Musk's Bold Prediction: Tesla FSD To Reach Level 4 or Higher This Year

By Kevin Armstrong
Musk is more specific about his FSD claims this time around
Musk is more specific about his FSD claims this time around
Not a Tesla App

Elon Musk has once again stated Tesla's cars will be fully self-driving by the end of the year. The claim, made during an AI conference in China (video below), is the latest entry in a long string of such predictions from Musk. Despite the seemingly unfaltering progress of Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology, the authenticity of Musk's claims has been questioned due to his history of similar yet unfulfilled promises.

The Most Recent Claim: A More Definitive Prediction?

In his latest statement, Musk ventured to be more specific about Tesla's progress. He suggested the company is on the cusp of achieving Level 4 or even Level 5 autonomous driving. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), these levels signify full autonomy in specific conditions (Level 4) or all conditions (Level 5).

The levels of vehicle automation as defined by SAE
The levels of vehicle automation as defined by SAE
SAE

However, this prediction has been met with skepticism, and understandably so. After all, Musk has previously set and then missed similar timelines for Tesla's full self-driving capabilities. The question on everyone's mind is whether this renewed specificity indicates an imminent breakthrough or just another overly optimistic prediction.

Musk's Full Autonomy Promises: A Brief History

Elon Musk has a track record of optimism regarding Tesla's autonomous capabilities. As early as 2016, Musk stated that all cars Tesla sold would be capable of self-driving. Through subsequent software updates, these vehicles would eventually exceed human safety performance in driving, creating a paradigm shift in personal transportation.

As ambitious as this claim was, it was embraced with excitement by Tesla's avid fan base and many technology enthusiasts alike. After all, the concept of a car that can safely ferry its passengers from point A to point B without human intervention seems like a future worth waiting for.

However, the waiting has been longer than Musk initially suggested. Since the release of the FSD Beta, Tesla's path toward a self-driving future has become somewhat obscured. Phrases such as "feature complete" and "capable of driving at a level safer than humans" have begun to populate Tesla's communications about their self-driving technology. However, a clear timeline or roadmap detailing when the FSD will transition from beta to a fully realized product has been less apparent.

The Autonomous Driving Landscape: Looking Beyond Tesla

The quest for full autonomy is not just a Tesla story; it's an industry-wide endeavor. Tesla might be the most vocal about its self-driving ambitions, but they are far from being the only player in the field. Many other automakers and tech companies are tirelessly working towards similar goals, each with its approach and timeline.

The implications of achieving full autonomy are immense. The potential benefits are significant, from a decrease in traffic accidents to the possibility of a fully automated taxi service. However, reaching this future is not just a matter of technological achievement. It also involves overcoming regulatory hurdles, societal acceptance, and a host of ethical considerations.

Impact Report: Tesla Vehicles 8x Less Likely to Catch Fire, Batteries Degrade 15% After 200k Miles

By Karan Singh

Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by producing products far superior to fossil fuel alternatives and sourcing and manufacturing them sustainably. Tesla released its 2023 Impact Report yesterday, discussing their ongoing impact on the environment and the improvements seen.

Displacing Fossil Fuels

In 2023 alone, Tesla’s impact on the environment through its vehicles, Powerwall, and Solar Roof has been massively impactful – Tesla customers avoided releasing the equivalent of 20 million metric tons of CO2e into the environment. That is the equivalent of 51 billion miles of driving an average internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

Each Tesla vehicle that is on the road avoids an average of 51 tons of CO2e emission into the environment. After just 3 years of driving, a Tesla’s lifetime emissions are lower than those of a comparable ICE vehicle. After the average lifespan of a vehicle in North America – 17 years – a single Tesla will have exceeded that value 5.5 times over.

Integrated Ecosystems

Tesla offers comprehensive ecosystems of products to address clean energy and transportation needs, from Megapack, Solar Roof, and Powerwall, to the Model S, 3, X, Y, and Cybertruck.

