Everything we know about the Tesla 'Model 2'

By Gabe Rodriguez Morrison
Tesla's working on a $25k vehicle
Tesla's working on a $25k vehicle
TopElectric/YouTube

The Tesla Model 2 aims to make electric vehicle ownership more affordable. Tesla probably won't use the name "Model 2" because it implies a smaller version of the Model 3 when it will really be a more economic version. Tesla's target is a $25k car, but the Model 3 was also supposed to be $35k but ended up being more expensive. The Model 3 currently sits at just under $47k in the US.

When Tesla created the Model 3, they essentially built a scaled-down, more efficient version of the Model S by removing features that were more expensive or hard to manufacture. Many of the switches, vents, and features were either simplified or completely removed, including the instrument cluster.

This includes replacing physical controls with on screen controls, like the handle for the glove box, mirror adjustment buttons, windshield wiper controls and many others.

Other controls were simplified to reduce complexity and therefore cost. Some examples include the simplified vent system and steering wheel buttons. The interior and exterior door handles were also redesigned to reduce the amount of moving parts.

Back in 2016 when the Model 3 was unveiled it wasn’t entirely clear which features were cost-cutting measures and which were feature iterations and would become standard in all future Teslas.

When Tesla debuted the new Model S in 2021 it became clearer which features may have been cost-cutting measures. We saw a lot of Model 3 features carry over to the redesigned Model S, such as a horizontal center screen, one continuous vent with on screen controls, but not every feature made it over.

These were seen as the compromises Tesla made to create a vehicle that is cheaper to manufacture when compared to the Model S.

The Model 3 doesn't have an air suspension, cooled seats, a rear screen, or an instrument cluster. It also has a slightly smaller center screen. So what more can Tesla remove or simplify from a Model 3 to create a more affordable, scaled-down vehicle?

Tesla would likely keep all software-only features since they don’t add much to the cost of the vehicle. Some possibilities may include fewer speakers, removing heated seats in the rear, removal of wireless chargers, and removal of the glass roof. Removing any cameras or the FSD computer is unlikely since the FSD package is profitable for Tesla and there are also safety features that depend on that hardware.

It’s possible that Tesla's Model 2 has transformed into the supposed Robotaxi mentioned at the Giga Rodeo Event. Elon has previously talked about creating a car without steering wheels or pedals, which would be fitting for a fully autonomous vehicle.

At Battery Day, Tesla said that standard range vehicles and future models will use lithium iron phosphate batteries. LFP batteries are cheaper to produce and have some advantages and disadvantages when compared to nickel batteries. Tesla would likely use the 4680 LFP battery for the Model 2. This would make the vehicle smaller and lighter, but may also offer less range.

Tesla's 4680 battery
Tesla's 4680 battery

Tesla’s 4680 cell is named after its dimension, 46mm x 80mm. They are much cheaper to manufacture, producing 5x more energy, 16% more range, and 6x more power, making them far more economic than traditional batteries. Using 4680 batteries, the Model 2 is expected to have a travel range of 250 to 300 miles.

Tesla will use a structural 4680 cell pack in a single body cast to manufacture the Model 2 as efficiently as possible. This along with advanced robotics will help Tesla achieve economies of scale and mass-manufacture their most affordable car yet.

In May 2022, during the Financial Times 'Future of the Car' interview (video), Elon stated that there is some probability that Tesla would make a car smaller than the Model 3, leaving the possibility open for both, a smaller Model 3 and a Tesla Robotaxi.

Don't expect the “Model 2” anytime soon, Elon has talked about Tesla finishing the CyberTruck this year and starting production in 2023. Tesla also has the Roadster and Semi to produce, which are very likely to be ahead of the Model 2.

By that time, we may see drastic improvements in FSD that could warrant a fully autonomous Robotaxi. I wouldn't expect the Model 2 before 2024 at very best, but we could see prototypes before then.

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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