Innovation

Musk Reads: Tesla Cybertruck could have a folding rear wall

Tesla looks set to build a new factory and the Model S gets a battery range boost. What about the Tesla electric plane?

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla looks set to build a new factory and the Model S gets a battery range boost. What about the Tesla electric plane? It’s Musk Reads: Tesla Edition #178.

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

Musk quote of the week

“Worth considering”

  • Read more about Musk’s response to a suggestion that the Cybertruck’s rear wall could fold down, enabling the rear to carry items longer than eight feet and provide a camping area.

Tesla

Tesla has reached a landmark figure in battery range. The firm announced this week that North American versions of the Tesla Model S Long Range now have a range of 402 miles, up from the previously advertised 391 miles. This revised figure from the EPA applies to vehicles that went into production earlier this year, making a previously announced boost in range now official. It also ends a rather odd exchange between Musk and the EPA that started when Musk declared the agency didn’t test the vehicle properly. Read more.

Could Tesla switch to hydrogen fuel cells? Not a chance if Musk’s latest comments are any indication. The steadfastly anti-fuel cell CEO reiterated his opposition last week, when he described them as “staggeringly dumb” and “fool sells.” Musk criticized Hyundai’s plans in particular, which involve importing renewable energy into South Korea from other countries. Read more.

The Tesla Semi is preparing for a big jump into production nearly three years after the vehicle’s initial announcement. Read more.

What’s next for Tesla: Tesla is expected to host its planned Battery Day some time in the near future. Comments from Musk suggested a livestream could take place in June.

In other Tesla news…

Tesla has started building USB-C ports and wireless phone chargers into Model 3 cars built at its Fremont factory, Electrek reports. The feature had previously been available on Model Y cars and vehicles built at its Shanghai factory.

Could the next Tesla factory come to Texas? CNN reported this week that Travis County officials were meeting behind closed doors to discuss an incentive package. An announcement from Musk could come as early as July.

The Boring Company looks set to expand on its Las Vegas project. Musk declared via his Twitter page that it’s “looking likely” the firm’s first-ever project will expand to cover a broader area of Las Vegas. Read more.

Musk Reads mailroom

Shad Schidel writes:

This is a Tesla auto drive feature enhancement request. To me, the spacing of the vehicle during auto drive with regards to where it’s trying to target itself in the lane, is wrong for a two-lane road. On a two-lane road, where two lanes are going in the same direction, the vehicle should be adjusted left when in lane one, and adjusted right when in lane two.

The reasons I have for this are, first it allows motorcycles to filter through a lot more easily. Being a motorcycle rider myself, I can assure you this makes a big difference. Second, it just keeps the vehicles in different lanes farther apart giving them more time to adapt to emergencies. Lastly, when a vehicle is changing lanes quickly, having the extra space can mean the difference between a clipped fender and not.

This seems like a sensible suggestion, particularly as the system improves to enable more precise Autopilot. It would also make a difference for cyclists positioned on the far left. The Sun reported in 2018 about a stricter requirement that gives emergency services a pathway through. At this stage, though, it’s likely Tesla’s main priority is to ensure Autopilot stays within the lines as much as possible – even if this means sticking to the center of the lane.

Rhys Lee writes:

I’m still curious if the development of a million mile battery would allow for electric planes.

It’s unlikely this would be the factor that brings electric planes to life, but rather reductions in battery density. Maxwell Technologies, which Tesla acquired in February 2019, was working toward a battery that packed more energy per kilogram. Musk claimed in 2017 that Tesla would require around 500 watt-hours per kilogram to take off, where electric car batteries at the time offered around half of that. With the Maxwell acquisition, Tesla could be well-placed to incorporate its improvements in battery density into the designs. That means that while a “million-mile battery” wouldn’t quite offer the right benefits, Tesla’s upcoming battery could bring us a step closer thanks to other factors.

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

Photo of the week

Tesla Cybertruck mockup shows the rear folded down for more room.

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 #178, 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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