back in its parking place.

Final Thoughts

As ICE vehicle manufacturers, the fossil fuel industry, and governments around the globe are awakening to the power and possibility of vehicle electrification, Tesla has expanded its luxury car catalog to include the smaller, less expensive Model 3. The new option has created a relatively affordable electric car, the Model 3, that hundreds of thousands of people are lining up to buy. It has a much wider target audience than Tesla’s previous Models S and X. Tesla’s ability now to produce the Model 3 at a rate during the week of August 24, 2018, according to the Bloomberg Model 3 Tracker, of over 6000 units per week speaks to the company’s positioning in the EV field well ahead of other auto manufacturers.

The Model 3 guide offers a segue to potential buyers who want to join into the world of EVs and the more refined subgroup of Tesla owners. It explicitly contradicts naysayers who drone on with bad information about “how difficult electric vehicles are to use.” The YouTube video complements a series of other Tesla-produced YouTube videos, and this series orients potential and new Model 3 buyers to the small but important features that distinguish this Tesla EV from a traditional ICE vehicle.

With this new audience of EV owners, the social transportation transition to electrification has overcome another hurdle. No, the ICE isn’t quite obsolete yet, but its years of dominance on the world’s streets and highways are numbered, and the Tesla Model 3 is a significant step toward that goal.


Effective Climate Change Messaging: A Media Lit Primer

[Note: This post was originally featured on CleanTechnica.]

As climate change advocates, we know how important it is to connect with our audiences through effective messaging. Training and technical assistance for environmental decision-makers is typical, but many of these leaders crave communications management. They understand communication challenges and recognize the importance of the “mindset” in framing our climate change communications.

But what are the best approaches to designing constructive, persuasive messages about climate change? What works to convince resistant audiences? What do deliberate climate change communications look like? These are important questions that need answers, because by understanding climate interpretation, we can change the national discourse — especially from the media — and focus on meaningful solutions that bring divergent groups together toward collaborative solutions to climate change.

climate change communications

Climate Change Communications Must Target Mental & Cultural Models

Jennifer West, coastal training program coordinator at the Narragansett Bay Estuarine Research Reserve, spoke at the Land & Water Conservation Summit at the University of Rhode Island campus in Kingston on March 10, 2018. She started out by outlining what climate change advocates need to know prior to composing climate change communications.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What does your audience know and think?
  • What would you like your audience to know, think, and do?

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How Media Literacy Can Help Us to Confront Fake News

As I collaborate with an excellent executive board for the upcoming 2018 Northeast Regional Media Literacy Conference, I can’t help but to engage in conversations around the important issue of fake news in today’s world. We’ve heard that fake news has been around for generations as a way to persuade citizens to believe and act in particular ways that support political agendas. I prefer to call this “disinformation,” and media literacy advocates and practitioners may never had a more powerful role in society than to help people who are admittedly confused about media messages to learn how to assess disinformation personally and practically.

Disinformation is sometimes considered part of a spectrum, with misinformation to the left and propaganda to the right. Regardless of degree, citizens’ ability to form evidence-based assessments of important social-based issues may be diluted through constant repetition of opinions that are presented as facts. Many of us are quite concerned about the vulnerability of democratic societies to disinformation and the normative effect disinformation may have on people everywhere.

Moreover, because social media platforms are a primary medium through which young people develop their political identities, disinformation distributed online with the intention of misleading voters or simply earning a profit has serious consequences for the future of informed citizenries everywhere. Young people absolutely need tools to help them navigate social media and to help them to assess what they hear and see around them as they’re growing up.


