Should Tesla Have Prioritized Its Next-Gen Vehicle 'Redwood' Over the Cybertruck?

By Kevin Armstrong
Cybertruck ahead of Next Gen?
Cybertruck ahead of Next Gen?
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Tesla should’ve prioritized the next-generation mass-market vehicle ahead of the Cybertruck. As a disclaimer, I’m certainly not saying I’m smarter than Elon Musk, and I most definitely have the advantage of hindsight. I will also make this argument while wearing my Cybertruck t-shirt and awaiting my delivery notification.

There is no doubt that Cybertruck is a vehicle destined for the history books; Tesla achieved what it set out to do, throwing out the old truck design and making the future look like the future. But would the future be a little kinder to Tesla now if it prioritized the next generation model, the less expensive $25,000 car, over the Cybertruck?

This decision is worth a debate among enthusiasts and critics, weighing the potential benefits and drawbacks of focusing on a niche, high-profile product over a vehicle that will allow more people to drive an EV. This editorial delves into the pros and cons of Tesla's approach, examining the implications for the company's future and the broader EV landscape.

Pros of Prioritizing Cybertruck

Market Differentiation and Branding: The Cybertruck, with its bold design and robust features, positions Tesla uniquely in the pickup truck market, a segment that has featured the same design and has been dominated by gas-powered vehicles. This move not only strengthens Tesla's brand as a leader in innovation but also attracts a new demographic of consumers who value distinctiveness and performance.

Cybertruck hits different in Matte Black
Cybertruck hits different in Matte Black

High-Profit Margins: Pickup trucks typically offer higher profit margins than smaller cars. By prioritizing the Cybertruck, Tesla can potentially boost its profitability, providing the financial flexibility needed to fund future projects, including developing and manufacturing the next-gen platform. This strategy has been Tesla’s game plan since the Roadster, which financed the development of the Model S, and the pattern repeated.

Early Advantage: Rivian and Ford held the electric pickup truck market alone until Tesla joined the party. Ford has since significantly reduced its production goals for the Lightning, and Rivian is struggling to produce at a rate that would compete with Tesla. Tesla can now set the standard for the sector as the company plans to deliver 250,000 a year and has over a million orders.

Cons of Delaying Next-Gen "Redwood"

Missed Opportunity for Mass Market Penetration: The next-gen that is rumored to have a codename of "Redwood" is anticipated to revolutionize not just vehicle design but, more significantly, the manufacturing process. Delaying its introduction until 2025 could mean missing the opportunity to lead the EV industry towards more accessible and affordable electric vehicles, potentially slowing the global transition to sustainable transportation. Remember, Cybertruck was first introduced in 2019.

Concept of the next generation car
Concept of the next generation car

Competition Catching Up: The delay allows competitors, especially those in China like BYD, to consolidate their position in the affordable EV segment. As these companies expand their global footprint, Tesla's first-mover advantage in the mass-market EV space could diminish. BYD has already overtaken Tesla in EV sales thanks largely to its affordable small, compact cars.

Potential Impact on Mission Alignment: Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy aligns more closely with making EVs accessible to the mass market. Prioritizing a high-end, niche product like the Cybertruck over a potentially revolutionary but more accessible vehicle could be a deviation from this mission.

Strategic Considerations

Innovation in Manufacturing: Elon Musk's emphasis on the revolutionary manufacturing system for Redwood suggests that Tesla is not merely delaying an affordable car but is rethinking the entire production paradigm. This could result in efficiencies and advancements that significantly lower the cost of EVs, making them more accessible on a global scale once the Redwood is introduced.

Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Goals: Tesla's strategy may balance achieving short-term financial and branding objectives with Cybertruck and laying the groundwork for long-term industry transformation with Redwood. The success of the Cybertruck could provide Tesla with the necessary resources and technological insights to support the ambitious goals of the next-gen vehicle.

Global Expansion and Market Readiness: The staggered focus allows Tesla to plan its global expansion strategically, ensuring markets are ready to introduce groundbreaking vehicles. By the time the Redwood is prepared for production, Tesla may have established a more substantial worldwide infrastructure and a more favorable regulatory and consumer environment for its adoption.

Tesla's decision to prioritize the Cybertruck over the next-gen car is a calculated risk that we can consider and debate—the company balanced market opportunities with long-term transformative potential. The success of this approach will depend on Tesla's ability to execute its ambitious plans for the Cybertruck while simultaneously advancing its revolutionary manufacturing processes. Ultimately, Tesla's strategies reflect a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities in leading the global transition to sustainable transportation.

Tesla Looks to Add New Full Self-Driving and Premium Connectivity Plans in Canada

By Kevin Armstrong
FSD subscription may be coming to Canada
FSD subscription may be coming to Canada

Tesla may soon support a monthly FSD subscription and the Premium Connectivity annual plan for Canadian customers. The possible move was discussed on X as Tesla’s Vice President of Public Policy and Business Development, Rohan Patel, responded to inquiries.

