Some people go to Twitter to beg for the opportunity to test FSD. At Tesla’s Q4 2020 earnings call, Elon Musk said the FSD package is still not transferable to another car if you sell the car that has it. The new owner also does not get it, which implies Tesla gets it if the vehicle is sold. So much discussion about it, and the truth is that no Tesla passenger car should get level 4 autonomy before the Semi – or so said Musk.
He confirmed that to Gene Munster, from Loup Ventures, when he asked if Semi trucks wouldn’t be the first Tesla vehicles to achieve full autonomy because they “typically travel predictable highway miles.”
Musk confirmed his impression by saying, “it seems highly likely, yes,” adding that he had no idea “who would be number two.” Considering the computers in the Semi and cars would have “the exact same part numbers,” as Jérôme Guillen (president of the automotive division) said, all the truck would need is “to modify the software parameters.”
One example Musk gave was if the Semi tried “to parallel park” anywhere because “it needs to know its limitations being a giant truck.” Another one was “there are turns that you could do in a regular car that you cannot do in a Semi.”
Now that we know we will have “robotrucks” before “robotaxis,” all it will take for someone who wants to sleep while driving is to buy a Semi. Tesla said deliveries would start in 2021, but Elon Musk stressed that 4680 cell production volume is necessary before that is possible and that they do not have enough of them right now.
According to Andrew Baglino (senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering), the Kato facility already has a production capacity of 10 GWh per year. It hasn’t started delivering these batteries for production cars yet because “the cell engineering teams refined designs” to the new tabless cells to meet the company’s “performance and cost targets.”
All that seems to be left is hiring the production staff. Baglino stated that they have “developed enough engineering confidence with our 4680 design and the production process and equipment to kick off manufacturing equipment and facility construction to support our 100 GWh 2022 goal.”
No car yet uses the 4680 cells – the refreshed Model S still uses the 18650 form factor. However, Musk said the “Semi would use typically five times the number of cells that cars would use, but it would not sell for five times what a car would sell for.” If there is a cell shortage, he argues that it makes more sense to sell cars than semi-trucks.
Despite that, Tesla’s CEO also said that “it will absolutely make sense for us to do it as soon as we can address the cell production constraint.” Unless these batteries are way cheaper than the current ones, Musk will have to elaborate a little more on why it would make sense to sell a vehicle with lower profit margins.
If that is the case because the Semi will be the first truly autonomous Tesla – proving the technology works as it should – Tesla could keep the same FSD strategy to recover the money it does not make or even loses on each truck sold. If the 4680 cells can bring production cost parity down dramatically, Tesla may even offer FSD for free in its cars – preferably, not as a beta, such as Autopilot still is.