Model 3 and Y to lose steering wheel stalks; gain touch-sensitive wheel a la Model S

By Nuno Cristovao
Tesla is expected to move the Model 3 and Model Y to a steering wheel with touch-sensitive buttons
Tesla is expected to move the Model 3 and Model Y to a steering wheel with touch-sensitive buttons
Tesla

According to Twitter user @ChrisZheng001, who has ties with the Tesla supply chain in China, the Model 3 and Model Y will be receiving a new steering wheel for the 2023 model year.

The new steering wheel will supposedly follow what has already been done with the new Model S; replacing the steering wheel stalks with touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel.

In a Model 3 or Model Y, the left stalk is mainly used for the vehicle's turn signals, but it can also be used to activate or flash the car's high beams. The button at the end of the stalk brings up the windshield wiper controls and wipes the windshield a single time.

As for the right stalk, it's used to shift gears, enable Autopilot and put the vehicle into park. The button can also be used to enable the vehicle's emergency brake by holding it down.

In the Model S, which the Model 3 and Model Y are likely to mimic, these functions are moved to the steering wheel and the touch screen.

The steering wheel will likely be similar to the one in the Model S. However, it'll likely be round since a major advantage of having a yoke steering wheel is to have a better view of the instrument cluster.

The upcoming steering wheel may be the one that's featured in the new Tesla Semi photos.

Like the Model S, the touch-sensitive buttons wrap around the outside of the scroll wheels on the steering wheel.

On the left side, you have the turn signals and high beam buttons, while on the right you have buttons for the windshield wipers and voice commands. On the Model 3, clicking the right scroll wheel starts a voice command, but in the Model S that's used to engage Autopilot.

There is also a button for the horn, however, unlike earlier versions of the Model S, the center of the steering wheel also functions as a horn.

Other functions that were previously available on the steering wheel stalks, such as shifting gears are moved to the center touch screen. 

Since the buttons and their designs are fixed, you can't customize these buttons nor can Tesla change them through software updates.

I'd love to have seen tiny OLED screens for these buttons, similar to the Optimus keyboard that has a tiny screen for each key. That would leave room for customization or change down the road, although it would come at a cost and introduce additional complexity. Two things Tesla tries hard to reduce.

Sonder keyboard with OLED screens
Sonder keyboard with OLED screens
diyphotography.net

In the summer of 2021, Elon Musk said that auto shift was coming to all Tesla models, so Tesla may have been planning this change for a while now.

It's not clear whether existing vehicles with steering wheel stalks will also gain the ability to swipe to shift, but it's possible since Tesla could use the existing steering wheel stalks as a backup solution if the touch screen isn't working.

The backup solution in the Model S and likely future Model 3s and Model Ys are touch-sensitive gear buttons that appear underneath the wireless phone charger if the touch screen becomes unresponsive.

This upcoming change may be unexpected, but it's not surprising, as Tesla often tries to reduce costs by simplifying designs and processes. Tesla also tries to reuse as many parts throughout their models as possible. While the Model S and Model X use a different steering wheel, it looks like the Semi may utilize the same steering wheel as the Model 3 and Model Y.

Elon to Switch to the Cybertruck; Volume Production in 2024

By Kevin Armstrong
Cybertruck mass production to start in 2024
Cybertruck mass production to start in 2024
Kim Java

Tesla's fourth quarter and 2022 earnings call with investors was mostly good news unless you were planning to drive a Cybertruck soon. While company executives eagerly jumped on every question asked by investors, there was a noticeable pause when a point-blank question was asked about Cybertruck's mid-year production date.

Elon Musk responded "um, we do expect production to start, I don't know, maybe sometime this summer. But I always like to try to downplay the start of production because the start of production is always very slow. It increases exponentially, but it's always very slow at first. So I wouldn't put too much thought in start of production."

Volume Production Next Year

If the millions of people with Cybertruck reservations were in attendance, you might have felt the air leave the room. The previous belief was mass production would start by the end of 2023. There may be some stainless-steel beauties on the road by then, but only a few. "It's kind of when does volume production actually happen, and that's next year," said Musk.

Perhaps sensing some disappointed buyers, Lars Moravy, Tesla's Vice President of Vehicle Engineering added, "(I'd) like just to emphasize on that, we've started installation of all the production equipment here in Giga Texas, castings, general assembly, body shops. We built all our beta vehicles, some more coming still in the next month, but as you said, the ramp will really come 2024."

The Cybertruck Will be Elon's Next Car

Cybertruck was originally announced in 2019 at the memorable event that included the unbreakable armor glass smashing. Musk was wearing the smashed glass Cybertruck t-shirt while taking questions from investors. While the wait continues, he is adamant that it will be worth it, "So it's an incredible product. I can't wait to drive it personally. It will be the car that I drive every day… it's just one of those products that only comes along once in a while, and it's really special."

The original release deadline was set for 2021. However, the production date has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, like a global pandemic. Nevertheless, it is a positive sign that beta vehicles have been produced. Images of what appears to be a Cybertruck were leaked a few months ago.

Recently, chief designer Franz von Holzhausen did confirm that the Cybertruck was ready for production, but it's a work in progress. Every Tesla beta product gets thoroughly examined and meticulously reviewed before the next step. But at least it's a step in the right direction.

A Look at Tesla's 2022 Numbers and Record Quarter

By Gabe Rodriguez Morrison
Tesla set new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations.
Tesla set new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations.
Statista

Tesla published their Q4 2022 and full-year financial results, setting new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations. Tesla’s annual profit rose to $12.6 billion in 2022, from $5.5 billion in 2021. Annual revenue rose to $81.5 billion, from $53.8 billion the year prior. Tesla reported fourth-quarter revenue of $24.32 billion beating analysts' $24.07 billion estimate. The automaker also reported earnings per share of $1.19 beating analysts' $1.12 estimate.

Tesla’s stock rose more than 5% in after-hours trading following the earnings release and surged more than 10% the next day.

Tesla's Q4 2022 revenue set a new record for the company, up 59% from a year earlier. In addition to automotive revenue of $21.3 billion, Tesla recognized $324 million of deferred revenue from the company’s driver assistance systems.

FSD Beta Numbers

Tesla reported that 90 million miles have now been driven with FSD Beta, up from 58 million miles in the previous quarter. The company also confirmed that they have about 400,000 FSD Beta users in North America, a sizeable increase since the last report. With such a steep increase in miles driven and FSD Beta becoming widely available in North America, Tesla is making significant progress with its autonomous driving software.

In late 2022 and into this year, Tesla began cutting prices on its cars globally. Elon spoke about how recent price cuts have fueled a surge in demand for Tesla: “Thus far in January we’ve seen the strongest orders year-to-date than ever in our history. We’re currently seeing orders of almost twice the rate of production.” He added: “These price changes really make a difference for the average consumer.” Tesla acknowledges that average sales prices have to decrease over time because affordability is part of Tesla's mission to grow into a company that sells multiple millions of cars annually.

Price cuts will impact profitability, but margins should remain healthy, Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn affirmed. Tesla has wider operating margins than the industry average, which allows them to make such price cuts.

Elon issued an uncertain forecast for 2023, saying Tesla planned on 1.8 million vehicles for the year without specifying whether that was a target for production or deliveries. If the company were to deliver 1.8 million vehicles in 2023, that would result in 37% annual growth.

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Take a look at features that Elon Musk has said will be coming soon.

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