- Asa Mathat | D: All Things Digital
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is gearing up for a big October.
One possibility is that Tesla is gearing up for its Autopilot 2.0 hardware announcement. According to TechCrunch, the updated system will enable Tesla Autopilot to read stop signs and traffic lights, allowing the cars to navigate even when not driving on highways – a current limitation.
But the announcement could also have to do with Tesla’s at-home energy storage options, the Powerwall and Powerpack. During Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call, Musk teased that new at-home storage options were on the way.
Tesla product unveiling on the 17th (unexpected by most), followed by Tesla/SolarCity on the 28th
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 9, 2016
“We’ve got our next generation technology and we are trying to get up that production line so it’s gonna be heavily concentrated in Q4 and primarily in November and December,” Musk said during the call, Electrek reported at the time. “I think it’s going to be really exciting when people see it. That’s why I expect exponential growth from there. I think it’s really going to go ballistic.”
Less likely is that Tesla is gearing up for the unveiling of its compact SUV design, the Model Y. Musk also said during Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call that the Model Y will be the next car after the Model 3, which is slated for arrival by the end of 2017 or early 2018. He also included the Model Y in his “Master Plan, Part Deux” in July.
The Model Y is expected to be built on the Model 3 platform and may even spawn a pickup truck variant.
More automakers are turning their attention to all-electric SUVs because of their rising popularity at a time where demand for sedans is falling. The Chevy Bolt will hit dealerships by the end of this year, and other automakers like Mercedes have unveiled plans for electric SUVs to arrive in the next three years or so.
It could be that Tesla is trying to generate hype for its electric SUV as the space gets more crowded.
Still, the Model Y would be an ambitious unveiling at a time where Tesla is trying to ramp up production for the Model 3 and push its SolarCity merger through.
As for the solar roof product unveiling occurring on October 28, Musk has said that the product will be “a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof. It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof, which is a quite difficult engineering challenge and not something that is available anywhere else.”
UPDATE: Musk announced he was delaying the surprise product announcement to October 19 to give it a “few more days of refinement.”