Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen talks about Tesla's upcoming Cybertruck
Tesla's Cybertruck is ready to go into production, said the company's Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen during an interview on the Ride the Lightning podcast. However, the designer admits it's always a work in progress on all of Tesla's vehicles as the team continuously looks for ways to refine and improve the process.
The 55-minute interview covered several topics, but much of the conversation focused on the highly anticipated, Cybertruck. Listeners were teased with what could be in the final product and reminded of how we go to this point.
More Unknown Extras
Despite all the eyes on Tesla at all times, von Holzhausen says some brand-new features are coming with Cybertruck. "I'm not going to talk about them, but I think they'll be pleasant surprises, and I think they are the right things for the product, and they're the right kind of competitive things for the product as well.
When asked about including vehicle-to-grid charging, the function that allows energy to go back to the grid from the battery, or vehicle to home, von Holzhausen said, "I won't comment." Cybertruck being able to act as a boat was not discussed.
Different Logo on Cybertruck
There are no logos on the Cybertruck except inside the charge port. Tesla owners are familiar with the "T" logo that lights up when charging. The prototype Cybertruck has an 8-bit logo in that spot, "in those development days when we were designing the truck, it was such a like a low-resolution, low-bit idea in its kind of simplicity as a form we thought this 8-bit concept. So we did an 8-bit version of the T."
While von Holzhausen says we will have to wait to see if it appears on the production vehicle, he did agree that the 8-bit logo design should be added to shirts in the Tesla store.
More Details on the Unique Exterior
There are so many rare aspects of the Cybertruck, from the design to the stainless steel exterior shell, "We spent a lot of time developing a finish… the stainless is incredibly hard." But how will it hold up against scratches? "In the event that there is a scratch, we do have a process that you could basically buff it or remove the scratch and return to the basic finish."
It appears there won't be any color options available for Cybertruck. It will be stainless steel, "we experimented with some finishes. There is always the opportunity to wrap. The thing we wanted to do is preserve the hardness, and anytime you put something softer like a clear coat or a painted finish on the material, it just then... basically takes away from the idea of putting the hardest thing on the outer surface," said von Holzhausen.
Steering Wheel and Door Handles
Tesla recently made some changes when ordering a Model S or Model X. Buyers can now choose a conventional steering wheel or the yoke. But von Holzhausen is confident about what the Cybertruck will use, "the yoke makes a lot of sense. You know once you experience it, it's a great driving experience combined with Autopilot. It makes the whole kind of user experience in the interior cockpit simpler and cleaner." Last year there were rumors that Tesla may implement steer-by-wire in some of their vehicles, so it'll be interesting to see if the Cybertruck comes with this new feature.
The door handles will also be the same as what is on the Model X with the "chauffer" auto-present doors. However, when asked if that would be the same for both front and back doors, von Holzhausen said, "possibly on the back, there are also buttons."
Cybertruck was Almost Normal
It's been in the works for over half a decade, but von Holzhausen acknowledges that Tesla was considering something more mainstream, even working off silhouettes of what's on the road. "we have an opportunity to do something different, an opportunity that nobody else would have the balls to do, and Elon's like yeah, we've got to do it," said Von Holzhausen.
The designer confessed he wasn't sure about Cybertruck, "I didn't 100 percent know what to expect… It's so different it needs a moment to grow on you. It's like the first time you hear a song. Sometimes it can be grading, or like you're not sure if you like it, you listen to it three or four or five times, and suddenly it's your favorite song. You just need to... because it's so new and fresh you need to get comfortable with it, and I think this like it just is so radically different than expectations."
Finally, von Holzhausen says it's great that other manufacturers have produced electric trucks. He believes Tesla has "moved the needle" and will continue to do so.
Franz on Ride the Lightning
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Tesla's Model Y is the world's best selling car in Q1 of 2023
The Tesla Model Y made a monumental leap in Q1 2023, emerging as the world's best-selling car. Not just the best-selling EV, or the best-selling SUV, but the world's best-selling vehicle, period.
According to industry analysts JATO Dynamics, this marks the first occasion in history where an EV has claimed this title. The growth trajectory of Model Y sales globally over recent years had hinted at this milestone, fulfilling Tesla's earlier predictions that demand could reach a million units per year.
