Tesla's debut of vehicles without ultrasonic sensors raise questions

By Kevin Armstrong
Will Teslas have a blind spot directly in front of the vehicle?
Will Teslas have a blind spot directly in front of the vehicle?
Munro

They may look sleek and smooth without those circular sonic sensors, but the non-ultra-sonic Tesla was not welcomed with open arms by hundreds of Reddit users.

Two weeks after announcing it was removing ultrasonic sensors (USS), new Model 3s were delivered to owners looking noticeably less polka-dotted, leading to heated debates and several unanswered questions as the company transitions to an improved Tesla Vision and its occupancy network.

A few users said they would cancel their order, questioning how the system could effectively replace the sensors parking. User Zeek215 posted: "I had a base Model 3 to be delivered next month. I'm cancelling because of this. Not just because of the USS, but it's a trend in the wrong direction for what is an expensive car." MunroLivereported Tesla would save $114 per vehicle by eliminating USS. Users said they would have gladly paid the additional $114 to keep the system in the car.

However, this figure doesn't include the additional logistics needed to source, stock and maintain these sensors.

Munro takes a look at Tesla's USS

The biggest question about removing the USS system and going strictly with Vision is regarding accuracy. Tesla owners like pulling into parking spaces or garages and having the sensors indicate down to inches the distance to objects. The concern is that precision will be lost, and many people believe there is no way Vision can replace it.

But people were defending the switch. Callmesaul8889 posted: "Who said they don't know if they can guarantee feature parity? I've heard a bunch of Redditors claim that, but Tesla has explicitly said they feel they can match or exceed the USSs with Vision alone in the original announcement... I get the impression that some of you guys assume Tesla has a bunch of dumb dumb engineers who are constantly cutting costs without thinking of the consequences..."

Tesla anticipated these concerns when it announced it was removing USS. In that announcement, it stated: With today's software, this approach gives Autopilot high-definition spatial positioning, longer range visibility and ability to identify and differentiate between objects. As with many Tesla features, our occupancy network will continue to improve rapidly over time.

Many Reddit users who were more supportive of the Vision system believe it will reach parity with USS quickly, as the company said in the initial announcement. We will know when Tesla is confident with Vision when the non-polka dot vehicles get some features enabled.

For example, the non-USS Teslas will not be able to use Park Assist, Autopark, Summon or Smart Summon. But according to Tesla's website: once these features achieve performance parity with today's vehicles, they will be restored via a series of over-the-air software updates.

Another popular question was if the company would stop supporting the system in USS-enabled vehicles. Telsa posted: At this time, we do not plan to remove the functionality of ultrasonic sensors in our existing fleet. USS will be removed from the Model S and Model X in 2023.

The Kilowatts on Twitter took a close look at these new Teslas' cameras and discovered no significant differences between the two.

The repeater camera on a Tesla without USS compared to a current Tesla with USS
The repeater camera on a Tesla without USS compared to a current Tesla with USS
@klwtts/Twitter

Some speculated that Tesla would add a front bumper camera, but that doesn't appear to be the case. The biggest noticeable change is that the repeater cameras on the fenders appeared to have a slightly different housing. There's no word whether the lens itself, the sensor, or the angle of the camera is any different from previous Teslas.

Cybertruck

Since the Cybertruck's introduction, we've wondered how Tesla would integrate ultrasonic sensors into the vehicle, however, it looks like we now have our answer.

There's no question that this move cuts costs and reduces complexity for Tesla, allowing them to manufacture even more vehicles and increase operating profits. The only question is how close can Tesla's occupancy network get to the accuracy that ultrasonic sensors provide.

Cybertruck Unveiling in Five Minutes

Elon to Switch to the Cybertruck; Volume Production in 2024

By Kevin Armstrong
Cybertruck mass production to start in 2024
Cybertruck mass production to start in 2024
Kim Java

Tesla's fourth quarter and 2022 earnings call with investors was mostly good news unless you were planning to drive a Cybertruck soon. While company executives eagerly jumped on every question asked by investors, there was a noticeable pause when a point-blank question was asked about Cybertruck's mid-year production date.

