Tesla is currently stuck in “production hell” with Model 3 delays, as Elon Musk describes it.
But Winston Churchill had a great quote about facing what seems like insurmountable adversity: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. This is certainly a maxim that Musk and Tesla will need to live by in order to realize the company’s longstanding mission, which is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Rise of Tesla: The Future Vision (Part 3 of 3)
Today’s giant infographic comes to us from Global Energy Metals, and it is the final part of our three-part Rise of Tesla Series, which is a definitive source for everything you ever wanted to know about the company.
Part 3 shows Elon Musk’s future vision, and what it holds for the company once it can get past current production issues.
To understand Tesla’s ambitions for the future, you need to know two things:
1. Tesla’s Mission Statement: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla can accomplish this by making electric vehicles, batteries, and energy solutions – and by finding ways seamlessly integrate them all together.
2. Tesla’s Strategy: “The competitive strength of Tesla long-term is not going to be the car, it’s going to be the factory.”
Tesla aims to productize the factory, so that vehicle assembly can be automated at a revolutionary pace.
In other words, Tesla wants to perfect the making of the “machine that builds the machine”. It wants to use these factories to pump out EVs at a pace never before seen. It aims to change the world.
The Future of Tesla
If Elon Musk has his way and everything goes according to plan, this is how the future of Tesla will unfold.
Note: Keep in mind that Tesla sometimes overpromises – and that the following is an extrapolation of Tesla’s vision and announced plans as of Spring 2018.
A Sustainable Energy Powerhouse
Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy – but simply making a few electric cars is not going to be enough to put a dent into this.
That’s why the future of Tesla will be defined by bigger and bolder moves:
The Tesla Semi: Tesla has unveiled the Tesla Semi, which can go 0-60 mph with 80,000 lbs (36 tonnes) in just 20 seconds. Fully electric, and with a 200 kWh battery pack, Musk says that it would be “economic suicide” for trucking companies to continue driving diesel trucks.
Mass Transit: Elon Musk said in his Master Plan, Part Deux blog post that he wants to design “high passenger-density urban transport”. It’s anticipated that this will come in the form of an autonomous minibus, built off the Model X concept.
A New Energy Paradigm: Tesla is not just building cars – it’s democratizing green energy by creating a self-dependent ecosystem of products. This way, homeowners can ensure their appliances and cars are running off of green energy, and even sell it back to the grid if they like.
As Tesla works on this sustainable future, the company isn’t afraid to show off its battery tech in the interim. The company even built the world’s largest lithium-ion battery farm (100 MW) in South Australia to win a bet, in fewer than 100 days.
Other New Models
Elon Musk says that Tesla plans to “address all major segments” of the auto market.
Model Y: This will be a crossover vehicle built on the Model 3 platform, expected to go into production in 2019. It will round out the “S3XY” product line of Tesla’s first four post-Roadster vehicles.
Pickup Truck: This will be Tesla’s priority after the Model Y, and Musk says he is “dying to build it”. Musk says it’ll be the same size of a Ford F-150 (or bigger) to account for a “game-changing” feature he wants to add, but has not yet revealed.
Ultra Low-Cost Model: Tesla has also announced that it will need a model cheaper than the Model 3 in the near future. This would allow Tesla to compete against a much wider segment of the auto market, and the future of Tesla hinges on its success.
Tesla already has two: Gigafactory I in Reno, NV (Batteries), and Gigafactory II in Buffalo, NY (Solar panels).
The Gigafactory I started battery cell production in 2017. It will eventually produce enough batteries to power 500,000 cars per year. Meanwhile, the second factory is operated by Tesla’s SolarCity subsidiary, producing photovoltaic modules for solar panels, and solar shingles for Tesla’s solar roof product.
Tesla said in 2017 that there will be “probably four” more battery Gigafactories in locations that would “address a global market”, including one in Europe. This makes sense, since the need for lithium-ion batteries to power these EVs is exploding. An important component of Tesla’s future will also be source the raw materials needed for these Gigafactories, such as cobalt, lithium, graphite, and nickel.
