Tesla sets up research facility in the heart of the Big 3

By Kevin Armstrong
A rendering of Tesla's upcoming research and testing facility in Southfield, MI.
A rendering of Tesla's upcoming research and testing facility in Southfield, MI.
City of Southfield

Tesla, that tiny little pie-in-the-sky electric company that set up in California nearly two decades ago, is now moving into the heart of America's big three. Ford, General Motors and Dodge have a new neighbor, Tesla. The City of Southfield, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, has changed some rules to allow Elon Musk's company to expand.

The City of Southfield's slogan is the center of it all, and it promotes itself as Michigan's premier business address. The address of 21375 Telegraph Road is about to have a new tenant after the Council enacted three ordinances to allow for "Electric Vehicle Research, Testing, Repair and Maintenance Facilities" as requested by Tesla Inc.

According to Automotive News, the company will operate out of a nearly 35,000 square feet building. That's nothing compared to the 10,000,000 square foot Gigafactory in Texas, but it's still a significant size that the city welcomes. Southfield Planning Director Terry Croad said, "It's a well-known name. We continue to say that we're the center of it all. We're just finishing up our master plan, where we're trying to anticipate the industry moving to electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and automated vehicles. And we're trying to position ourselves with our zoning to be flexible for these new technologies."

It appears the community's master plan is forward-looking, as Croad also said, "As I've been telling people, this isn't your grandfather's bump shop. You know, there's no oils and gases. There's a lot of computers and chips and diagnostics in a much cleaner way than your typical automotive repair shop."

Tesla should not have a problem recruiting for the new facility as Forbes magazine named Southfield one of the United States' most livable metro area suburbs. It also has seven colleges, universities and trade schools, including Lawrence Technological University, which is noted in the top 40 institutions specializing in engineering, architecture and business.

Again, it's not an enormous building, but just moving into the neighborhood that has played such a significant role in the development of the automobile over the last century is telling. This area is set up for the transportation of cars and car parts to move efficiently to and from suppliers in Michigan and north of the border. There continues to be speculation that Canada could get the next Gigafactory. If that happens, Tesla will likely need even more space in Detroit. There goes the neighborhood.

Tesla Chief Designer Says His Favorite Vehicle Is Yet to Come

By Kevin Armstrong
The Tesla Roadster 2.0 could be Tesla's next vehicle to hit production
The Tesla Roadster 2.0 could be Tesla's next vehicle to hit production
Tesla

Tesla's Chief Designer, Franz von Holzhausen, has designed the company's entire fleet of vehicles, but the Model S, 3, X, Y, Cybertruck and Semi are not his favorites. "My favorite one is the one that is coming.

I can't talk about (it)," von Holzhausen told CNBC. He then quickly pivoted the conversation away from that topic. Nevertheless, several rumored vehicles will be the next to carry the "T" logo. So, which one is the creative mind of Tesla referring to in his evasive answer?

Franz von Holzhausen Interview

Let's start with the suspects. A cheaper, smaller and less expensive electric vehicle has been predicted for years. More recently, there have been ideas about a van. And then there is the second generation of the highly anticipated Roadster. While von Holzhausen didn't talk about the next one, he did give some clues later in the interview. "My all-time favorite car is a '62 250 GTO (Ferrari). I mean, it is quintessential. It's an insane car. I'm also a big fan of this kind of wedge era. The early (Lamborghini) Countachs, the whole kind of flat, low sports car. Those were always the posters on my wall."

The Designer Loves Sports Cars

When a 54-year-old man reminisces about the cars featured in posters plastered on his wall when he was a kid, he is not excited about a van or a compact vehicle — no, he is excited about a sports car. The second-generation Roadster was unveiled in 2017 simultaneously with the Semi. But there hasn't been much mention of the sports car since. The company is just now delivering Semis, and Cybertrucks are expected in 2023, but the Roadster doesn't have an ETA. Or does it? The chief designer says, "… the one that is coming." So, we can only assume that the Roadster is next to hit the production line.

Tesla Roadster 2.0

A Designer Who has Changed the Industry

One of the first employees of Tesla back in 2008, von Holzhausen, recalls the early days and how things have changed. "There is a moment that I thought when I first joined Tesla that it would be great to see multiple Teslas in one drive experience around town. And now, it's hard to go anywhere without seeing a bunch of Teslas. So, it's great to see the impact that Tesla has had in people's lives but also how it's changed the industry. It really pushed this idea that an EV can be better than an internal combustion vehicle."

He also gave some insight into designing vehicles that have and continue to change the auto industry, "Tesla isn't beholden to what has been done in the past. We are always trying to push the boundaries and deliver on a promise of something fun, something enjoyable and something you would love to own and tell your friends about."

It looks like The Roadster could be the next fun, enjoyable vehicle to tell everyone about.

Tesla's 2023 Model 3 'revamp' is for cost-cutting, not a redesign

By Lennon Cihak
Tesla's revamping its Model 3 vehicle
Tesla's revamping its Model 3 vehicle
Tesla

Tesla’s gearing up for a small "revamp" of its popular Model 3 vehicle, which is set to go into production in the middle of 2023.

According to Reuters, the revamp is called “Project Highland” and aimed at lowering the production costs and increasing the Model 3’s attractiveness and not because it needs a redesign. The Model 3 was launched back in 2017, and Tesla has already sold well over 1 million of them.

According to our sources, don’t expect a design overhaul of the Model 3, though. Instead, Project Highland will focus on reducing the number of components and complexity of the Model 3’s interior.

The main goal of this Model 3 revamp is to increase manufacturing efficiencies and reduce costs. Tesla would like to get the Long Range and possibly the Performance variants of the Model 3 to qualify for the US tax incentive for 2023. Under this tax credit, manufacturers’ suggested retail price for brand-new sedans must be less than $55,000. For SUVs, trucks and vans, the maximum price is capped at $80,000.

Our previous evaluation of the vehicles that would qualify include the Model 3 RWD, Model Y Long Range (AWD), and Model Y Performance. However, this will likely change once the revamp goes into production.

Do not expect new vehicle features to be added to the Model 3, such as a rear display, air suspension, or ventilated seats. These features would raise the price of the Model 3 and create a significant overlap between the Model 3 and the refreshed Model S.

Yoke Steering Wheel

One new feature that is possible in this Model 3 revamp is the introduction of a yoke steering wheel or more likely, a wheel similar to the Tesla Semi, which has capacitive controls and no stalks. The stalks are replaced with capacitive controls on the steering wheel and touch controls on the vehicle's display. We previously reported on this rumor in August.

Redesign Rumors

A few rumors are floating around online including a redesigned front bumper and removal of door handles in exchange for touchless doors like the Cybertruck and Roadster 2.0, although our source tells us that this is cool, but not accurate.

The revamped Model 3 is likely to remain without its ultrasonic sensors, as Tesla is beginning its transition to its own Tesla Vision. This technology uses the vehicle’s onboard cameras and vast amounts of data from the neural net to function.

Over the past few years, Tesla has made significant efficiencies in the way it builds and manufactures vehicles. Recently, the Model Y switched to a single-mold front casting. This requires 169 fewer pieces and 1,600 fewer welds. To achieve this, Tesla is using its Giga Presses at its Berlin Gigafactory.

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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 2022.44.2.

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

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