Tesla Solar produces power for storage in Megapacks or Powerwalls, which charge electric vehicles. Tesla also produces some of their own batteries, for both its storage applications and vehicles, enabling a complete cycle.

On the software side, products like Autobidder, Full Self-Driving, and the upcoming Robotaxi work to maximize the productivity of electricity that is stored in vehicles, helping to further displace fossil fuels in a single ecosystem of well-designed products.

Tesla's ecosystem depicted.
Tesla's ecosystem depicted.

World’s Best EVs

Tesla’s Model Y is still the best-selling vehicle in 2023, a trend likely to continue in 2024. And it’s not for little reason. It is the world’s most efficient EV, capable of running Autopilot/FSD, and is considered one of the best safety picks in both North America and Europe. Tesla’s data has also proven that they are, on average, 7.63 times safer than a traditional vehicle when running Autopilot.

Additionally, the Model Y is priced $3,000 USD below the average new vehicle in the US before the Federal EV Tax Credit – a difference of $17,000 after factoring in the credit and gas savings over 5 years.

Battery Degradation

Model 3/Y battery degradation over time
Model 3/Y battery degradation over time

Battery degradation is often brought up as a concern for EVs and the environment. Batteries fade away, become useless, and cannot be recycled. According to Tesla’s data and experience, this is far from the truth.

In fact, Tesla has found that their batteries degrade about 15% after 200,000 miles – the equivalent of the average lifetime of a vehicle. And in fact, they do even better in the cold than they do in the heat, with better degradation performance in Canada over the US.

Another interesting fact is that Tesla vehicles in particular – are 8 times less likely to be victim to a vehicle fire, compared against the US average.

Sustainable Sourcing

Sustainably sourcing materials is essential to reach Tesla’s vision of a world with reduced environmental impacts. In 2023, Tesla recovered enough battery materials to produce 43,000 Model Y RWD vehicles, while also sourcing Gigafactory Berlin with 100% renewable energy.

Overall, Tesla solar owners generated enough energy to power all Tesla locations, including all the Mega and Giga Factories, and all other facilities – over 3 times.

Tesla has also reduced water use by 25% over the last 5 years for vehicle production, marking a new milestone low – at 2.48 cubic meters of water, versus 3.37 cubic meters of water for an average ICE vehicle.

Tesla Breaks Ground on New Megafactory in Shanghai

By Karan Singh

Tesla broke ground on a new Megafactory in Shanghai’s Lingang free trade zone pilot program. This factory will be Tesla’s first foray into battery production outside of the United States, mirroring its direction in Lathrop, California.

Batteries, Not Cars

Megafactory Shanghai won’t be producing cars but rather will be producing Megapacks, which are grid-scale battery solutions that can power entire electricity grids.

Each massive Megapack battery unit, about the size of a shipping container, can deliver about 1.2 megawatts of power capacity, with 3.9 megawatt-hours of electricity. A single Megapack unit can power approximately 3,600 homes for an hour.

The Megafactory is scheduled to begin production in early 2025, with production goals of 10,000 Megapack units per year.

Sustainable Energy and Megapack

One of Tesla's Megapacks
One of Tesla's Megapacks

Tesla’s mission is more than just producing self-driving cars – it’s to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As part of this mission, Megapack and grid-scale energy solutions are key to offset energy costs and carbon emissions when wind, solar, or hydro are at reduced capacities.

Megapack helps to maximize renewable energy use, minimize carbon use, and allow base-load capacities like nuclear power to maintain their output. Similar energy-storage solutions like pumped storage hydropower are expensive, require specific terrain features, and can take years to construct. Megapack units ship assembled, allowing for rapid installation with minimal complexity.

Lathrop vs Shanghai

Tesla’s fairly new facility in Lathrop, California is a mirror of the new facility being built in Shanghai. However, just like the differences between Fremont, Giga Texas, and Giga Shanghai, Mega Shanghai will likely incorporate new technologies to improve productivity. Additionally, it serves as a way to serve the energy market in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been at the forefront of energy development in the last decade.

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