What can media literacy advocates and practitioners do to help others to be discerning consumers of media messages? Media literacy advocates and practitioners can…

  • Promote political news and information from reputable outlets;
  • Explicitly define elements of our global “post-truth” era, in which organizations provoke certain feelings, sensations, or reactions for a particular and sometimes disingenuous motive;
  • Unpack how persuasive techniques like celebrity impersonation, polarization, conspiracy theories, and trolling are used to mislead people;
  • Empower consumers to know when to trust content and at what point to be confident to share with others on social media platforms;
  • Bring together conservatives and progressives with the common goal to discuss disinformation in politics;
  • Develop multidisciplinary community-wide shared resources for investigating the presence and dissemination of media disinformation;
  • Provide opportunities for individuals to create or analyze their own “fake news,” a process which demystifies media messaging (like this free Dutch online game or a crowdsourced online site like Mind over Media);
  • Expose how social media tools amplify certain hashtags or messages to influence what’s trending, called computational propaganda;
  • Advocate for social media firms to design for democracy; and — most importantly —
  • Encourage people to vote.

It is imperative that media literacy advocates and practitioners help citizens to apply a critical eye to the information they consume. No, there’s no absolute solution to our current climate of disinformation. But we can increase social resistance against fake news as one step toward that goal.

If you’d like more information about offering a presentation at the 2018 Northeast Regional Media Literacy Conference, check out this Call for Presenters.

fake news

Photos on Foter.com and Foter.com and Foter.com

Digital Media Literacy Opportunities Galore!

[Note: This post was originally featured on the Media Education Lab]

 The Consequences of Attending the URI Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

I peered across the dim expanse of the art space, AS220 as I participated in “speed dating.” In a whirlwind I met librarian, Brooke; media consultant, Jen; and English educator, Erica. We formed dyads, shared lots of laughter, and together experienced the first weeklong URI Summer Institute in Digital Literacy. Brooke and I collaborated on a Storify called “Upstanders, Arise!” that helped students to advocate against bullying, and I later incorporated the composition into a Sports and Popular Culture curriculum unit I had designed in my position as a secondary English teacher.

Could that fabulous Summer Institute really have happened five years ago? Padlet, Socratic, Kahoot!, Edmondo, and Animoto were the Cool Tools that year, but curricular cohesion and literacy learning were just beginning to merge with digital education then. So it was in that latter direction I ran, and so many proverbial doors opened for me as a result of the conceptual framework I obtained from participating in the 2013 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy.

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“I’d Like to Drive a Hybrid Car” Hyundai Commercial Debunks Stereotypes

[Note: This post was originally featured on Gas2]

Hybrid cars should have much higher sales in the U.S. They’re a compromise between the conscious knowledge that fossil fuel engines hurt the environment and the subconscious stress produced by range anxiety. So, why aren’t more people buying hybrid cars?

Maybe it’s because of misinformation campaigns from fossil fuel-funded news outlets like Breitbart, which states that, “Apart from being poky and tinny and smug and expensive and utterly useless for long distances, electric cars are also terrible for health and the environment.”


Whew! There is so much research out there to contradict these Breitbart fallacies. Here are some stories that demonstrate how foolish the Breitbart claims are. (Hang your cursor over the explanations.)

The popularity of hybrids is growing annually, and they have the potential to unseat gasoline as the fuel for our cars, which scares the bejesus out of oil companies.

Yet, let’s acknowledge a fact about consumerism: people tend to buy items that are highly marketed. Since U.S. automakers have devoted nearly nothing to advertise any type of electric vehicle, their appeal remains relatively low in the U.S.

That is, until now. The folks over at Hyundai have a new commercial out on the television airwaves right now that pitches the 2017 Ioniq, a hybrid vehicle. The commercial is an overt attempt to debunk stereotypes of a hybrid driver. Instead of hiding behind research data, Hyundai has created a marketing message that explicitly addresses the average U.S. person’s concerns about driving a hybrid car. It’s funny, self-deprecating, and very effective.

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Misinformation Site, Breitbart Offers Nod to Tesla’s Elon Musk; What Purposes Do Musk’s Tweets Serve?

[Note: This post was originally featured on Teslarati]

Breitbart News Network featured a story recently on its website called “Elon Musk’s Tesla Stock Up $2 Billion Since Joining Trump’s Team.” The story argues that, as a result of recent Tesla stock increases, Musk owes allegiance to Donald Trump. Attention from the far-right Breitbart website, which is the most viewed U.S. conservative news, opinion, and commentary source in the U.S., comes at a time in which Elon Musk’s reputation has been questioned by his once-loyal following.