The Chinese Market
The good news: Tesla already owns about 81% of the market for imported plug-in EVs in China.
The bad news: That’s only about 2.5% of the total Chinese EV market, when accounting for domestically made EVs.
China is the largest auto market in the world – and make no mistake about it, Tesla wants to own a large chunk of it. In 2017, China accounted for 24.7 million passenger vehicle sales, amounting to 31% of the global auto market.
Automation and the Sharing Economy
Finally, Tesla wants its vehicles to be fully autonomous, and to have shared fleets that drive around to transport people.
Autonomous: Tesla aims to develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning.
Shared: Most cars are only used by their owner for only 5% of each day. With self-driving cars, a car can reach its true potential utility by being shared between multiple users.
The future of Tesla is ambitious, and the company’s strategy is even considered naïve by some.
But if Elon Musk and Tesla are able to perfect the building of the “machine that builds the machine”, all bets will be off.
That concludes our three-part Rise of Tesla Series – don’t forget to see Part 1 (Origin Story) and Part 2 (Rapid Growth). We’d also like to offer a special thanks to Global Energy Metals for making this series possible, as well.
Ranked: The Autonomous Vehicle Readiness of 20 Countries
This interactive visual shows the countries best prepared for the shift to autonomous vehicles, as well as the associated societal and economic impacts.
For the past decade, manufacturers and governments all over the world have been preparing for the adoption of self-driving cars—with the promise of transformative economic development.
As autonomous vehicles become more of a looming certainty, what will be the wider impacts of this monumental transition?
Which Countries are Ready?
Today’s interactive visual from Aquinov Mathappan ranks countries on their preparedness to adopt self-driving cars, while also exploring the range of challenges they will face in achieving complete automation.
The Five Levels of Automation
The graphic above uses the Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, which details the five levels of automation. Level 0 vehicles place the responsibility for all menial tasks with the driver, including steering, braking, and acceleration. In contrast, level 5 vehicles demand nothing of the driver and can operate entirely without their presence.
Today, most cars sit between levels 1 and 3, typically with few or limited automated functions. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as certain Tesla models and Google’s Waymo. Both feature a full range of self-driving capabilities—enabling the car to steer, accelerate and brake on behalf of the driver.
The Journey to Personal Driving Freedom
There are three main challenges that come with achieving a fully-automated level 5 status:
- Data Storage
Effectively storing data and translating it into actionable insights is difficult when 4TB of raw data is generated every day—the equivalent of the data generated by 3,000 internet users in 24 hours.
- Data Transportation
Autonomous vehicles need to communicate with each other and transport data with the use of consistently high-speed internet, highlighting the need for large-scale adoption of 5G.
- Verifying Deep Neural Networks
The safety of these vehicles will be dictated by their ability to distinguish between a vehicle and a person, but they currently rely on algorithms which are not yet fully understood.
Which Countries are Leading the Charge?
The 20 countries were selected for the report based on economic size, and their automation progress was ranked using four key metrics: technology and innovation, infrastructure, policy and legislation, and consumer acceptance.
The United States leads the way on technology and innovation, with 163 company headquarters, and more than 50% of cities currently preparing their streets for self-driving vehicles. The Netherlands and Singapore rank in the top three for infrastructure, legislation, and consumer acceptance. Singapore is currently testing a fleet of autonomous buses created by Volvo, which will join the existing public transit fleet in 2022.
India, Mexico, and Russia lag behind on all fronts—despite enthusiasm for self-driving cars, these countries require legislative changes and improvements in the existing quality of roads. Mexico also lacks industrial activity and clear regulations around autonomous vehicles, but close proximity to the U.S. has already garnered interest from companies like Intel for manufacturing autonomous vehicles south of the border.
