Tesla in 2020 – What to Expect

by Denis Gurskiy

During our Tesla in 2019 – What to Expect post, we said that 2018 was probably Tesla’s best year. Well, I think it is safe to say that 2019 has taken the crown as Tesla’s best year as the company continues to charge forward and check off milestones at a rapid pace. Looking back at our previous list, one can say that Tesla has checked off all of the points we brought up last year (although the $35,000 Model 3 is no more, FSD still is not a thing but is “feature complete”, and Supercharger V3 has not exactly had a large expansion). With most of their previous objectives accomplished, what can we expect to see from Tesla in 2020?

2020 Q4 Results

This was the year that Tesla stated that they would be able to sell between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles this year. Accomplishing this would be a huge milestone for the company as Tesla needs to sell about 105,000 cars this quarter to be able to hit the 360,000 mark. With them barely missing the 100,000 mark in Q3, this would be the first quarter where the automaker has hit the six-digit figure. With the recent opening on Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai and the first China-made Model 3s starting to roll off the production line, Tesla stock has been absolutely skyrocketing over the past few months, passing the elusive $420 mark. Of course, Musk could not let such an event not be immortalized on his twitter.

Will we still be able to have a good laugh once Tesla releases their earning report, or will we see a return to Earth?

Tesla Model Y

Tesla’s next big addition to its model lineup will show us if the company can continue its momentum or if the hype will slowly start to die down. The Model Y was revealed in March 2019 to what we can say were, mixed reviews. The biggest gripe being that it simply looks like a stretched out Model 3 and is not really substantially different.

Regardless the small SUV market is one of the biggest car segments in the world so it only makes sense for Tesla to try and tap into the huge population of potential buyers. However, basically every automaker has one or even more small SUVs in their lineups, meaning that Tesla will have to work for its market position if it wants to have the same success the Model 3 had with the mid-sized sedan segment.

While production was initially planned to start in early 2021, Tesla has pushed up their target dates and is aiming for a production start in mid-2020 with maybe even some small batched being produced even sooner. Given the number of parts it shares with the Model 3, it should not take Tesla too long to get production up and running. As a reminder, the Long Range Single Motor Model Y will start at $48,000.

Tesla Semi

While the Tesla Semi might not mean much to the average consumer (because let’s face it, who’s going to daily a semi-truck?) it is an important extra stream of revenue for Tesla who can expand its company into the commercial transportation space. The Tesla Semi has been spotted numerous times over the past year while it was doing road testing, but it has yet to be delivered to costumers.

Tesla has already taken deposits on the Semi which at this point in time comes in two variants, a 300-mile version costing $150,000 and a 500-mile version costing $180,000. Musk has however stated that while testing Tesla found that the Semi might have a range that is closer to 600 miles, but nothing official yet.

During the 2019 Q3 Earnings Report, Tesla confirmed that they would like to start limited production of the Semi in 2020, however, at this point, the factory that will be producing it has not been officially announced. Musk stated that he wants to eventually produce 100,000 Semis per year, but who knows how long it will take to reach that number.

At this point, we are just waiting on the final specs and first deliveries, with the Model Y and Gigfactory 3 taking up a lot of attention we wonder if we won’t see the Semi until late 2020.

Tesla Roadster

Honestly, it might be a while before we see the Roadster become a reality. While it was officially announced to be a 2020 model, given everything that is on Tesla’s plate, it seems the Roadster will be put on the backburner for the time being.

Musk himself has been trying to calm down the hype a little bit while he was on the Ride the Lightning podcast over the summer, saying:

“The new Roadster is a kind of dessert. Do we really need the new Roadster to accelerate our progress toward autonomy or toward electrification? No.”

Additionally, over the summer, the Roadster had received a sort of downgrade to its 0-60 mph time. While it was initially stated to have a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds, Musk had reiterated that the base model would have a (slightly less bonkers) time of 2.1 seconds, with the upgraded time being unlocked with the SpaceX Package.

We don’t have high hopes for seeing a production Roadster next year, but hopefully we’ll get some more information, maybe even a look at these thrusters that Elon keeps talking about.

Tesla Model S/X Update

One of the highlights of this year was watching Tesla and Porsche duke it out for lap times at the Nurburgring. Not only did it give us some entertaining drama, but it also gave us a look at the upgraded “Plaid” powertrain that features three motors and even more performance than what you would get out of a Performance Model S.

Additionally, there have been rumors for the longest time about an interior update coming to both the Model S and X that would have them fall more in line with the interior of the Model 3 and Y. With sales of the Model S/X not being too impressive over the past year, it might be in Tesla’s interest to inject some spice into the lagging models.

Gigafactory 3 Finishes Construction

While the Shanghai Gigafactory has already delivered some Chinese made Model 3s, the factory has still not been fully completed and more assembly lines will need to placed if it hopes to be able to produce 250,000 vehicles a year.

The plant is already producing Model 3s at a rate of about 1,500 cars per week. The final construction should be completed around March 2020.

Gigafactory 4 Starts Construction

Not wanting any time to catch their breaths, Tesla has already moved on to start the construction of Gigafactory 4 in Germany. Construction of the factory will begin in early 2020 and is expected to be completed by late 2021. However, given how quickly Gigafactory 3 went up, it would not be surprising if it was finished sooner or if it will start production at partial capacity sooner.

The new factory will give Tesla a foothold in the European market, extending its global reach.

It will initially start producing the Model Y before adding the Model 3 and possibly other models and possibly being able to produce up to 500,000 vehicles annually.

Improved Batteries

Tesla has always had a ridiculous lead when it came to range when compared to any other electric cars on the market today, and it has just kept growing.

Both the Model S and X received a powertrain update that sent their ranges even higher. Over the past year Tesla has made some acquisitions that point to improved battery architecture and production. When you consider that the Semi might have a range close to 600 miles and the upcoming Cybertruck will have a range of over 500 miles, Tesla must be planning some sort of upgrade to its batteries.

It becomes even more apparent when they announced that there will be a “Battery and Powertrain INvestory Day”, similar to their Autonomy Day where they showcased Hardware 3, we imagine that Tesla will go into detail about an all-new efficient powertrain that will make its range leader even larger.

Full Self Driving/Robotaxi

Speaking of Autonomy Day, we are due for a Robotaxi fleet making its way next year. Which means that Full Self Driving should more or less become a reality next year for that to work. Skeptical? Yeah, me too, especially after our short trials with Smart Summon.

While Musk has stated that the FSD is now “feature complete” it will still take a lot of work for the system to be able to be trusted to handle and monitor itself.  We might see some major strides in the system over the next year, but achieving full self-driving within the next 12 months might just be too much of a stretch.

Tesla App Store

For many years Tesla has been talking about releasing a software development kit (SDK) so that developers could develop applications that could run natively on the Tesla software. It was an idea that never came to fruition, but over the summer Musk had broached the topic again on the Ride the Lightning podcast saying:

“In order for it to be worthwhile for somebody to write an app, there has to be enough of an install base to warrant the effort. Even if you are going to port something, it’s still got to be worth the effort. As our number of vehicles grow, it starts to potentially makes more sense to develop games and other applications for Tesla. We just need a lot of cars.”

With Tesla selling more cars than ever, it might be the time where Tesla has enough cars that it would make sense to have apps developed for the Tesla software.

Is there anything we missed that you are looking forward to from Tesla in 2020? Think that everything in this list will be accomplished? Let us know down in the comments.

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