Tesla had it's Q3 earnings call and as usual there were some interesting tidbits to come out of this call outside of Tesla's financial information.
Tesla's current goal is to manufacture over a million vehicles in a given year. Toward the end of Q3 they reached an annualized production rate that exceeded 1 million. If Tesla can continue the trend then they will be able to achieve their goal of a million vehicles produced in a year. This does not account for its Texas and Berlin Giga factories which will only help increase their manufacturing rates.
The goal is to get Tesla producing millions of vehicles per year with the addition of Texas and Berlin Giga factories and longer-term Tesla's goal is to produce 20 million vehicles yearly.
The new Model X has started production and is ramping up.
4680 Cell Batteries
The future for Tesla is its 4680 structural battery packs. Tesla said that they're testing the batteries and aim to have testing completed this year, although there could be some unknowns. Tesla expects to have the first vehicles with 4680 batteries early next year.
This is great news for Tesla as the 4680 cells offer improved battery density and other efficiencies while also reducing the weight of the vehicle. Having 4680 cells available early next year is a pleasant surprise as most were not expecting Tesla to be as far along as they are regarding these batteries.
Tesla is not looking to add any new vehicles to their production lines right now. There is a large Tesla backlog that is continuing to grow so the focus right now is on manufacturing current vehicles and meeting demand. The next vehicles produced will be the Cybertruck, new Roadster and the Tesla Semi.
Best Selling Vehicles
Tesla announced that the Model 3 is currently the best selling premium sedan worldwide. The Model Y is poised to be the best selling vehicle in the world.
Texas and Berlin Giga Factories
Tesla's new factories are nearing completion. They are close to starting production of vehicles.
Although the first produced vehicles for these factories will be this year, we should not expect any deliveries from these new factories until 2022.
The hardest work is ahead and ramping these factories up to 5k and then 10k vehicles. They will start off by producing current vehicles and Texas Gigafactory will then add on the Cybertruck.
Both Texas and Giga factories were built to have room to expand.
Safety Score and Tesla Insurance
The Safety Score started off as a way to produce insurance in California. Tesla has found that providing their own insurance based on actual driver metrics is a great way to lower the overall cost of a Tesla.
Tesla introduced Tesla Insurance into Texas and is seeing good growth there. Their goal is to offer Tesla Insurance in every market that Tesla sells in. It'll be a slow process since each state needs to be approved individually.
The Safety Score has been working really well and it's something Tesla wants to continue developing and improving.
There are 150,000 cars that are using Safety Score right now for the FSD Beta. They have racked up 100 million miles of driving already in the last month.
Tesla is also noticing huge decreases in the probability of an accident. A customer who uses the Safety Score has a 30% lower chance of being involved in an accident.
Tesla continues to view Superchargers as a necessity and will continue to rapidly expand them. The Supercharging network has doubled in the last 18 months and Tesla plans to triple it over the next couple of years.
Sometimes stations can become clogged but Tesla is actively working on improving congestions beyond just increasing the amount of chargers available.
Tesla vehicles are becoming smarter when choosing where and when to charge. When your car chooses to stop at a Supercharger in order for you to get to your destination, it will now take into account the real time usage of nearby Superchargers so that it can navigate you to one with lower usage.
Tesla has also been rolling out updates to reduce the amount of time each car needs to spend at a Supercharger. This includes warming up the batteries when you're on-route to a Supercharger which will let you charge faster than if your battery was colder.
The car is also better at determining exactly how much you need to charge before you can reach your destination which reduces customer wait time and congestion of the Supercharger as well.
Tesla continues to roll out more v3, 250Kw chargers. These chargers when coupled with some of Tesla's newest batteries allow much faster charging, allowing cars to spend last time at Superchargers.
Tesla says that it's still early to tell how well their FSD subscription is doing but they have not noticed a decrease in the buy rate for the FSD package as that remains a better value.
However they have noticed that more owners are willing to try out FSD by buying a subscription, which introduces them to what is available with FSD.
