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Sunday, January 7, 2024

Tesla 2024 :: What To Expect From Tesla This Year

Following Tesla is never boring. 2024 is just starting and there is already writing on the wall that ensures that this year will be no different. The refreshed Model 3 will be coming to the US. The Model Y (the best-selling car in the world) will be refreshed. More Cybertrucks will hit the streets. The semi will move beyond its beta with Pepsi and much more.

Highlander Comes to US

Tesla refreshed the Model 3 last year. This new version of Model 3 was codenamed "Project Highland." Highland offers significant chassis and suspension upgrades; improved build quality; reduced noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH); added range; and colorful LED ambient lighting. The long-range highland boasts an impressive range of up to 353 miles.

Currently, this variant of the Model 3 is available in China and Europe today. In 2024, expect to see this vehicle rolling off the lines in Fremont.

Model Y Update :: Project Juniper 

Similar to the Model 3 update, Model Y will also be getting revamped. The question is, "What portions of this update will be just to catch up with Highlander, and which will be leapfrog concepts?"

The catch-up items: suspension upgrades (changes to the suspension geometry, suspension bushings, and rear subframe mount), minor chassis aero improvements (adding more range), stalkless, ambient lighting. These items are expected in Juniper. 

To be a true Tesla project, more than just just catching up is required. Tesla does not play the innovation game lightly. They make bold moves. Model Y is their best-selling vehicle, but that won't hold them back. Innovation is Tesla's lifeblood. Will they integrate some of the Cybertruck advancements into Model Y? If so, Juniper could have a 48 Volt architecture, steer-by-wire, a power frunk, and/or "Etherloop." The latter seems the most likely.


Call it the $25,000 Tesla, Model 2, Robotaxi platform, or (my preference) Model Next; we will be hearing about this vehicle in 2024. In a late 2023 interview with Sandy Munro, Elon Musk said the design was nearly complete. 

This vehicle will be a game changer for Tesla and the entire auto industry. If we're lucky, Tesla will hold an unveiling event in September of 2024, with deliveries starting in Q1 of 2025. Given that Tesla is currently working on increasing Cybertruck production rate, this is an aggressive prediction but a possibility. Either way, we'll see leaks about this vehicle throughout 2024. 

Here are some of the features we may hear about: entire chassis single casting, steer-by-wire, brake-by-wire, brake-by-motor.

NACS - J3400

Tesla has won the charging wars in North America. CHAdeMO and CCS will fade into history as the Betamax and laserdisc of EV charging. This year we'll see Tesla roll out support for various legacy automakers to start using their Magic Dock Supercharger stations and we'll see adapters coming from these same legacy automakers that allow their CCS vehicles to use the native NACS stations as well as Tesla destination stations. 

The other exciting NACS news to expect in 2024 is the official adoption of NACS (aka SAE J3400) as the official charging standard of the US. The US government still needs to update the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) recommendations to acknowledge NACS. When they do, this will mean for a new EV charging station installation to qualify for Federal infrastructure incentives, most of the handles must be NACS.


Our first peek at Roadster was so long ago (December of 2017). Tesla has really been dragging their feet on this one. The justification for the slow roll is that the Roadster is "dessert" and that other projects (Semi, Cybertruck, Highland...) are more important to Tesla's mission than a new sports car. 

So what will 2024 hold for the Roadster? I going to assume, not much. Tesla's 2024 focus will be on increasing Cybertruck production, 4680 volume, Highlander production in the US, and bringing Juniper to market. So sorry Roadster, you might have to wait another year.

If you're a Roadster reservation holder, I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see anything that elevates the Roadster's importance in 2024. It would be cool to see a demo of it hovering via the compressed air COPV tank. 

50s Diner - Rock-n-Charge

We've been hearing about this Tesla diner for some time now. Tesla is creating a place where you can pull in, plug in, and have food delivered to your car while you're charging up. The property has been purchased, permits have been issued, and construction has started. 

I would not be surprised if Tesla integrated ordering into the center screen and/or the Tesla app. With any luck, we'll see a ribbon-cutting slash grand opening in 2024.

Full Self-Driving (FSD) v12 

Version 12 of FSD went out to employees in late 2023 and should be released to other Tesla owners in early 2024. V12 is special, it is the first version to have end-to-end neural nets. V12 has no human-written code included. The inference engine will conduct object recognition, path planning, and vehicle control. 

With any new architecture change like this, there is an initial step backward in performance. This is the stacked sigmoid method that Jim Keller is known for articulating. The new system has the potential for better results, but you cannot start there. Instead, the new architecture starts at the low end of its performance and iterates from there until it has reached the saturation point (asymptotic or point of diminishing returns), and only then do the limitations of the architecture become apparent. Only then (once the limitations are known) can you design the next system to overcome these limitations. Said another way, you must climb the current hill before you can have a view of your next challenge.

