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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on April 15th, 2019 | by Dr. Maximilian Holland

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Elon Musk’s Weekend Tweets — What Did We Learn?

April 15th, 2019 by  


Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a busy weekend on twitter, and a decent number of snippets of information emerged that will be of interest to current and future Tesla owners. Let’s dive in and review what we learned.

More on Full Self Driving

We had already learned from Musk’s recent interview with Lex Fridman that he believes the asset value of Tesla vehicles capable of Full Self Driving (FSD) will increase over time, because of their potential to generate revenue from mobility services on the Tesla Network. Musk followed up with a number of tweets shedding a bit more light on this.

Firstly, compared to other mobility service vehicles (conventional taxis, Ubers, etc.), the Model 3 is designed for a long service life, with the body and drive unit expected to last a million miles. Even the battery is designed to give reliable service for 1,500 cycles (close to 500,000 miles in the Long Range variant), and it will be relatively inexpensive to swap out the battery’s modules in the future, for those extreme high-mileage vehicles that may require it:

Musk also said that the price of FSD will increase over time, presumably in line with its growing autonomous abilities and thus the revenue generation potential that it provides to owners:

In a sub-thread, Musk agreed that the price increment might be “something like” $3,000 — but whether this would be a one-time increase, or whether several such pricing steps might occur, as FSD’s abilities increase, is less clear. Musk did make clear that Model Ys ordered now will lock in the current FSD pricing, and thus be sheltered from these future price increases. (Side note: two members of the CleanTechnica writing team may be locking in their Model Y orders this month, in part for this reason.) It is also clear that Musk’s basic message is that the future pricing of FSD will never again be as affordable as it is currently. Again, the justification for this is the vastly improved functionality it will offer over time:

Musk also offered some breadcrumbs about some of FSD’s future abilities:

According to Tesla superfan Ryan McCaffrey, there’s been some confusion in the Tesla owners community about whether vehicles with the initial Autopilot 2.0 hardware are upgradable to FSD, or only version 2.5 hardware vehicles. Musk clarified that all version 2.0 and higher/later vehicles can be upgraded/retrofitted to enable FSD:

Musk also linked to our own Alex Voigt’s article on The Mystery of Model 3 Demandand made some fun comments about horses:

Battery Cell Ramp

We covered late last year that Gigafactory 1 was ahead of its original schedule to reach an annualized capacity of 35 GWh — it looked like it was on track to get there by the start of 2019. Musk shed more light on the current capacity. Although the current output is somewhere close to a theoretical (peak?) 35 GWh annualized run rate, the “actual max output” is only currently around ~24 GWh run rate. In other words, the ramp to 35 GWh annualized is still ongoing — not yet achieved. The bottleneck is apparently Panasonic battery cells. Due to this, other suppliers have been tapped to cover Powerwall and Powerpack needs. Additionally, Tesla’s Energy sales were much lower in 2018 than they could have been with adequate battery cell supply. Here are the tweets:

Calling out Wall Street Sycophants

In response to yet another FUD piece on Tesla published by the WSJ last week (which — on principle — I will not link to), Musk said the “news outlet” is a sock puppet of Big Oil, and Bloomberg is almost as bad.

There were a few other tweets relating to Tesla, including calling it “poetic justice” that Sentry Mode was able to help identify an ex-Traffic Court Judge who scraped up a parked Tesla and only copped to it when tracked down by the Tesla owner.

SpaceX

There were also a good number of tweets relating to the great week that SpaceX has just had with its Falcon Heavy rocket. We won’t go through those here since it’s not really our focus.

SpaceX nails another landing (SpaceX photo)

We’ll know a lot more about the progress of Full Self Driving one week from now, when Tesla will hold an “investor day” on vehicle autonomy. Stay tuned for our reporting on that. 
 





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About the Author

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona.



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