Tesla has a number of other future products under development, it teased on Wednesday, as part of its quarterly update for investors. And while there’s no guarantee we’ll get an update on persistent rumors like the affordable Model 2, some of those upcoming products may be revealed as part of a March 1 Investor Day.
With scaled-up Semi production due at the Nevada Gigafactory expansion announced this week, and a whopping 100 gigawatt-hours of additional cell production of its new 4680-format cylindrical cells due from a new factory on the complex, Tesla will have enough cells for 1.5 million light-duty vehicles, it said.
To parse that out, at about 900 kwh for the Tesla Semi battery pack and the hopes to eventually ramp production of the Semi up to 50,000 trucks per year, that leaves a lot of extra batteries—more than half of the allotment coming from the expanded plant, even if the Semi’s a hit—for other products (keep in mind the existing Gigafactory will still be supplying Fremont, and Giga Texas will have its own battery plant).
So which other products are on the horizon at Tesla, to be built with those batteries?
“I alluded to a number of future products; those future products would use the 4680,” said CEO Elon Musk, referring to what else might be built with that added battery capacity.
Hints in the numbers, maybe
If it’s any hint, Tesla suggested that 100 gigawatt-hours was enough for 1.5 million vehicles, and that allows for less than 67 kwh per vehicle. While it’s unlikely for so many Standard Range cars to return to the U.S., does that mean some much smaller or last-mile vehicles are among them?
Answers might come relatively soon. As the company hinted on Wednesday, its March 1 Investor Day might include product announcements, more info on the development of its next-generation vehicle platform, and the expansion of its manufacturing footprint, all as part of an update on the company’s roadmap.
“We have other products in development…they’re very exciting, and I think we’ll blow people’s minds when we reveal them” hyped Musk. “Tesla has the most exciting product roadmap of any company on Earth by a long shot.”
Musk hadn’t provided much detail on what that might be, until George Gianarikas of Canaccord Genuity asked whether, given the huge tax incentives afforded for commercial vehicles, Tesla was considering accelerating commercial-vehicle form factors outside the Semi.
“Well I was basically saying that, yes,” said Musk adding that he couldn’t yet provide details.
But, as the CEO often does in such interactions, he couldn’t resist providing some background.
Musk explained: “We’re always looking at what is the limiting factor for new vehicles, because for the longest time we’ve been constrained on total-cell, lithium-ion production output. And so people say, like, why not bring this other car to market at that other car market? Well, it doesn’t really help. But all you’re doing is shuffling around the batteries from one car to another.”
He added simply that it’s pointless and counterproductive, because you end up with a complex model to build without solving the battery problem.
A product that fits the cells, where they’re available
“We want a new-product introduction to match where cells are available for that new product, to use those sales without cannibalizing the sales of the other cars,” continued Musk. “That’s the actual limiting factor for any new models, not anything else really.”
Does that mean a solar product aiming to reduce dependency on batteries? A Robovan or Cybervan? A delivery vehicle? A version of the $25,000 Tesla? Or a Tesla model specifically for ride-hailing?
Maybe Tesla should make a highly configurable Robovan for people & cargo?
— Mr. Tweet (@elonmusk) July 7, 2022
Uber just last week said that it’s working with unnamed EV makers to create customized vehicles for ride-hailing and delivery, so it could for instance be the product of such a partnership.
Musk tends to get well ahead of what Tesla has actually delivered. Tesla still hasn’t delivered the Cybertruck, and it says it won’t deliver any significant numbers of them this year, with a production ramp to follow in 2024. And in a quarterly update Wednesday it didn’t provide any update on the Roadster.
Musk meanwhile revealed an added layer of complexity for the Cybertruck—that it will have Tesla’s next-generation Hardware 4 set for safety and assisted-driving features.
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