As Tesla's FSD matures and the FSD beta comes more widely available, Tesla expects additional revenue to come from the FSD subscription.
Ability to Transfer FSD to Another Vehicle
Tesla does not plan to offer this, but what they did say is that if you trade your car to Tesla they will give you more for a car that has FSD when compared to one that doesn't. That value can then be applied to a new Tesla.
Tesla is viewing this as a sort of transfer of FSD since you won't lose everything you paid for and could use that additional value to be applied to the next vehicle's FSD package.
The Cybertruck is on track to launch late next year. There are various alpha trucks being tested now with various features. Tesla mentioned that the alphas have been spotted on social media. The Cybertruck we saw recently with side mirrors and slight modifications appears to be one of these alphas.
Tesla confirmed again that the Cybertruck will have rear steering. Tesla is testing these various alphas to mature the design of the truck. There are a number of smaller or less visible improvements that have been made to the truck.
Why Service is Slow
Tesla is aware that service has been bogged down and slower than normal. They attribute this to the sudden return to normalcy, where demand for service has increased due to many customers holding off on services during the pandemic. Parts are sometimes slower to get as well due to the global shortage.
Tesla expects both of these issues to clear up over time.
They reiterated that the best service is no service. Tesla continues to increase build quality and provide pre-emptive warnings for service so that customers have a sudden need for service. For example, the car will let you know if your 12-volt battery is providing lower voltages than expected so that you can have it looked at before it becomes critical.
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Ganesh Venkataramanan, Tesla’s project lead for its ambitious Dojo supercomputer project for the past five years, has left the company. Bloomberg reported this development, stating that the news was confirmed by sources familiar with the matter. Peter Bannon, a former executive at Apple Inc. and a director at Tesla for the last seven years, has now taken the helm of the project.
Venkataramanan's departure from Tesla last month is now stirring conversations about the potential impacts on Tesla's future initiatives. His contributions to the Dojo project have been pivotal, especially in designing the custom D1 chip that powers the supercomputer. Venkataramanan, with his extensive experience, including a significant tenure at Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), was a crucial asset in setting up Tesla’s AI hardware and silicon teams in 2016.
Dojo: A Cornerstone for Tesla’s Self-Driving Aspirations
The Dojo supercomputer is a critical element of Tesla's strategy to enhance its self-driving capabilities. Designed to train machine learning models integral to Tesla's autonomous systems, Dojo processes vast amounts of data captured by Tesla vehicles. This rapid data processing is essential for improving the company’s algorithms, with analysts suggesting that Dojo could be a significant competitive advantage for Tesla. In a recent estimation by Morgan Stanley, the project could potentially add $500 billion to Tesla’s value.
Elon Musk has been vocal about the company's commitment to the Dojo project, planning an investment exceeding $1 billion by the end of 2024. The project's importance was underscored in Tesla's decision to shift from relying on Nvidia Corp.’s supercomputers to developing Dojo, poised to rival systems from Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and IBM.
Looking Ahead: Impact and Future Prospects
The recent leadership changes raise questions about the future direction of the Dojo project. Venkataramanan's exit, coupled with the departure of another critical artificial intelligence player from Tesla last year, Andrej Karpathy, signals a transition period for the company’s AI and self-driving teams.
However, Tesla's robust talent pool, blending experienced and emerging professionals, offers a silver lining. Bannon's promotion to lead the Dojo project is seen as a strategic move, leveraging his experience and insights gained from his tenure at Apple. Moreover, the recent installation of Dojo hardware in Palo Alto, California, marks a step forward in centralizing and enhancing the project’s capabilities.
Tesla’s ambitions for Dojo extend to making it one of the world’s top supercomputers. The company envisions reaching a computational capability of 100 exaflops* by October 2024, a testament to its commitment to advancing artificial intelligence and self-driving technology.
