Supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic have been particularly challenging for the automotive sector. A global chip shortage among an onslaught of supply chain obstacles have adversely affected the entire industry. Tesla's vertically integrated strategy proved to be very advantageous when facing these supply chain challenges.
Tesla's insistence on vertical integration used to be one of the main reasons the company struggled to become profitable and reach volume production. Now, it has allowed the company to scale rapidly while the broader automotive industry is down amidst a supply chain disaster.
The conventional automotive business model has traditionally concentrated on design and final assembly while largely outsourcing to suppliers. This strategy left them extremely vulnerable to supply chain turmoil.
In the past, automakers outsourced as much as possible and mainly focused on supply chain management. In the short term, this strategy reduced production costs but in the long term, legacy automakers lost the ability to adapt, innovate and advance technology.
Automotive manufacturing has typically relied on third party suppliers which has led to supply chain contingency and reliance on external companies. This business model has been successful for a long time due to the maturity of the internal combustion engine and a lack of need for innovation.
Tesla recognized the stagnant supply chain of the automotive industry and revolutionized it by adopting a vertically integrated strategy.
Tesla is a chain of startups
- Elon Musk
In recent years, Tesla has defied the conventional business model, reducing supply chain needs and reliance on other companies.
Tesla has vertically integrated many production steps, from battery production to electric powertrain production and self-driving software. According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Tesla is a "chain of startups."
This strategy allowed Tesla to avoid shortages of batteries, which have hindered legacy automakers from reaching volume production of electric cars. Before legacy automakers began investing in electric vehicle manufacturing, Tesla partnered with Panasonic to build its first gigafactory to produce batteries. Now, the gigafactory ensures a reliable supply of batteries.
Lucid Motors, a newer EV automaker, has also adopted a more vertically integrated business model. CEO Peter Rawlinson says that gives them a huge advantage in the modern EV technology race.
In an interview, Rawlinson stated, “The electric powertrain cannot be bought off the shelf at a world-class standard, it is not a commodity. This is a technology race and the market doesn’t see it yet."
Tesla's in-house software development is perhaps their biggest advantage over its competitors. As a Silicon Valley born company, Tesla has never outsourced their software. They have instead developed a proprietary self-driving software that is improved by collecting data from Tesla's network of over one million beta testers.
Ford CEO Jim Farley emphasized the company's need to move away from the “catalog engineering” business model at a conference earlier this year, saying "The most important thing is we vertically integrate."
Tesla is potentially going a step further to vertically integrate their supply chain. In light of the skyrocketing prices of lithium, Tesla may plan to get into the lithium mining and refining business. Tesla is considering mining some of its own raw materials for the same reasons that they developed their own batteries, produced their own electric motors and built their own computer chip and software for autonomous driving.
Tesla's pace of innovation and lead in the industry has become clear as the traditional business model of outsourcing components and software to cut production costs is quickly becoming outdated.
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Uber now has access to Tesla vehicle data that allows it to limit trips within range
In a monumental move towards the future of ridesharing, Tesla and Uber have unveiled a new feature — a range-based trip planner. This integration allows Tesla drivers to connect their vehicles to the Uber app and schedule rides based on the remaining battery charge of their electric vehicles. This innovation is set to redefine the experience of both drivers and passengers in the ridesharing space.
Bridging Tesla and Uber: The New Age of Ridesharing
First observed by Tesla enthusiast and former Uber driver Sofiaan, this range-based planner enables Tesla owners to accept rides in the Uber app based on their vehicle's current charge. The feature is activated only when users permit it, and once enabled, it assigns rides that can be comfortably completed with the existing battery level, leaving a small buffer to reach a Supercharger.
While introducing this feature marks an exciting leap in integrating electric vehicles into the ridesharing world, it has raised some eyebrows over privacy and data concerns. The new feature requires drivers to allow Uber access to their vehicle's data through the Tesla API. While it may cause some apprehension, this innovation is a significant aid for drivers who may be unsure about their Tesla's range or those experiencing range anxiety.
The Driver's Perspective: The Challenge of Balancing Charge and Availability
Driving for Uber or Lyft with an EV can be challenging. Rideshare drivers need to balance the need to recharge their vehicles with the necessity to remain available for passenger pick-ups. This new range-based planner alleviates some of this stress by intelligently allocating rides based on the remaining battery life. Such a feature could be particularly advantageous for those operating in areas with limited fast-charging infrastructure.