FSD Beta Subscription in Canada

The potential introduction of the FSD beta subscription in Canada represents a notable evolution in Tesla’s FSD pricing. The monthly subscription is available in the U.S. for $200 USD per month, this service allows Tesla owners to access the company’s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Considering currency exchange rates, this could translate to around $270 CAD monthly for Canadian consumers. This pricing strategy aims to make Tesla’s ADAS features more accessible, offering flexibility to subscribe or unsubscribe based on individual needs and circumstances, such as seasonal driving preferences. Currently, Canadian customers only have the option to buy FSD in full at $16,000 CAD.

While a subscription service for FSD Beta may allow more drivers to try out the technology, it will also assist Tesla in gathering more information and improving the system faster. The more miles clocked by FSD, the more the system learns.

Miles driven on FSD
Miles driven on FSD

Premium Connectivity Annual Plan

Alongside the FSD beta, Tesla is exploring the possibility of offering an annual subscription model for its Premium Connectivity service in Canada. Tesla started offering an annual subscription for Premium Connectivity in the US back in 2022 at $99.99, representing a 20% savings. Premium connectivity offers drivers additional features such as Live Traffic Visualization, Satellite-View Maps, and streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. The anticipated price for Canadian subscribers is set to be around $139.99 annually, offering a savings opportunity compared to the current monthly subscription rate of $13.99 CAD.

Patel's engagement on X highlights Tesla's proactive approach to addressing potential legal and regulatory barriers that might impede the introduction of these services in Canada. He committed to investigating these issues, underscoring Tesla's dedication to its Canadian customer base.

Strategic Investments and Enthusiastic Community

Tesla's plans for Canada go beyond just offering new subscription services. The company has made significant investments in manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain operations in the country.

Tesla FSD Beta v12 Auto Parks, Completes U-Turns, But Removes Traffic-Aware Cruise Control Ability

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla has released FSD Beta v12 to some customers
Tesla has released FSD Beta v12 to some customers

Tesla's FSD Beta version 12.2.1, update 2023.44.30.20, recently started going out to some owners, which resulted in more videos posted on X. There are several examples of amazing technology at work, but also evidence that more work is needed.

Ashok Elluswamy, Tesla's Director of Autopilot Software, recently highlighted the sophistication of FSD Beta v12 on X, emphasizing how the system's end-to-end approach is tackling complex driving scenarios with remarkable ease. His response came to a video of FSD maneuvering around a large puddle.

FSD V12 Does U-Turns

One of the standout features of FSD Beta v12 is its ability to execute U-turns seamlessly when required by the route. This is where real-world examples show the good and the bad of this highly advanced maneuver come into play. X user AI DRIVR, an account posting several high-quality videos of V12.2.1 in action, demonstrates a flawless U-turn.

Unfortunately, not all U-turns posted on X are as pretty; Randolph Kim has been experimenting with several scenarios. While later videos showed better behavior with u-turns and roundabouts, the earlier attempts had to be disengaged.

Parking Mode / First Glimpse at Park Seek

During our first glimpse of FSD v12 during Musk’s livestream, we noticed a new behavior when the vehicle reached its destination. Instead of just stopping, the vehicle now pulled over to the side of the road. However, it looks like the newest release goes one step further.

In a video by ArthurFromX, the vehicle is navigating to a parking lot. Not only does the vehicle successfully navigate to the parking lot, but it hunts around for a spot and then successfully parks without any additional instructions.

This could be our first glimpse at Tesla’s upcoming Park Seek feature that will eventually let the vehicle drop you off at the door and then go park itself.

Return of the Snapshot Button

Tesla appears to have reintroduced the Snapshot button in this update, at least to some owners. The snapshot button allows drivers to send additional information to Tesla regarding Autopilot's performance. This feature and the existing voice command feedback option provide Tesla with invaluable data to improve the FSD system further.

Automatic Speed Offset

Another noteworthy addition is the Automatic Set Speed Offset feature, which grants the vehicle autonomy to adjust its speed based on factors such as road type, traffic flow, and environmental conditions. The video below shows this feature in action. The feature is turned off by default and it currently only applies to street-level roads, but it’s a shift toward more human-like behavior for FSD Beta.

TACC is No Longer Accessible

Recently, Tesla revised the Autopilot activation method to avoid confusion and offered drivers two choices — a single pull of the stalk to enable FSD Beta or the traditional two taps. However, with FSD Beta v12, drivers are now required to use the single pull method to activate Autopilot.

Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) has traditionally been one pull of the stalk and Autopilot two pulls, but with the new single-pull method to activate Autopilot, TACC becomes unavailable. This hasn’t been a big deal until the release of FSD v12. With v12 Tesla is now requiring FSD Beta to use the single tap activation method.

This means that if a driver chooses to use FSD Beta, then TACC is no longer accessible. The only way to enable it is to go into Controls > Autopilot and turn off FSD Beta and instead choose Autosteer (or TACC). However, if you wish to enable FSD Beta again later, then it requires the vehicle to be in Park. Switching between Autosteer and FSD Beta isn’t practical for drivers. For those who rely on TACC, this issue could be a significant disadvantage in this release.

Update 2023.44.30.20

FSD 12.2.1
Installed on 0% of vehicles
0 Installs today
Last updated: Feb 25, 6:00 am

Several drivers have praised FSD Beta v12’s ability to navigate complex situations, better decision-making, and smoother behavior. However, as with any cutting-edge technology, there have been instances where the system's responses have room for improvement, highlighting the importance of its continued development.

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