Innovation

Musk Reads: Free Tesla Model S and X range boost coming

Cybertruck is outpacing the Model 3, the Solar Roof is going global, and a stock move sparks new Gigafactory talk.

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Cybertruck is outpacing the Model 3, the Solar Roof is going global, and a stock move sparks new Gigafactory talk. It’s Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #144.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk quote of the week

“All S/X cars made in recent months have actually been above stated EPA range. Will be unlocked soon for free via software update…[400 miles is] maybe possible with improved wheels/tires (which would be available to all previously made cars).”

Tesla

Is Tesla about to ditch cobalt? Reuters reported Tuesday that the company is in talks with CATL to ditch the metal in its batteries for cars built in its China facility. These lithium iron phosphate batteries could prove cheaper than current batteries by a “double-digit percent,” according to a publication source. Most cobalt is mined in harsh conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Musk promised in June 2018 the material would be eliminated from future batteries. The big downside? They tend to be less dense than Tesla’s current batteries, around 160 watt-hour per kilogram versus around 247 for Tesla’s 2170 cells. Evidence suggests CATL may be closing in on these figures.

The Tesla Cybertruck, set for launch in late 2021, may be outpacing the Tesla Model 3 sedan in terms of preorders. A fan-made tracker suggests the company has received over 535,000 reservations in the three months since unveiling versus the 518,000 total reservations Tesla received for the Model 3 between April 2016 and August 2017. One important caveat: Refundable Model 3 deposits were $1,000 each, but for the Cybertruck they’re only $100. Read more.

Tesla looks to be making the most of its high stock price, which, at the time of writing, has reached $934, soaring from its $227 price from six months prior. The company plans to issue $2 billion in common stock, with a further $300 million available over a 30-day period. It could mean more money for the company’s expansion. Cathie Wood, CEO of research firm ARK Invest, suggested on Twitter that she “wouldn’t be surprised if Elon announces plans for another Gigafactory in China, a vote of confidence in the resilience of that country.” Read more.

Speaking of China, Tesla looks set to start producing a longer range, rear-wheel-drive version of the Model 3 at the new Shanghai facility. Read more.

Tesla Solar Roof.Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Tesla Solar Roof.Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tesla solar

The Tesla Solar Roof looks set to go global. Musk declared this week that he was “looking forward to international expansion later this year.” It would be the first time in the product’s history, unveiled in October 2016, that it would be available outside of the United States. The third-generation tiles were unveiled in October 2019, and Musk has suggested that new color options could launch later this year. Read more.

What’s next for Tesla: Tesla is expected to start shipping the Model Y in March.

In other Musk news…

OpenAI should “be more open,” Musk declared this week. Musk co-founded the artificial intelligence research non-profit in late 2015, but this week he expressed concern the company was moving away from its original approach. Musk stepped down from the OpenAI board in February 2018, and has since shifted his A.I. focus to Neuralink. Read more.

Is Musk feeling the Bern? The CEO has been sharing a number of Bernie Sanders memes via Twitter in recent days. Musk previously expressed support for basic income advocate Andrew Yang. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

John Gay writes:

Several times I have inadvertently moved the Autopilot lever when I meant to move the turn signal lever. The mistake can cause sudden acceleration and driver confusion […] Urge [Musk] to add steering wheel “pads” like on several other luxury automobiles in place of the Autopilot lever.

You’re perhaps in luck. Tesla filed a patent this month for a touchpad-based steering wheel design that could drop the levers in favor of a haptic feedback system on the steering wheel.

Patrick writes:

Have you ever considered putting your solar roof panels on an RV? They would need to be made into an attractive pattern. But if you covered the entirety of a Class A RV you might have the first total electric RV.

While Tesla has yet to announce an RV, the Cybertruck is expected to offer a rear solar panel option that could add 15 miles of range per day. An added fold-out solar panel system could add up to 40 miles per day.

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to muskreads@inverse.com.

Photo of the week

Tesla Semi truck spotted in Canada.

Got a photo or video you’d like to see featured? Send it over to muskreads@inverse.com!

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #144, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

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