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
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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
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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 Introduces Most Affordable Car: Long Range RWD Model 3 with 363-Mile Range for $34,990

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla has brought back the Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive variant, which starts at $42,490. However, due to the batteries in the Long Range model, it qualifies for the $7,500 federal EV rebate. This makes this new model the cheapest model in Tesla’s lineup after the federal rebate that comes off at the point of sale.

After the federal rebate, this model is $34,990, exactly $4,000 less than the standard RWD model with the smaller LFP battery.

Improved Range

The Long Range RWD variant boasts a range of 363mi (vs 341mi for the AWD, and 272mi for the regular RWD), and a 0-60mph of 4.9sec (vs 4.2sec for the AWD). This makes the new Long Range RWD Model 3 Tesla’s longest-range economic vehicle (Model 3 / Model Y). The Model S AWD boasts an impressive 402-mile EPA estimate.

Other than the lack of a front motor for handling in rough or slippery terrain, or having a faster 0-60, the Long Range RWD is a fantastic option for most people.

It’s worth noting that only the Long Range AWD model can unlock Tesla’s Acceleration Boost, which increases power and reduces the vehicle’s 0-60 times by about half a second.

Model

Price

Price After Rebate

0-60 MPH

Range

Model 3 RWD

$38,990

-

5.8s

272mi

Model 3 LR RWD

$42,490

$34,990

4.9s

363mi

Model 3 LR AWD

$47,490

$39,990

4.2s

341mi

Model 3 Performance

$54,990

$47,490

2.9s

303mi

Availability

For now, the Model 3 Long Range RWD model is only available in the United States, with no availability in Canada.

Tesla FSD V12.5 to Combine City and Highway Stacks, Introduce Vehicle-to-Fleet Communication and More

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

As FSD V12.4.3 continues to get released to more vehicles, Elon Musk has posted that FSD V12.5 is already in testing and will include several key features.

The improvements in v12.5 are supposed to focus on rarer, more complex situations and vehicle-to-fleet communication. Tesla’s Autopilot lead, Ashok Elluswamy, also mentioned that FSD would gain the ability to go in reverse around this time.

Merge City & Highway Stacks

FSD v12 has been a multi-stack setup so far, with a city-streets stack that is end-to-end, and an older highway stack that was carried over from v11. FSD v12.5 will once again merge the city/highway stacks according to Musk, who confirmed the feature yesterday. That means that there will no longer be an implicit highway stack.

This could cause some regressions during highway driving, similar to the ones we experienced when Tesla first merged highway and city stacks back in FSD v11. Ultimately, when the issues were ironed out, we ended up with a smoother and better Autopilot experience on the highway. When FSD v12.5 rolls around, we may see some similar issues but expect FSD v12.5 to do to highways what v12 did for city driving.

Vehicle-to-Fleet Communications

Tesla’s FSD relies heavily upon maps, with the mapping information designating routing and lane changes. When vehicles encounter difficulties, they are unable to communicate that back to the rest of the fleet. This results in every vehicle encountering the same problem. With FSD V12.5, vehicles will be able to communicate road closures or other obstacles back to the rest of the fleet in real-time. This will turn FSD into software that’s constantly improving as the fleet gathers more data, instead of having to wait for a software update.

Cybertruck Finally Gets FSD

In a recent post on X, Musk also confirmed that V12.5 will finally bring FSD to the Cybertruck. Currently, all Cybertrucks only have access to Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC). Autopilot and FSD capabilities should arrive alongside all the other features.

Actually Smart Summon

Musk has talked quite a bit about Actually Smart Summon. With FSD 12.5, the new vision-based summon may finally be released. This will introduce Smart Summon capabilities to vision-only cars for the first time. However, it’s expected to be a drastic improvement for all vehicles in similar ways to the new Autopark. The new summon has been tied to the ability to move the vehicle in reverse by Tesla’s Autopilot lead, so expect either both of them to arrive in FSD 12.5, or be held off for a later release.

Release Date

Musk originally mentioned that FSD V12.5 would be released in late June, however, there were several delays with FSD 12.4 and that time frame has now come and gone. FSD 12.4 was initially released in May 2024, but it went through several lengthy revisions before it was introduced to public testers. Going by that time frame, it appears that FSD 12.5 was expected to be released about 4-6 weeks after FSD 12.4. If FSD 12.4.3 is finally got a good spot, we could see FSD 12.5 become available in the next 4-6 weeks or about late August.

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