This range-based planner promises to improve the rideshare experience for Tesla drivers. With it, drivers will only be offered rides they can complete with their existing charge. This eliminates the dilemma of declining rides due to insufficient battery life, which could result in a penalty from Uber.
Ridesharing and the Future of Autonomous Vehicles
As we look toward the future, this development prompts larger questions about the ridesharing landscape and the advent of autonomous vehicles. Companies like Tesla, Uber, and Lyft, along with emerging players such as Waymo, Cruise, and Ford's new autonomy division, continue to innovate and compete. With the ongoing shifts towards electric and autonomous vehicles, these new technologies and collaborations will play an essential role in shaping the future of transportation.
This initiative by Tesla and Uber is a vital step toward integrating electric vehicles into the mainstream. As we anticipate the further transformation of ridesharing services, one thing remains clear — the ride toward green transportation is accelerating, and Tesla and Uber are at the forefront of this revolution.
Tesla is introducing the ability to track your tire mileage in update 2023.20
Preparations are underway for Tesla's next software update, version 2023.20. Although currently in testing, this update has been drawing attention since it was first noticed last week. Considering Tesla's 2023.12 update brought numerous new features, it appears this next may be smaller. However, we now have our first look at some of the features included in Tesla's 2023.20 update.
Ability to Track Tire Mileage
A noteworthy improvement under the upcoming update pertains to tire service tracking. Post-update, vehicle owners can track how many miles have been driven since their last tire service. This feature can prove valuable for monitoring mileage since your last tire rotation, changing to new tires, or switching between season-specific tires.
You or your service center will need to manually reset the counter each time your tires are serviced. You can view the mileage traveled or reset your counter by navigating to Controls > Service.
The official release notes state:
Go to Controls > Service to see how many miles it's been since your last tire service.
When you get your tires rotated, replaced, or swapped, tap 'Reset' to reset the counter.
Furthering Global Reach: Text Size Adjustment
Another feature gaining more ground is text size adjustment. While 'Text Size' was introduced in the 2023.12 update, the ability to adjust the size of the text in the vehicle's UI was limited to select languages. The feature has now been extended to all languages supported by Tesla. This expansion affirms Tesla's commitment to accessibility for its global user base, ensuring a seamless experience across different regions and languages.
While the Text Size feature in update 2023.12 only applied to the Model 3 and Model Y, it's not clear whether update 2023.20 also introduces the feature to the Model S and Model X. Based on Tesla's feature release history, this feature will likely apply to at least the redesigned Model S and Model X in the futre, but it's not immediately clear whether that is happening with this update.
Large text size feature is now available in all supported languages.
To update your settings, go to Controls > Display > Text Size.
Although Tesla does not provide release dates for upcoming software updates, we may see update 2023.20 start rolling out in the next week or two. This timing can change if Tesla uncovers issues that need to be addressed before a public release.
2023.12 Update: A Look Back
As we anticipate the rollout of 2023.20, it's worth reflecting on the last major update - 2023.12.1. This update significantly enriched Tesla's features, particularly for Model 3 and Model Y. One standout was steering wheel customization. A long press on the left scroll button revealed a host of adjustable settings and functions.
Moreover, introducing the new search function facilitated more accessible access to controls and settings, along with points of interest that included photos and reviews. The ability to adjust wipers using the steering wheel scroll wheel emerged as a valuable, undocumented feature.
Perhaps one of the most user-friendly updates was the option of Standard or Large text sizes for the touchscreen display, which now applies to all languages under the 2023.20 update.
Other improvements included optional gear chimes for Model 3/Y, the transition of Tesla's Spotify player to a web-based format, enhanced phone call controls, and vision-based speed assist feature expansion. Tesla also broadened Zoom availability to more countries, added writing support for legacy Model S and Model X in China, and continued to make user interface enhancements.
While this is an early look at the upcoming features update 2023.20, it provides a glimpse into Tesla's continuing pursuit of improving user experience and convenience. There may be additional features in this update that are not listed here since not all Tesla features are available for every vehicle or region.
As we wait for the public release, it's evident that Tesla continues to push boundaries in its software development, setting high standards in the electric vehicle market.
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