Elon Musk hints at a configurable Tesla van with a solar canopy. Could this be the Robotaxi?

By Lennon Cihak
A Tesla Robovan concept by DogeDesigner
A Tesla Robovan concept by DogeDesigner

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to hint at Tesla making a "highly configurable Robovan for people and cargo."

Musk didn’t share any details, but he did engage in conversation and speculate with respondents.

DogeDesigner responded to Musk’s tweet with some concept art they designed, stating, “A Tesla Robovan will be lit.”

To which Musk responded, “Not bad! It is high time that the future looked like the future. Same goes for fashion.”

Shibetoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Dogecoin, chimed in, “duuude. that would be the coolest thing to take on a camping / glamping trip ~”

Musk added fuel to the speculation by responding with, “Maybe with an optional solar power canopy that extends both sides of the van, tripling roof area.”

Many Tesla customers have been patiently waiting for updates on the highly anticipated Roadster and the Tesla Semi, so Tesla certainly has enough to keep them busy.

Customers are also eager for the Cybertruck which has is set to enter production in 2023.

Musk stated in an interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley that it will begin Cybertruck production around the middle of 2023. Musk also added that the design has been finalized.

Tesla has received 1 million+ reservations for the highly anticipated Cybertruck. The ongoing chip shortage that Tesla is faced with is putting immense pressure on the automaker, as well as many other manufacturers.

In addition to the Roadster and Cybertruck, Musk is also adding a humanoid robot to the mix. Tesla certainly has a lot of moving pieces right now, so if Tesla is seriously about a configurable van, it may be a while before we see a prototype version.

Unless of course if Tesla's Robotaxi is the configurable Robovan? It's anyone's guess at this point, but there are certainly some interesting possibilities.

Elon hints a configurable van design
Elon hints a configurable van design

Tesla's Supercharger Team Shakeup: Firings, Rehiring, and Future Prospects

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently fired the entire Supercharger team, including Tesla’s head of charging – Rebecca Tinucci, after she pushed back on the extreme layoffs that took place right before the cut.

The Supercharger team consisted of over 500 employees, at least after the initial layoffs. In the following days and weeks, Tesla began to rehire some of the employees that it had fired.

Some Damage Done

In the immediate aftermath of the firing of the Supercharger team, contractors and site planners were left bewildered, with no contact from the Supercharger team that was responsible for payment, planning, and decision-making.

As this has played out, new Supercharger deployments have been reduced – stations that were already being built are being completed, but no new announcements have been made since t

It was dire news at the time - but it isn’t all bad.

Returning Employees

Now, more and more of the employees that were fired are beginning to return to Tesla, some of whom are announcing that they were asked to return to Tesla in their previous capacities.

George Bahadue, Senior Manager of Site Acquisition and Business Development commented on LinkedIn:

“Two weeks ago, I was asked to return to Tesla in my previous capacity heading up the business development and site acquisition for Tesla charging – I accepted.”

His reasoning to accept the position was a quote from Rebecca Tinucci:

“You work at Tesla because you hope to have at least a small impact on our collective future – aspirationally, to leave the world better for our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren – by accelerating the transition to sustainable energy. And that mission is too important to allow any distractions.”

New Stations Could be Coming Soon

With the restaffing of the Supercharger team, especially with the return of George Bahadue, we can expect that new Supercharger sites may be announced in the coming weeks, as the ripple effect from the layoffs begins to settle.

The rehiring of experienced staff suggests that Tesla and Elon Musk are still committed to the vision of maintaining and expanding its Supercharger network – the largest and most reliable charging network in North America, which is crucial for the mission to move the world to renewable energy.

Tesla Cuts Model Y Output in China – Economic Slowdown and Anticipated Project Juniper Launch

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently cut Model Y output in China, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), Tesla’s production of the Model Y in China experienced a decline of approximately 18% in March, and 33% in April, versus the same time last year.

Output Cuts

These output cuts can be attributed to Tesla’s recent decision to reduce production of the Model Y at Giga Shanghai by at least 20% from March to June 2024. This was attributed to an unnamed Spokesperson by Reuters last week.

This decision could be multifaceted – the primary reason being an economic slowdown in China as price wars continue to be waged between EV manufacturers, including Tesla. On the flipside, Tesla has continued its production of the updated 2024 Model 3, colloquially referred to as the Highland, with an increase of 10%.

Project Juniper?

The second reason for this slowdown could be the incoming arrival of the Model Y refresh – also known as Project Juniper. Tesla China has already introduced an updated Model Y with a unique cloth dash with similar ambient lighting as the Model 3.

The Model 3 Highland was also introduced in China before its introduction to other markets, including North America and Europe.

Juniper Upgrade Speculation

Not much has been seen about Project Juniper at this time, but we can expect a similar suite of upgrades that match the updated 2024 Model 3 Highland – including a new front fascia design, updated doors and dynamics, steering updates, improved control arms, ambient lighting, new seats, and improved range.

There is a continued expectation that Tesla is pushing back its Model Y refresh – its best-selling vehicle – to make a bigger splash. This could include newer features – like the Cybertruck’s Steer-by-Wire, front camera, or other upgrades and changes – like the lack of stalks on the rest of the Tesla line-up.

Tesla previously confirmed we’re not seeing the Juniper Y this year, this could be the time needed to retool and upgrade lines to prepare for its introduction sometime next year.

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