Tesla to Remove Steering Wheel Nag in January 2023
Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla vehicles will no longer require the driver to apply force to the wheel while using FSD Beta. All Teslas currently require drivers to apply resistance to the wheel at certain intervals to confirm attentiveness. However, with the addition of the cabin camera in 2017, this requirement may soon go away.
Elon confirmed the change in response to a tweet from @WholeMarsBlog, who asked if users with more than 10,000 miles driven using FSD Beta software, could have the option to disable the tedious steering wheel nag.
Elon replied, "Agreed, update coming in Jan."
While using Autopilot, drivers are alerted to put their hands on the wheel after 30 to 70 seconds of not applying torque to the wheel. The amount of time varies depending on situations and models. If a driver fails to apply force after being alerted, Autopilot could be suspended for the remainder of the drive, or access to FSD Beta could be removed.
FSD Beta allows drivers to get up to five strikes before Tesla disables the feature for an extended period. For vehicles without a cabin camera, the number of strikes is limited to three.
It's still unclear what Elon meant by agreeing to the 'option to turn off steering wheel nag.' Tesla may be able to more accurately gauge hand tension in an upcoming update, or they may switch to using the vehicle's cabin camera. While many are expecting the use of the cabin camera to replace detecting tension on the steering wheel, Tesla may have simply improved the ability to detect hand tension. Tesla recently added the ability to detect defeat devices, so it's obvious they're making some improvements in that area.
If Tesla transitions to only using the cabin camera, this change would leave out Model S and Model X vehicles manufactured before 2021, since they don't contain a camera inside the vehicle.
If the nag is ultimately removed, this is a huge step forward for Autopilot and FSD Beta use, as it would truly offer a hands-free experience.
Since Autopilot was first introduced in 2014, it has relied on the application of force as a sign of driver attentiveness. Removing the nag would be a huge step forward for FSD Beta and the level of autonomy that self-driving Teslas can have.
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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.
Tesla set new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations.
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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