While 2018 was a year of mixed fortunes for Elon Musk, his Palo Alto-based automotive company, Tesla, had a record year, producing and selling more vehicles than ever in its fifteen-year history.
While Tesla would definitely like to carry this momentum forward into the new year, it will also be looking to live up to the announcements it made about the new Teslas we can expect to see this year.
Here’s what we can look forward to in 2019:
Tesla Model Y
In July 2016, Musk dropped a hint about a next-gen version of the Tesla “Model X” SUV, which we now know as the Model Y.
Then, we got our first glimpse of the all-electric crossover SUV at the company’s Annual Shareholder Meeting held in June 2017.
If what Musk has been saying is to be believed, we can expect a mid-March unveiling this year.
Meanwhile, there has been much talk about the Model Y going into production sometime in 2020 at the company’s Gigafactory 1, according to “elektrek.”
From what we were made to know about the vehicle, it’s going to be smaller than the Model X crossover and will have falcon-wing doors.
The Model Y will have simpler electrical systems, and it’s going to drop the12-volt battery architecture, as well.
We were also told that it was going to be built on a brand new architecture, not using the Model 3 platform or even the Model 3 underpinnings.
But in August, Musk said: “Upon the council of my executive team who reeled me back from the cliffs of insanity, the Model Y will, in fact, be using a substantial carryover from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster.”
He also said: “I’d like to thank my executive team for stopping me from being a fool.”
In Dec 2017, responding to a Tesla fan’s request, Musk had promised that his company would make a pickup truck soon “right after Model Y,” saying he had had the “core design/engineering elements” in his mind for nearly five years and that he was “dying” to build it.
Another fan asked if the pickup would be larger than the Ford F-150, adding that she was “hoping for a regular family size truck.”
He responded with: “Similar total size. Maybe slightly bigger to account for a really game-changing (I think) feature I’d like to add.”
The announcement didn’t come as a surprise because Musk had made a similar announcement in April that year, tweeting that he would “unveil” the pickup in “18 to 24 months.”
It remains to be seen whether we get to see it this year, or the if the wait is going to continue indefinitely.
Tesla Model 3
During the first half of 2018, the Tesla Model 3 encountered some major production issues, failing to meet deadlines time and again, managing to produce only 3,600 cars a week, on average, for a total of under 30,000 Model 3 cars.
Musk had attributed the production hiccups to overdependence on automation, admitting that humans were the answer to Tesla’s production woes.
When asked if robots were the reason behind the slowing down of production, Musk had said, “ Yes, they did … We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts … And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”
The very next day, Tesla temporarily halted the Model 3 production in a bid to improve its production performance by enhancing automation and removing bottlenecks – a move which was in stark contrast to what Musk had said a day earlier about humans being the answer to production issues.
However, most of the production hurdles were overcome in the second half and the company is starting 2019 with a decent rate of production which is expected to get even better in the months ahead.
In November 2017, Musk unveiled Tesla’s new all-electric semi-truck at the company’s Hawthorne facility in California.
Musk said that the imposing behemoth was capable of traveling 500 miles on a single charge, and would give one million miles of breakdown-free run.
According to Musk, the futuristic-looking semi is expected to go under production sometime this year.
Start of production date notwithstanding, pre-orders started pouring from the likes of Wall Mart, Meijer, and JB Hunt.
Wall Mart has reportedly pre-ordered 15 Tesla semis to add to its fleet of 6,000 conventional trucks.
The retail giant plans to employ five of these semis for its US operations while the remaining ten are intended for the company’s Canadian route.
Michigan-based supermarket chain Meijer told BLOOMBERG at the Hawthorne event that it had advanced $5,000 to Tesla for each of the four semis it had ordered.
Arkansas-based JB Hunt Transport Services said in a statement, at the time, that the company had booked “multiple” Tesla semis.
The company’s president and CEO John Roberts said, “We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology.”