Tesla's Project Juniper Focuses on the Model Y; Don't Expect a Major Refresh

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla will refresh its Model Y with minor refinements to the interior and exterior of the vehicle
Tesla will refresh its Model Y with minor refinements to the interior and exterior of the vehicle
Tesla

Tesla is gearing up for a production overhaul of its top-selling Model Y with the code name Project Juniper. It’s a fitting code name because juniper is an evergreen shrub, and according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, evergreen is retaining freshness or interest; universally and continually relevant. Reuters reports the update will include changes to the electric vehicle's exterior and interior and is set to begin production in October 2024.

Don't Expect A Complete Refresh

A source has told us not to expect a complete refresh, much like the Model S and Model X went through in 2021, but more of a refinement in various areas. This will not be a major redesign, internally or externally, however, the exterior of the vehicle is expected to have more changes. Much like the Model 3's upcoming changes with Project Highland, the majority of these changes are focused on cost-cutting.

Cost-Cutting

A large portion of the Investor Day presentation focused on cutting costs and finding more efficient processes while using a smaller footprint to do so. Tesla CEO was asked if this process would go into the Model Y. “Retooling a factory means bringing a factory down for an extended period of time, I prefer not to do that, I think. There are variants on how Model Y is produced. We’ve got variance where there is a rear casting, where there is a front and rear casting, and we have the structural battery pack. There are a number of small improvements that occur. For the really big changes those would be future vehicles.”

The Model S and Model X have been refreshed, and the new Model 3, code name Highland, is underway. This is a significant move for Tesla, as the Model Y is its top-selling vehicle and was the top-selling EV in the world last year. As the global leader in EV sales, the Model Y has a target on its back, so it's important to keep it fresh. Project Juniper will deepen Tesla's already massive production cost advantages over the competition and address pressure in markets like China and the United States for a visible reboot of its best-selling vehicles.

It was not immediately clear how sweeping the revamp would be or what specific changes or improvements Tesla was looking to deliver with the new Model Y. However, we expect that the many changes that Tesla is applying to the Model 3 in Project Highland will also carry over to the Model Y. The company has reportedly asked suppliers for quotes for exterior and interior components that will be used in the new version of the Model Y.

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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