Tesla Provides Cybertruck Update, Hints at Surprises

By Kevin Armstrong
Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen talks about Tesla's upcoming Cybertruck
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

Tesla's Supercharger Team Shakeup: Firings, Rehiring, and Future Prospects

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently fired the entire Supercharger team, including Tesla’s head of charging – Rebecca Tinucci, after she pushed back on the extreme layoffs that took place right before the cut.

The Supercharger team consisted of over 500 employees, at least after the initial layoffs. In the following days and weeks, Tesla began to rehire some of the employees that it had fired.

Some Damage Done

In the immediate aftermath of the firing of the Supercharger team, contractors and site planners were left bewildered, with no contact from the Supercharger team that was responsible for payment, planning, and decision-making.

As this has played out, new Supercharger deployments have been reduced – stations that were already being built are being completed, but no new announcements have been made since t

It was dire news at the time - but it isn’t all bad.

Returning Employees

Now, more and more of the employees that were fired are beginning to return to Tesla, some of whom are announcing that they were asked to return to Tesla in their previous capacities.

George Bahadue, Senior Manager of Site Acquisition and Business Development commented on LinkedIn:

“Two weeks ago, I was asked to return to Tesla in my previous capacity heading up the business development and site acquisition for Tesla charging – I accepted.”

His reasoning to accept the position was a quote from Rebecca Tinucci:

“You work at Tesla because you hope to have at least a small impact on our collective future – aspirationally, to leave the world better for our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren – by accelerating the transition to sustainable energy. And that mission is too important to allow any distractions.”

New Stations Could be Coming Soon

With the restaffing of the Supercharger team, especially with the return of George Bahadue, we can expect that new Supercharger sites may be announced in the coming weeks, as the ripple effect from the layoffs begins to settle.

The rehiring of experienced staff suggests that Tesla and Elon Musk are still committed to the vision of maintaining and expanding its Supercharger network – the largest and most reliable charging network in North America, which is crucial for the mission to move the world to renewable energy.

Tesla Cuts Model Y Output in China – Economic Slowdown and Anticipated Project Juniper Launch

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently cut Model Y output in China, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), Tesla’s production of the Model Y in China experienced a decline of approximately 18% in March, and 33% in April, versus the same time last year.

Output Cuts

These output cuts can be attributed to Tesla’s recent decision to reduce production of the Model Y at Giga Shanghai by at least 20% from March to June 2024. This was attributed to an unnamed Spokesperson by Reuters last week.

This decision could be multifaceted – the primary reason being an economic slowdown in China as price wars continue to be waged between EV manufacturers, including Tesla. On the flipside, Tesla has continued its production of the updated 2024 Model 3, colloquially referred to as the Highland, with an increase of 10%.

Project Juniper?

The second reason for this slowdown could be the incoming arrival of the Model Y refresh – also known as Project Juniper. Tesla China has already introduced an updated Model Y with a unique cloth dash with similar ambient lighting as the Model 3.

The Model 3 Highland was also introduced in China before its introduction to other markets, including North America and Europe.

Juniper Upgrade Speculation

Not much has been seen about Project Juniper at this time, but we can expect a similar suite of upgrades that match the updated 2024 Model 3 Highland – including a new front fascia design, updated doors and dynamics, steering updates, improved control arms, ambient lighting, new seats, and improved range.

There is a continued expectation that Tesla is pushing back its Model Y refresh – its best-selling vehicle – to make a bigger splash. This could include newer features – like the Cybertruck’s Steer-by-Wire, front camera, or other upgrades and changes – like the lack of stalks on the rest of the Tesla line-up.

Tesla previously confirmed we’re not seeing the Juniper Y this year, this could be the time needed to retool and upgrade lines to prepare for its introduction sometime next year.

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