The “Doctor Frankenstein of Teslas” is one of the only people taking completely wrecked cars and putting them back together—without Tesla’s help.
In a scrapyard in Massachusetts, the YouTuber known as Rich Rebuilds runs a pair of jumper cables from a broken down Tesla Model S to a deep cycle battery.
“We may hear some clicks,” he says, as he prepares to connect the second lead. “We may hear some buzzing. The car may explode. I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
As a self-described “Doctor Frankenstein of Teslas,” this is Rich Benoit’s modus operandi. On YouTube, he’s chronicled his journey to learn how the cars’ internal systems work—and how to repair them after floods, fires and wrecks.
In a new Motherboard documentary, Benoit shows us the scrapyards where he scavenges Tesla parts, the basement where he categorizes them, and an auto body shop that lets him use its equipment. He shows us deep under the hood, where he wrestles with the motors, high-powered batteries and tangles of electronics and cables that make Teslas tick.
Benoit first started tinkering with Teslas when he was shopping for one of his own.
“I was looking for a Tesla, and I thought the prices were way too high,” Benoit told me. “They start at like $80,000, which is insane. I came across one on the internet, but they said it was in a flood. I thought ‘How hard can this be? You throw it in a bag of rice.’”
He ended up buying a second broken-down Tesla for parts, cobbling the two together in a repair process that he documented in-depth on YouTube.
Motivating Benoit is a deep belief in the “right to repair”—the philosophy that manufacturers shouldn’t be allowed to intentionally prevent consumers from repairing their own devices. Massachusetts has the country’s only automotive right to repair law, which was passed in 2012 and requires auto dealerships to sell repair parts to independent dealers. This has helped Benoit a bit, he said, but Tesla technically doesn’t have “dealerships” and so he’s had to scavenge for many of his parts. Legislation that would expand right to repair to other electronics has been proposed in a handful of states around the country.
Image: Xavier Aaronson
Benoit, who holds a day job in information technology in Boston, has an ambivalent relationship with Tesla. He loves the company’s electric cars, which he thinks are elegantly designed and represent a sustainable vision for transportation. But the company wants to retain control over how its vehicles are serviced and repaired. In 2016, for instance, the company refused to allow a former Tesla employee to open a repair shop in Denmark that would fix broken Teslas (it has since become Tesla-approved.)
“If you drive around, you’ll see a place that only fixes only Saabs, or they fix only Volvo,” Rich said. “Places like that are so important. You have to have these little mom and pop shops that know these cars well, that’ll fix it for a decent price, so that the manufacturer can’t monopolize the repair.”
Since his first Tesla restoration—he’s now working on a second—Rich has become a point-person in the Tesla repair community. He runs a Facebook group for people who want to sell and trade parts and has helped other enthusiasts across the country and as far away as Norway, Germany and South Africa.
Rich’s dream is to open a third-party Tesla repair shop, but he worries about the legal repercussions
“I’d like to, but I know how that ended for another set of people who tried to do that,” he said. “They shut them down within months. And Tesla doesn’t give them the tools they need.”
Image: Xavier Aaronson
A Tesla spokesperson declined to give Motherboard a statement about the specifics of this documentary, but said that, for a fee, it will inspect salvaged vehicles to assess which repairs are needed. It added that the repair of salvaged vehicles by unqualified mechanics could be dangerous to the mechanic and to other drivers on the road. It said that customers are free to do whatever they want with their cars, including repair them
Back in the scrapyard, Rich connects the battery to the derelict Tesla. There’s a grinding of electronics, and he cries out in excitement as the vehicle’s distinctive pop-out door handles push out, indicating there’s still life to the car.
“No frickin’ way!” he says. “The door handles just extended. Oh Jesus. Oh my god.”
More protein than beef. More omegas than salmon. Tons of calcium, antioxidants, and vitamin B. In their secret R&D lab, the scientists at Beyond Meat concocted a plant-protein-based performance burger that delivers the juicy flavor and texture of the real thing with none of the dietary and environmental downsides.
By: Rowan Jacobsen Dec 26, 2014
The Met Gala’s theme is “Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”
What exactly does that mean?
The theological history of the look celebrities will be wearing on the red carpet.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will launch its biggest Costume Institute collection yet on Monday. Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, featuring couture from fashion luminaries like Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, and Schiaparelli alongside 41 pieces of ecclesiastical dress on loan from the Vatican, will explore the intersection of the sacred and the profane.
Engaging with Catholicism’s influence on major 20th- and 21st-century designers — many of whom were born and raised Catholic — the exhibit will, in the words of the exhibit’s curator, Andrew Bolton, “raise deeper — and even more provocative — contemplations about the role dress plays within the Roman Catholic Church and the role the Roman Catholic Church plays within the fashionable imagination.”
Reverse-engineering one of the greatest minds of all time by his information diet.
The headquarters of Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment, sprawls across two square miles in the global manufacturing megalopolis of Shenzhen, China. At the center of its campus, surrounded by hulking office buildings of red brick and gray stone, sits a meticulously landscaped artificial pond. On the day I visited, two black swans glided across the water—fitting omens for the trajectory of Chinese technological power.
An endless day in US politics included: withdrawl from the Iran nuclear deal; a trip to North Korea (start by learning their leader’s name); jaw-dropping revelations about payments made to Michael Cohen’s Essential Consultants LLC from a company tied to a Russian oligarch questioned by Mueller’s team and corporations including AT&T (with a Twitter team that didn’t handle the news so well) and Novartis (Avenatti says to follow where the money went); more on Michael Cohen’s financial difficulties as he pledged his apartment as collateral; more ethics problems for Scott Pruitt (and Hugh Hewitt); reports that Trump ignored warnings from the State Department about deporting 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians currently in the country legally; bogus statistics used to justify separating families at the border; Russian hackers posed as IS to threaten military wives; a report from the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian targeting of election infrastructure; fair-housing advocates sued HUD for suspending fair-housing rules; the Department of Labor sought to allow teenagers to work longer hours in hazardous jobs; Alex van der Zwaan reported to prison; and primaries in four states (results cheat sheet). Today: confirmation hearings for CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel, “a Referendum on (Un-)Accountability”. Fatima Boudchar, who was tortured in a secret facility in Thailand, has A Few Questions for Gina Haspel.
Reviving the motto of the old Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci provides a starting point for tackling the crisis of politics today.
At the Battle of Ideas in London in October, Mick Hume took part in a debate on optimism and pessimism. His opening remarks are published below.
This discussion is entitled ‘The Battle Between Optimism and Pessimism’. Listening to some other debates at the Battle of Ideas, you could be forgiven for thinking that is something of a phoney war. Because it appears there are very few people around who would like to think of themselves as pessimists. This is entirely understandable; if you really couldn’t see a future, you might well choose to be somewhere quiet on your own with a rope this afternoon rather than debating the future at a conference.
America’s 50 worst charities rake in nearly $1 billion for corporate fundraisers Dirty secrets of the worst charities | Tampa Bay Times
The worst charity in America operates from a metal warehouse behind a gas station in Holiday.