Why is the Breitbart story such bad timing for Musk?

Breitbart is known as the most significant misinformation site on the Internet. Privileging one set of representations over another, discourses like those typical within the Breitbart publication tend to claim the status of truth. Their discourses, which work as truth statements, make it difficult for many readers to identify how reality is shaped. Breitbart’s executive chairman, Steve Bannon, aligned the site so specifically toward a Trump vision of the world during the 2016 Presidential election that employees began to raise concerns about it being little more than a “fan club” for Trump.

Moreover, the right-wing outlet has been accused by some as being a hate site.  Breitbart engages in coordinated plans to bring their particular brand of intolerance to the political realm in because their style of propaganda works well. Linked to relations of power, the Breitbart stories tend to be constructed and reinforced by those in professional positions like Bannon who hold a particular authority and, thus, create knowledge about certain subjects like climate change, health care, and trade.

In the article about Elon Musk this week, Breitbart referred to individuals who seek equality for all as “the left’s social justice warriors” and described Twitter reactions to Musk’s collaboration with Trump as “vicious colorful language that cannot be reported.” The implication here is that Musk followers are immoral, disreputable people whose language is so coarse that it is would clearly offend the enlightened Breitbart readership.

Yes, this was a week in which the Tesla Motors, Inc. CEO found himself defending his position on Trump’s executive order that limits immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Musk has become a target of malaise due to his role on Trump’s manufacturing council. Disgruntled fans tweeted about how Musk could design a Mars mission but fail to retract a “BS Muslim ban;” what ownership of the competitor’s Chevy Volt would be like; and, his position on AG Sally Yates’ dismissal over the immigration issue. Some tweets, on the other hand, also supported Musk and implored him “to make a positive impact.”

Breitbart recounted that Musk’s attendance on “an official White House committee” (i.e. the Strategic and Policy Forum) on January 27 generated controversy. Breitbart characterized the comments as “mournful,” which cast Musk as leader of a losing battle to limit anthropogenic climate change through decentralized energy, especially the remarkable Tesla electric vehicle line. Breitbart noted Musk’s reply,  which included, “It’s getting me down. I’m just trying to make a positive contribution & hope good comes of it.” Interestingly, the publication allowed Musk’s empathy and altruism to shine through the otherwise negative narrative.

Breitbart also added in the article that, “when it comes to U.S. employment and manufacturing, Musk’s companies are near or at the top as the fastest-growing players.” It seems clear from this statement that the Trump administration recognizes the power that Elon Musk has to create U.S. jobs and further the country’s emergence from the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Breitbart’s care in recognizing Musk’s wherewithal suggests that the Trump administration is looking down the GNP road and wants to keep Musk close by, regardless of Musk’s opposite political beliefs and progressive values, just in case.

Musk’s use of Twitter to inform, educate, and empower

Twitter can be a site where democracy, messy as it can be, is at its best. Twitter’s multiple viewpoints allow for rich, if sometimes uncomfortable discourse. Musk understands this and engages in conversations with the public as a means of communication, education, and empowerment. For example, he wanted his followers to be intimately knowledgeable with the immigration order and to let him know “specific amendments,” which he would then bring to the advisory council to seek “consensus & present to President” Trump.

Indeed, Musk asked his followers to read “the source material” of the immigration ban; it is a way to infuse voices of reason and expertise rather than emotion and hyperbole into the conversation. That request, in turn, fostered a conversation about the importance of reading original documents and reports, rather than relying on tertiary sources for deconstruction and explanation. It was a lesson that many could have learned during the 2016 Presidential campaign, which was rife with fake news.

Rather than the “Trump / Musk charm offensive” that Breitbart suggests is the reason for Tesla’s rising stock prices, perhaps we should look to the Trump effect as just one of multiple reasons why Tesla is on the rise. The acquisition of Solar/City, the announcement of solar roof tiles, the 2017 production of the new Model 3, production at the Nevada Gigafactory, SpaceX series of successes… the list of recent accomplishments is quite long. Investors like to back a winner, and, even if Musk must hold his nose as he negotiates with Donald Trump and his advisers, the value of Tesla will continue to be robust.