* Confused about "exaflops?" "Flops" stands for Floating Point Operations Per Second. It's a way to measure how fast a computer can process data. "Exa" means a billion billion, or 1, followed by 18 zeros (1,000,000,000,000,000,000). So, when we say a computer can perform 100 exaflops, it can do 100 billion billion calculations per second. That's incredibly fast!
Tesla is adding a new 'High Fidelity Park Assist' feature in this year's Holiday Update
Following initial reactions to Tesla's 2023 Holiday Update, Elon Musk acknowledged the need for improvement, stating, "We need to step up our game." His post on X was followed by Tesla shedding more light on the Holiday Update than what was in the initial leak.
Call me old, but I remember a time when you bought a car, and that was it; the dealer and manufacturer didn’t give you anything else. So is the Tesla community acting a little bit spoiled here? Absolutely. But it also shows how high Tesla has set the bar with its previous Holiday Updates.
Initial Release and Feedback
The initial release of the 2023 Holiday Update, version 2023.44.25, received mixed reactions from the Tesla community, with some owners expressing disappointment over the lack of groundbreaking new features. But the newly announced features may serve as better stocking stuffers.
The initial rollout included something owners have been asking for, the blind spot monitor. The camera that turns on when you change lanes will now have a red color added if there is something in your blind spot. It’s not clear whether it will be accompanied by a tone.
Tesla’s blind spot warning in this year’s holiday update
Here are other features in the leaked update that are being tested by employees:
Navigation and Safety Features: Including symbols for speed cameras, stop signs, and traffic lights in navigation, and the automatic 911 call feature in case of an accident.
Trip Planning via Tesla Mobile App: Allowing for more detailed trip planning, including multiple stops and charging points.
Apple Podcasts Integration: Allowing users to sync with Apple devices for a seamless podcast experience, directly addressing the demand for a richer in-car entertainment system.
New Games and Enhancements: The update brought updates to Tesla Arcade, with Beach Buggy Racing and Polytopia Diplomacy updates, as well as the Vampire Survivors Chilling update.
Light Show Improvements: There’s a new light show that’s included with your vehicle. You’ll also be able to upload several light shows on a single USB drive and pick one from the vehicle, instead of having to use multiple USB drives, one for each light show.
More Live Sentry Mode Cameras: You will now be able to view the B-pillar cameras directly from the Tesla app. This brings the number of viewable cameras in the app up to seven. The only ones still missing are the alternative front-facing cameras that are telephoto and wide-angle, which wouldn’t bring much additional value. Although the B-pillars are viewable in the app with this update, they will still not be used to record during Dashcam or Sentry Mode events.
High-Fidelity Park Assist
Tesla's new parking assist feature will dynamically recreate scenes in real-time
In response to the feedback and Musk's statement, Tesla unveiled additional features in its updated holiday update, including an improved park assist with enhanced visualizations.
This feature provides a 3D reconstruction of the vehicle's surroundings while parking, akin to a 360-degree camera system found in other high-end vehicles. The system is clearly leveraging improvements to Tesla Vision to create the surrounding environment, such as cars, pillars and walls.
This feature also appears to change the color of objects depending on how close they are to your vehicle. In the image we can see the pillars are orange, but if we look closer, the object behind the vehicle is also orange near the bottom. The sides of the vehicles next to the Tesla also have a slight hint of orange, indicating their proximity.
However, it looks like this feature may be even better than it initially looks. The vehicles in the image aren’t just predefined 3D models that Tesla created, like the ones used in Autopilot visualizations. These models appear to be dynamically created using vision, so that no two cars would look alike, much more similar to what LiDar is able to achieve. The visualization provides a true representation of the environment around the vehicle. You can see that each vehicle is made up from layers and have blurred edges toward the rear, where the camera would have a hard time seeing.
These 3D models could be a sneak peek at the future of FSD visualizations.
High-Fidelity Park Assist Requirements
A big question on everyone’s mind is who will receive this new park assist feature. Tesla didn’t address this in their post on X besides providing a disclaimer that the features in the holiday release are subject to model and region availability. Tesla often likes to test features in select markets before making them available everywhere. It’s hard to say whether that will be the case here. There likely aren’t any legal ramifications around providing visualizations, so that’s a good sign that this feature will be available in most regions, either in the holiday update, or soon afterward.