Elon Musk responded "um, we do expect production to start, I don't know, maybe sometime this summer. But I always like to try to downplay the start of production because the start of production is always very slow. It increases exponentially, but it's always very slow at first. So I wouldn't put too much thought in start of production."

Volume Production Next Year

If the millions of people with Cybertruck reservations were in attendance, you might have felt the air leave the room. The previous belief was mass production would start by the end of 2023. There may be some stainless-steel beauties on the road by then, but only a few. "It's kind of when does volume production actually happen, and that's next year," said Musk.

Perhaps sensing some disappointed buyers, Lars Moravy, Tesla's Vice President of Vehicle Engineering added, "(I'd) like just to emphasize on that, we've started installation of all the production equipment here in Giga Texas, castings, general assembly, body shops. We built all our beta vehicles, some more coming still in the next month, but as you said, the ramp will really come 2024."

The Cybertruck Will be Elon's Next Car

Cybertruck was originally announced in 2019 at the memorable event that included the unbreakable armor glass smashing. Musk was wearing the smashed glass Cybertruck t-shirt while taking questions from investors. While the wait continues, he is adamant that it will be worth it, "So it's an incredible product. I can't wait to drive it personally. It will be the car that I drive every day… it's just one of those products that only comes along once in a while, and it's really special."

The original release deadline was set for 2021. However, the production date has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, like a global pandemic. Nevertheless, it is a positive sign that beta vehicles have been produced. Images of what appears to be a Cybertruck were leaked a few months ago.

Recently, chief designer Franz von Holzhausen did confirm that the Cybertruck was ready for production, but it's a work in progress. Every Tesla beta product gets thoroughly examined and meticulously reviewed before the next step. But at least it's a step in the right direction.

A Look at Tesla's 2022 Numbers and Record Quarter

By Gabe Rodriguez Morrison
Tesla set new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations.
Tesla set new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations.
Statista

Tesla published their Q4 2022 and full-year financial results, setting new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations. Tesla’s annual profit rose to $12.6 billion in 2022, from $5.5 billion in 2021. Annual revenue rose to $81.5 billion, from $53.8 billion the year prior. Tesla reported fourth-quarter revenue of $24.32 billion beating analysts' $24.07 billion estimate. The automaker also reported earnings per share of $1.19 beating analysts' $1.12 estimate.

Tesla’s stock rose more than 5% in after-hours trading following the earnings release and surged more than 10% the next day.

Tesla's Q4 2022 revenue set a new record for the company, up 59% from a year earlier. In addition to automotive revenue of $21.3 billion, Tesla recognized $324 million of deferred revenue from the company’s driver assistance systems.

FSD Beta Numbers

Tesla reported that 90 million miles have now been driven with FSD Beta, up from 58 million miles in the previous quarter. The company also confirmed that they have about 400,000 FSD Beta users in North America, a sizeable increase since the last report. With such a steep increase in miles driven and FSD Beta becoming widely available in North America, Tesla is making significant progress with its autonomous driving software.

In late 2022 and into this year, Tesla began cutting prices on its cars globally. Elon spoke about how recent price cuts have fueled a surge in demand for Tesla: “Thus far in January we’ve seen the strongest orders year-to-date than ever in our history. We’re currently seeing orders of almost twice the rate of production.” He added: “These price changes really make a difference for the average consumer.” Tesla acknowledges that average sales prices have to decrease over time because affordability is part of Tesla's mission to grow into a company that sells multiple millions of cars annually.

Price cuts will impact profitability, but margins should remain healthy, Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn affirmed. Tesla has wider operating margins than the industry average, which allows them to make such price cuts.

Elon issued an uncertain forecast for 2023, saying Tesla planned on 1.8 million vehicles for the year without specifying whether that was a target for production or deliveries. If the company were to deliver 1.8 million vehicles in 2023, that would result in 37% annual growth.

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Although we share official Tesla release notes, we are not affiliated with Tesla Motors. We are Tesla fans and supporters.

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View the release notes for the upcoming version 2023.2.0.5.

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Take a look at features that Elon Musk has said will be coming soon.

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