During a conference call yesterday, Elon Musk gave all sorts of details about Tesla's future plans. There's a compact SUV and semi truck that will debuted in months not years, and a tantilising promise of autonomous driving coming soon.
Speaking about Tesla's progress in full Level 4 autonomy, Musk said that “what we’ve got will blow people’s minds, it blows my mind …it’ll come sooner than people think.” Mysterious? Yes, but absolutely exciting.
Musk didn't say exactly when we can expect autonomous driving from the company, but he did say that it's a software problem, not hardware. The only hardware limitation is that the computer to run the software needs to fit in the car, and not consume excessive amounts of power.
That leaves the door wide open for Tesla's upcoming Model 3 to be the first fully-autonomous Tesla vehicle. It will have all the same hardware components as currently feature in the Autopilot-capable Model S and X. According to Electrek, Musk said that there would be a big event "towards the end of the year" addressing the Model 3 and autonomous driving.
Musk previously announced in his Master Plan that Tesla is working on a semi truck and a minibus, but yesterday he put clocks on the project. We can expect to see prototypes within 6-9 months, and a full production rollout within a few years. It follows the same development pattern that Tesla has used with the Model 3: announce the product while it's in prototype stage, build hype, and work out production issues later.
Finally, we also heard a little more about the rumored "Model Y," a compact SUV Tesla is expected to bring as its next consumer car. Musk said they expected demand to be between 500,000 and a million per year, but didn't announce a release date.
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