Many changes have taken effect at Tesla Motors this year. Most of them are tied to the automaker’s incoming vehicle in some way or another. No doubt the next few months will prove crucial for Elon Musk and his electric car company as they prepare to win over the mass car market. But with everyone focused on the affordable Model 3 sedan, a few important things might have gone unnoticed. Here is a list of 5 major changes that have taken effect at Tesla this year.
Tesla pushes Autopilot to full autonomy
Tesla Motors constantly reaffirms its stance on style, practicality and safety overall. A massive part of the car maker’s safety features is its renown self-driving car system, which is in the process of being upgraded this year. Buyers who have opted for Autopilot 2.0 should notice a few differences already, according to Musk. Full level 5 autonomy will be available before the year is out.
“The real exciting thing is that we are making much more effective use of radar,” explained Tesla CEO, Elon Musk at a conference held in September 2016. Previously, the radar system on Tesla EVs worked to supplement the vision system. With the new upgrade, Musk says that radar is pushed to the fore. This greatly improves the car’s capacity to detect objects on the road, which allows Tesla’s autonomous system to better identify obstructions and initiate braking where appropriate.
Getting the radar system to pick up objects as accurately as possible was no light task. Musk admits that the upgrade took a significant effort to put together. However, the improvements now allow the system to effectively analyze it surroundings and obstructions in order to determine how the car should proceed. The updated system lets the car recognize a greater number of threats and obstructions which were not easy to detect before.
As a road safety feature, the radar system focuses particularly on “anything metallic or anything that is dense,” according to Musk . Overall, Autopilot 2.0 is better able to detect these items and is particularly good at avoiding them.
Autopilot 2.0 offers 360 degree visibility with more than 250 meters of range, along with 12 ultrasonic sensors, powerful processing speeds and forward-facing radar to boot.
Supercharging not so super for all
A revision was made to the economics of Tesla’s public charging stations this year. New Tesla owners will now start paying to juice up their cars. This is only once they have used up their annual allotment, of course. It is the biggest change to the Supercharger network since it was unrolled back in 2012. It also comes as huge relief to investors who saw free Supercharging as a waste of company resources.
Although, shareholders are not the only ones thrilled about the change. Existing members of the Tesla community appear extremely relieved as well. According to them, the limited use of free Superchargers will do away with many of the annoyances that are prevalent at Supercharger stations.
Anyone ordering a new Tesla today will find themselves less privileged than the existing Tesla community. New owners are only entitled to 400 kWh of free Supercharging per year as of Januaury 2017. This equates to around 1,000 miles of free juice. After that has been used up, drivers will be subject to light fee for charging their cars. Tesla assures that the cost will be reasonable and considerably less than filling up any gas-fueled car.
Musk has said that he believes public charging is not an effective way to fuel your Tesla. The chief exec tends to use his well-known cellphone analogy to drive the idea home. Where is the real benefit in owning a cellphone you had to go out to the store every time they needed to charge it? Your car is an item that is equally as personal, and so fueling it should be something that is more in the control of its owner.
To encourage the adoption of home charging stations and turn public Superchargers to a contingency plan, a change to the Supercharger Program was introduced.
Tesla beating expectations
Several production hold ups over the past year have seen Tesla Motors miss its vehicle targets by a considerable margins. This has only added to doubts about whether the company will actually reach it massive delivery 2018 target. The auto has loudly promised that half a million cars will be produced per yer by the end of 2018. That is a bold claim from a company that is yet to break away from 100,000 car a year.
But deliveries have beat many analyst projections this year. Moving strongly into the year of the Model 3, Elon Musk and his car company managed to deliver 25,000 Tesla during the Q1 2017. That number comes well over most analyst expectations, as repeated misses chipped away at delivery confidence.
The Model S sedan came slightly above the Model X SUV in terms of delivery figures in Q1. Tesla reportedly delivered 25,000 while an actual 25,418 cars were made this quarter. That represents a rise of 69 percent when compared to the same quarter last year. However, when it comes to the finance, Tesla is still expected to disclose a loss close to $125 million on the day of its Q1 earning report.
The end of the Model S 60
The Model S sedan is Tesla Motors’ pride and best-seller. In a bid to make the car more inclusive, the electric car giant re-introduced the Model S 60 kWh around a year ago. The task of winning over Tesla fans with limited pockets will be handed over to Model 3. In light of this, Tesla Motors is discontinuing the lowest battery option of the Model S.
Most customers ended up buying an equivilent to the Model S 75 kWh anyway, according to Tesla. “To simplify the ordering process for our customers, we will be removing the 60 kWh option from our line-up,” Tesla announced.
Those who still wish to get their hands on a Model S 60 kWh have a week to order the vehicle. The vehicle option will be discontinued as of 16 April 2017. Fun to note, the Model S 60 can be upgraded to 75 kWh battery via an over the air update.
The Model 3
The widely awaited Model 3 sedan cannot be left out of this list. It is undoubtedly the year’s most anticipated car. Nearly half a million pre-orders are on the books and the first year of production is already sold out.
Tesla has never had a problem scoring appeal among consumers. The company’s biggest barrier has always been the price of its cars though. That barrier keeps a lot of Tesla fans from becoming Tesla buyers even today. But that all stands to change with the Model 3. Going for an assured $35,000 at standard, the affordable Tesla pulled in masses of pre-orders when it was unveiled early last year. Today, it is believed that the number of people currently in line to get a new Model 3 is above 400,000.
In the coming months, Tesla Motors Inc will finally offer the public more details about the Model 3. This is according to online reports that cite comments made by the company and its executives. The news re-introduces a wave of excitement to several hundred thousand consumers who’ve lined up to get their hands on the affordable luxury EV.
During an investors conference back in November, Musk, revealed that another major Model 3 unveiling will take place with the coming months. Musk was very casual about the announcement, though, not wanting to dilute the meeting with the idea.
“Today is not the time for that announcement,” the CEO assured. “It’s probably, yeah, I don’t know, the beginning of spring or sometime like that. Yeah, 3 to 4 months from now.”