However, there are still questions around which models or hardware will be required. From the image shared, we can see it’s offered on a Model Y, removing any speculation of it possibly requiring the HD radar in the new Model S/X. We also don’t think it will require FSD hardware 4.0, so the remaining questions are whether it requires MCU 3, or the FSD package.
Given that Tesla is calling this Park Assist, it doesn’t appear to be linked to Auto Park, which is a FSD package feature. When Tesla rolled out visual and audio alerts for vehicles without ultrasonic sensors, it called the feature Park Assist, and that was available to all owners.
Whether this improved Park Assist feature requires a vehicle with MCU 3 will depend on the level of processing power required. It’ll certainly require more than the current visualizations given that its building the scene in real-time, so we’re hopeful that it’ll work on MCU 2 vehicles too, but we just don’t have enough information right now to make the call.
Custom Lock Sounds
Soon you'll be able to choose a custom locking sound for your car
Not a Tesla App
Tesla also announced a fun and whimsical feature that allows owners to customize the lock sound of their Tesla. No longer will you need to listen to the car’s horn when it locks as you walk away. Now you’ll be able to customize the lock sound of the vehicle. Tesla is including several options, including sounds like a screaming goat, a jingle, a rubber ducky, a quack sound, an old school horn and applause. However, you’ll also be able to upload your own file to create a truly unique experience.
You can pick anything, from a bird’s tweet to a favorite video game sound. You’ll only be limited by the maximum upload file size, which according to a Tesla engineer, is a 1MB file in WAV format, which is roughly about 40 seconds at good quality.
This feature is possible due to the vehicle’s external pedestrian warning speaker. So if you have Tesla’s Boombox feature or your vehicle makes a sound when traveling under 20 MPH, then you should receive this fun enhancement.
Rear Seat Audio and Gaming
You'll now be able to play games on Tesla's rear screens
Enhancing the Tesla Arcade experience, passengers in the rear seats can now play games on the rear touchscreen. This feature, especially when paired with Tesla Arcade’s compatibility with PS4, PS5, Xbox Controllers, and rear-screen Bluetooth Headsets, is a welcome addition for families and long trips.
Much like the new Model 3, which received rear audio over Bluetooth support in the 2023.38 update, the new Model S and Model X will also receive this ability in the holiday update.
New Game - Castle Doombad
Tesla announced one other feature in the 2023 holiday update that hadn’t been previously leaked, and that’s a new game called Castle Doombad. Castle Doombad is a single player tower defense, puzzle-like game that’s currently available on iOS and Android, but has an upcoming release on PC and the Nintendo Switch. This game is expected to require MCU 3.
The rollout of the 2023 Holiday Update is expected to follow a similar timeline to last year. Tesla announced that the update will roll out starting next week. However, it’s not clear whether this will also include FSD Beta testers that are on a 2023.27 update.
Like a spoiled child on Christmas morning, Tesla owners still ask, “Is that it?” Well… possibly, but there may be more to look forward to early next year as Tesla builds off of the new High-Fidelity Park Assist feature.
Advanced Smart Summon: Upgrading the Smart Summon feature to be more intuitive and efficient, especially in complex parking scenarios.
Reverse Summon / Park Seek: What happened to Tesla dropping its passengers and driver off at the location and then finding a parking spot on its own?
Enhanced FSD Visualizations: Expanding the Full Self-Driving visualizations to more regions or models or completely recreating the FSD visualizations using the same neural networks Tesla is using for the High-Fidelity Park Assist feature.
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Tesla Android Project enables you to run Android apps in your Tesla. The platform is Open Source and you can deploy it on your own Raspberry Pi 4. Consider supporting the initiative by donating or purchasing the Compute Module 4 Bundle that delivers the best experience. Get $20 off by using the code: NotATeslaApp
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