How Autonomous Vehicles Impact the Economy
Once successfully adopted, autonomous vehicles will save the U.S. economy $1.3 trillion per year, which will come from a variety of sources including:
- $563 billion: Reduction in accidents
- $422 billion: Productivity gains
- $158 billion: Decline in fuel costs
- $138 billion: Fuel savings from congestion avoidance
- $11 billion: Improved traffic flow and reduction of energy use
Transportation will be safer, potentially reducing the number of accidents over time. Insurance companies are already rolling out usage-based insurance policies (UBIs), which charge customers based on how many miles they drive and how safe their driving habits are.
Long distance traveling in autonomous vehicles provides a painless alternative to train and air travel. The vehicles are designed for comfort, making it possible to sleep overnight easily—which could also impact the hotel industry significantly.
- Real Estate
An increase in effortless travel could lead to increased urban sprawl, as people prioritize the convenience of proximity to city centers less and less.
With the adoption of autonomous vehicles projected to reduce private car ownership in the U.S. to 43% by 2030, it’s disrupting many other industries in the process.
Palladium: The Secret Weapon in Fighting Pollution
The world is in critical need of palladium. It’s a crucial metal in reducing emissions from gas-powered vehicles, and our secret weapon for cleaner air.
Despite the growing hype around electric vehicles, conventional gas-powered vehicles are expected to be on the road well into the future.
As a result, exhaust systems will continue to be a critical tool in reducing harmful air pollution.
The Power of Palladium
Today’s infographic comes to us from North American Palladium, and it demonstrates the unique properties of the precious metal, and how it’s used in catalytic converters around the world.
In fact, palladium enables car manufacturers to meet stricter emission standards, making it a secret weapon for fighting pollution going forward.
The world is in critical need of palladium today.
It’s the crucial metal in reducing harmful emissions from gas powered vehicles—as environmental standards tighten, cars are using more and more palladium, straining global supplies.
What is Palladium?
Palladium is one of six platinum group metals which share similar chemical, physical, and structural features. Palladium has many uses, but the majority of global consumption comes from the autocatalyst industry.
In 2018, total gross demand for the metal was 10,121 million ounces (Moz), of which 8,655 Moz went to autocatalysts. These were the leading regions by demand:
- North America: 2,041 Moz
- Europe: 1,883 Moz
- China: 2,117 Moz
- Japan: 859 Moz
- Rest of the World: 1,755 Moz
Catalytic Converters: Palladium vs. Platinum
The combustion of gasoline creates three primary pollutants: hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. Catalytic converters work to alter these poisonous and often dangerous chemicals into safer compounds.
In order to control emissions, countries around the world have come up with strict emissions standards that auto manufacturers must meet, but these are far from the reality of how much pollutants are emitted by drivers every day.
Since no one drives in a straight line or in perfect conditions, stricter emissions testing is coming into effect. Known as Real Driving Emissions (RDE), these tests reveal that palladium performs much better than platinum in a typical driving situation.
In addition, the revelation of the Volkswagen emission scandal (known as Dieselgate) further undermines platinum use in vehicles. As a result, diesel engines are being phased out in favor of gas-powered vehicles that use palladium.
Where does Palladium Come From?
If the world is using all this palladium, where is it coming from?
Approximately, 90% of the world’s palladium production comes as a byproduct of mining other metals, with the remaining 10% coming from primary production.
In 2018, there was a total of 6.88 million ounces of mine supply primarily coming from Russia and South Africa. Conflicts in these jurisdictions present significant risks to the global supply chain. There are few North American jurisdictions, such as Ontario and Montana, which present an opportunity for more stable primary production of palladium.
Long Road to Extinction
The current price of palladium is driven by fundamental supply and demand issues, not investor speculation. Between 2012 and 2018, an accumulated deficit of five million ounces has placed pressures on readily available supplies of above-ground palladium.
Vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) will continue to dominate the roads well into the future. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, it will not be until 2040 that ICE vehicles will dip below 50% of new car sales market, in favor of plug-in and hybrid vehicles. Stricter emissions standards will further bolster palladium demand.
The world needs stable and steady supplies of palladium today, and well into the future.
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