It’s just not the White House that so many of us, Musk included, envisioned just a few months ago. And Breitbart’s entry to the field is scary enough for many of us to take notice. Be strong, Elon; you’re going to need tenacity to stay a step ahead. We know you’ll probably have to step up more than you originally anticipated when you agreed to serve. Thanks for taking on this huge responsibility on behalf of U.S. progressives.

Photo credit: Goat4421 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA


Branding Opportunities around the Holidays: Tesla and Radio Flyer

A child looks up wide-eyed as the holiday tree twinkles. “Ooh! A Tesla! My own Tesla!” she cries out, a smile spread wide across her face.

It’s a scene that’s been played out, in one form or another, for generations. This year’s holiday dream-come-true is the Tesla Radio Flyer Model S Electric Kids Car. In another generation long ago, it was the No. 4 Liberty Coaster — the first in the long line of historic Radio Flyer wagons to come from an immigrant named Antonio Pasin.

There’s another immigrant whose skills, like Pasin, brought him to the United States. Elon Musk, too, sought the refuge of new beginnings. After being bullied as a school child in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk attended college in Canada before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Musk has been the driving force behind Tesla Motors, Inc., one of the most innovative technology companies of the 21st century, and has revolutionized how we think about transportation.


With a keen business sense, Musk knows that Tesla should be looking to the next generation of U.S. citizens in the same ways that other companies seek out branding opportunities. Branding, which is the marketing practice of creating a recognizable name that holds deeper symbolic meaning, identifies and differentiates a product from others in its line. And branding has the capacity to instill positive images of Tesla for generations to come through a sense of nostalgia.

Enter the Tesla Radio Flyer Model S Electric Kids Car.

Robert Pasin, a grandson of founder Antonio Pasin, is “chief wagon officer” for Radio Flyer and has run the company since 1997. He spoke about the connection between certain classic or nostalgic items from our childhoods and their associated branding. “People love them,” he admitted readily, while also acknowledging that a company is “always going to be innovating.” The idea of Tesla in the Radio Flyer business family also helped to solve some of the electric generating problems that the company had encountered.

“When we started looking at the category of battery-operated ride-ons, one of the main pain points consumers would talk about is whenever the kid wanted to ride the car, the battery was dead. Our team thought they could solve it with a lithium-ion battery, but it’s really expensive. So if we were going to do lithium-ion, we should partner with Tesla, because they have the hottest, coolest electric car on the planet. We pitched it to Tesla about three years ago.”

According to Tesla, “Every Tesla Model S for Kids is a battery powered ride on that comes equipped with high-end features to recreate the ultimate Tesla experience.” Like the Radio Flyer brand itself, the Tesla for Kids car has the potential to become an American icon.

For 98 years, Radio Flyer toys have sent children on countless voyages of fantasy. With beauty, simplicity, and standards of safety, Radio Flyer toys have encouraged adventure and discovery; they’ve helped to capture the wonders of youth. In the same way that the Radio Flyer is rediscovered with each new generation, so, too, can the Tesla become part of a nostalgia of the timeless symbol of childhood freedom.

Moreover, Tesla will be adding credibility from a parent’s point of view with the Tesla Radio Flyer Model S Electric Kids Car. Just like the full size Tesla, parents can choose the paint color, performance, accessories, and personalization. Pasin says of their pitch to Tesla, “They didn’t bat an eye at Radio Flyer, but it did take awhile to sign the deal and convince (Tesla) it was a good thing to do.”

Pasin thinks his grandfather would like the Tesla within their product line. “One of his nicknames was ‘Little Ford,’” Pasin remembers. “The idea was he did for wagons what Ford did for cars. He was really interested in the latest and greatest products; he was not a nostalgic person at all. Partnering with Tesla, he would have thought was just awesome.”

And so will lots of children this holiday season when they discover a Tesla under the tree.

[A different version of this article appeared on Teslarati.]

Photo credit: Tesla