In retrospect, end-to-end neural networks is the obvious answer. If human-written code could have solved the autonomy problem, the DARPA Autonomous Vehicle Challenge would have been claimed soon after it started in 2004. Over the 7 years that Tesla has been working on autonomy, the neural nets have been absorbing more and more of the work, now with v12 things have come to the ultimate conclusion; the neural nets now own all of problem-space from photons into the cameras to driving controls out.

Human-written software can't foresee and explicitly code for every situation or edge case that can happen in the real world. The fuzzy logic of AI systems allows for these unforeseen cases to be covered if the training data has enough similar situations for a general guideline to emerge.

Three years ago, here in this blog, we predicted that Tesla would not have true eyes-off-the-road autonomy until at least 2027. I'll be happy to see it arrive sooner, but I would not bet on it. Although, end-to-end neural nets with an occupancy network seems like the right solution. So once v12 enters the linear phase of its evolution (see image above) this year, we will see a rapid improvement in FSD performance. 

FSD in tunnels

So what can we expect to see for FSD in 2024? One of the things I'd like to see is autonomy in the vehicles in the Boring Company Loop Tunnels. This is a controlled environment. There's no cross traffic, no drunk or distracted drivers. This is the perfect place for the initial version of Tesla driverless vehicles.

Price Volatility 

In response to interest rates and other factors, Tesla's vehicle prices were volatile in 2023. You can expect more of the same in 2024. Hopefully, this time due to falling interest rates rather than increasing rates. 

In the US, the federal EV incentive has several changes in 2024. The good part of the changes is that the incentive is applied at the point of purchase. This makes the financing much easier. The bad part of the changes is that fewer EVs will qualify for the complete $7500 incentive. 

If you're EV shopping in the US in 2024, you should check the tax incentive rules and vehicles that qualify here.

Production Volumes

2024 will be the year that Tesla produces more than 2 million EVs in a single year. Tesla is yet to release 2024 production guidance. However, given that they produced about 1.8 million vehicles in 2023 and their growth rate, they should produce at least 2.2 million vehicles in 2024. A more detailed estimate will be published soon after Tesla releases their final data.

Cybertruck ramp estimate by Hyperchange YouTube channel

Cybertruck Production Ramp

The above is a bullish estimate from Gallilo Russel. With 2 million reservations, this fast ramp-up is vital to fulfill these and the new reservations that are coming in everyday. As each Cybertruck rolls out onto the streets, it is a rolling billboard for the distinctive profiled vehicle.

Given the many challenges that Tesla faces in producing a vehicle with so many never-been-done-before features, the first year of production is likely to be slow-going, starting with just hundreds per week and ending the year with a run rate of thousands per week. Galli and I agree that production will get to a half million per year, just not how fast it will get there. 

For my 2024, Cybertruck production, I estimate 25,000 to 35,000. However, on NYE 2024, I'll be happy if Galli's estimate is more accurate than mine.

Austin Nature Park Opens to Public 

The Giga Texas production site is enormous (8.5 km^2 or 2,100 acres). One of the things that is planned to be added to this space is a is a nature park that's open to the public. Plans have been submitted to the county and this area could open in 2024.

Knowing Elon's love of all things Monty Python, I expect to see a section of path dedicated to The Ministry of Silly Walks☺

Powerwall 4 - Ironman 

Powerwall 2 Plus and Powerwall 3 came out in 2023. These were nice advancements, but they used the same battery as the Powerwall 2. In 2024, I expect to see a LFP based Powerwall from Tesla. LFP batteries are more tolerant to temperature extremes. The drawback is that they're not as energy dense. So we may see the new LFP Powerwalls coming in at 10kWh instead of the 13.5kWh of the current NMC Powerwalls.   

Optimus Hackus 

In 2023, we saw Optimus sorting blocks, handling eggs, and doing yoga. In 2024, you can expect to see big advancements. Tesla will deploy an Optimus or two in Giga Texas to conduct a simple task and gather real world data. 

Tesla Lithium Refinery

Tesla broke ground on their lithium refinery in Corpus Christi, TX in May of 2023. This year we should see the first results of its operation. The goal of the 1200+ acre site is to reinvent lithium refining and increase the supply of battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

Tesla aims to deploy the first industrial-scale. acid-free lithium refinery. Their process eliminates the use of hazardous reagents and byproducts in favor of inert options. The byproduct from this facility, a mixture of sand and limestone, is useful in the production of construction materials, making beneficial use of traditional waste streams.

This site is also intended to eventually be a battery recycling plant.

Wrapping It Up

A global charging network opening to other vehicles, self driving cars, robots walking around, stainless steel trucks... 2024 is starting to look like the twenty first century, instead of just the 26th iteration of 1999. Even the retro 1950s diner will have the modern twist of EV charging and ordering via apps. 

I am long Tesla

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