3.What next for Tesla EVs: January 2020

Model Y casting analysis almost spot on !

What next for Tesla: January 2020

Tesla has already announced that there might not be any more new vehicle reveals for some time, but that probably means that there are some major developments going on in the Tesla research teams.

Battery development is still the key to getting the price of Evs down and ramping up supply. The amount of research and thought going into battery design and production has increased dramatically in the past year world wide. So we can expect announcements from Tesla of batteries that cost less, last longer, hold more charge, charge faster and use less rare materials. Solid state batteries, and Lithium Sulphur are two I would keep a close eye on, but others may surprise us.

At some point we will see dramatic changes with new battery chemistries giving much greater increases in charge and charging rates, combined with price reductions – but that is not as easy to predict.

The evolution of self driving ability is also likely to accelerate through 2020. New sensors, new software and new processors are likely to help Tesla keep its lead, and even extend it’s lead over the competition.

When we look at vehicle manufacture processes, I think the Cybertruck is key to the research and development going on both for Tesla and for SpaceX.

Stainless steel, cut and welded by robots could be the key to lower price and flexible manufacture. Stamping presses require a huge investment and greatly restrict the ability to make incremental improvements in the design of the body shell.

Stainless steel, cut and welded by robots allows steady incremental improvements – you can make small changes week by week and evolve the design. This method of manufacture also takes a small standard set of stainless steel rolled sheet profiles, and cuts and welds them to make the body shell. This has the potential to make body work repairs much cheaper – and bring down the cost of insurance for Tesla vehicles. The repair shop only needs a stock of these standard profiles, and the ability to cut the section needed for a repair.

Cutting and welding stainless steel using robots is not a new process that Tesla has to invent. These are techniques already commonly used for the mass production of complex stainless steel profiles. Tesla is simply applying these, and developing them for the manufacture of car bodies, and space rockets.

The cybertruck is going to be the test bed for all these new technologies. When the Cybertruck starts to roll off the production lines it will have better battery technology, better self driving technology and better safety than anything on the market today.

We can also predict what might follow the cybertruck off the production lines.

The model 3 and the model Y with their big investments in stamping plant and paint shop are not flexible enough or low cost enough for future manufacturing.

The Cybertruck on the other hand is a pattern for rapid development and manufacture.

Once the Cybertruck is ready for production, Tesla has a rolling platform of batteries, motors and control systems on which many other desirable vehicles can be built with little extra investment needed.

I suspect that the Cybertruck will end up just under 2m wide and under 5m long.

This is an excellent size to build anything from large SUVs , people carriers to delivery vans. And with a range of 750 miles priced at under $40,000 or £40,000 who wouldn’t want one! Add self driving as well and we start to see Tesla’s future.

Note that once your battery capacity exceeds the range you need, having the vehicle as aerodynamic as possible doesn’t matter as much -utility is far more important, and at low speeds in the city utility is far more important than streamlining.

Let us move the windscreen of the Cybertruck forward and make it steeper – that also gives us better visibility for the driver in city streets. Forward of the windscreen and motors is purely crash protection. This could be more rounded for streamlining, and could be made of hard rubber foam for crash protection. It doesn’t have to be shiny metal!

We can imagine a basic van design with a flat floor and a drivers seat, and sliding side doors. This will carry euro-pallets or 8’ x 4’ flat sheets. Or all the boxes of a delivery van.

Buy this basic van for your own camper van conversion, or your specialist work vehicle

Add two more seats for a three seat van.

Add a row of 3 seats for a six seater SUV.

Add two rows of rear seats for a 9 seat people carrier. Did you know that children of all ages are far safer in rear facing seats?

I expect to see hints of all these developments through 2020, with firm details for 2021.