JATO Dynamics' Revealing Analysis: Model Y Trumps Corolla
Data compiled by JATO Dynamics analyst Felipe Munoz reveals a compelling story. Model Y's Q1 sales reached 267,200, outperforming Toyota Corolla's 256,400 sales. The comparison becomes even more dramatic when considering other top contenders like Toyota's Hilux, RAV4, and Camry. Model Y's sales, largely driven by Tesla's significant price cuts, are escalating, while Corolla sales appear to be dwindling. This dynamic is particularly impressive considering the Model Y's introduction to the market a year later than the Corolla (2019 vs 2018).
The Legacy of the Toyota Corolla: A Reign Unchallenged Until Now
For decades, the Toyota Corolla has held an uncontested reign as the world's best-selling car, with its affordability, reliability, and universal availability contributing to its enduring popularity. Its 2018 iteration further consolidated this status, offering consumers a well-rounded package that catered to a wide variety of tastes and requirements across different markets.
The Corolla was indeed a global favorite, securing sales in practically every corner of the world, from North America and Europe to Asia. Its broad availability in multiple body styles — sedan, hatchback, and wagon — further expanded its appeal to a diverse customer base. Despite this formidable legacy, the emergence of the Model Y has marked a shift in consumer preferences. It heralds a new era in which electric vehicles can claim the top spot in global car sales.
The High Price Tag vs. Accessibility: Tesla's Strategic Moves
Tesla's ambitious projections regarding the Model Y have come to fruition, culminating in an average quarterly sales increase from last year's 189k to this year's Q1 figures. With this growth rate, Model Y is on track to exit 2023 with over 1 million sales. A feat previously only achieved by Toyota Corolla, which sold 1.12 million units in the previous year.
One may wonder how an EV with a price tag of approximately $40k (after credits) could outperform the more affordable Corolla, priced at $21k for a base model. Despite Model Y's higher cost, Tesla's strategic price cuts have widened its appeal, contributing significantly to its increased market share.
Elon Musk's prediction that the Model Y could become the world's best-selling car seems increasingly plausible. Given its current momentum and the growing demand for EVs, it's likely that Model Y will maintain its leading position, making Tesla's mark in the automotive industry even more indelible.
Not only will it contain the significant changes from FSD Beta 11.4, but also the many improvements Tesla added in FSD Beta 11.4.1, as well as non-FSD features that were introduced in updates 2023.2 and 2023.6.
It also made improvements in assertiveness when encountering nearby pedestrians or vehicles in its path, which can lead to sudden braking or jerkiness. The vehicle will now measure the probability of interacting with the vehicle or pedestrian instead of coming to a sudden halt.
Other refinements include several improvements to lane changes and when to take them, as well as a better understanding of bus lanes and when to use them.
Improved Speed Control
One of the biggest improvements in this beta involves speed control. When in Autopilot, the vehicle will typically use the speed limit of the road plus the percentage offset that you have set. However, as we know, the speed limit is only one factor that should be considered when determining your speed. Autopilot will now smartly adapt its speed based on weather conditions and the type of road it's on. For example, the vehicle will travel slower in parking lots, dirt roads, or in residential areas.
When Tesla employees receive an FSD update, it indicates that we may see a public release, however, a lot of it is dependent on what issues are discovered.
Since FSD Beta 11.4.2 is a minor revision to the partially released beta 11.4.1, there is a much higher likelihood we could see this beta go into a wide release. Tesla last released FSD Beta 11.3.6 in the second week of April.
New Non-FSD Features
In addition to this update incorporating all the enhancements from FSD Beta versions 11.4 (release notes) and 11.4.1 (release notes), FSD Beta 11.4.2 also introduces several new non-FSD features that were previously available in updates 2023.2 and 2023.6.
These features include auto steering wheel heat (just in time for summer!), support for the Icelandic language, Tesla's Manual app, improvements to Apple Music, and changes to Sentry Mode lighting.
This FSD Beta update will be a major update for owners with access to FSD, not only bringing massive FSD improvements but also bringing them up to speed with some of the latest Tesla features.
Update: Musk has just tweeted that this release may be the one that goes to a wide release. Here's hoping! Keep your fingers crossed everyone, and keep checking that app for an update.
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