What Can We Expect From Tesla in 2022?
The era of electric vehicles can be divided into two periods — the time before the arrival of the Tesla Roadster in 2008 and the time after. In the nearly decade and a half since that watershed moment, Tesla has established itself as one of the most dynamic, innovative and valuable companies in the world — and Elon Musk shows no signs of slowing down.
Despite a global chip shortage that hobbled the auto industry all year long, Tesla delivered nearly 1 million vehicles in 2021 — 936,172, to be exact. That’s an increase of 87% over 2020.
The company’s success has earned Musk a net worth greater than $270 billion and the status of the richest person on Earth — and with what appears to be a very bright 2022 on the horizon, that already massive pie will almost certainly keep growing.
In October 2021, Automotive News reported that Panasonic had unveiled a brand new Tesla battery prototype that will have five times the storage capacity and cost half as much as the batteries currently powering Tesla’s vehicles. The cylindrical batteries are known by their format number: 4680.
Shortly after Panasonic revealed the future of EV batteries, Electrek reported that Tesla planned to debut the first vehicles powered by the new 4680 batteries in 2022. But what really made waves was where those batteries would be produced — not at a Panasonic facility in Japan, but at Tesla’s 5.3-million-square-foot Fremont Factory in California, where Elon Musk was building a pilot line just to produce 4680s. It was the first time that Tesla manufactured its own batteries despite its long history of involvement in the development of battery cells.
On the last day of 2021, Electrek reported that Tesla was quickly outgrowing its pilot manufacturing line in Fremont and was planning an enormous move into large-scale 4680 battery production at Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas.
The story of Tesla in 2022 will be the story of batteries — specifically, the story of whether or not Tesla proves able to produce 4680s in the vast quantities it will need to satisfy its intense customer demand.
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Tesla Will Increase Its Production Capacity — Maybe by Double
On Dec. 27, 2021, Daniel Ives, a closely watched Wall Street analyst and the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, fired off the following tweet:
“Tesla has navigated the chip supply shortages better than any automaker globally. We see three main catalysts for Tesla in 2022 that if successful will be a major driver of the stock moving higher. 1. Berlin/Austin build out, 2. China mega growth, 3. 22 unit growth of 55%-60%.”
Ives, according to InsideEVs, is the most prominent among many insiders who believe that Tesla is likely to double its production capacity by the end of 2022 — and there’s plenty of reason to believe that assessment. Tesla is currently wrapping up the launch of two new super-factories, one in Austin, Texas, and one in Berlin. At the same time, it’s expanding its Fremont, California, location and it’s increasing production capacity at Gigafactory Shanghai while scouting new locations in other countries.
While Tesla might not produce 2 million vehicles in 2022, Ives and others are on record as saying Musk’s company probably will have the capacity to produce that many by year’s end, up from its current capacity of 1 million.
Tesla has had so many firsts since the Roadster changed the EV game in February 2008 that it’s hard to keep up — but it won’t be the first in electric trucks. Elon Musk captured the world’s imagination when he unveiled the “Blade Runner”-meets-“Robocop” Cybertruck in 2019. It was a huge deal in the story of EVs.
Pickups are America’s vehicle of choice — the Ford F-Series has been the bestselling vehicle in America for more than 40 years — and whichever company could convince the masses to give up their beloved gas-fueled working trucks would win the future.
Cybertruck production was supposed to start this year, but on Jan. 4, Teslarati was the first to report that Tesla had scrubbed all mentions of a 2022 production estimate from its Cybertruck orders webpage. Although it beat all other automakers in debuting a prototype of a fully electric pickup, it’s now clear that Tesla will lose the race to actually get one on the road with paying customers behind the wheel.
Production will take place at Tesla’s new mega-facility in Austin in 2023; but, by the time that happens, several highly anticipated EV pickups already will have hit the road. None has garnered more excitement than the consummately impressive Ford F-150 Lightning.
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It Could Reach a Major Milestone in Automation
At the tail end of 2021, Musk announced on a podcast episode that Tesla probably will reach Level 4 autonomy in 2022. That would be an enormous milestone because it represents just one step away from science fiction — Level 5 autonomy requires no human driver at all.
Comparatively, Level 3 allows drivers to briefly take their attention off the road, but they must always be ready to engage. Level 3 vehicles can autonomously control the vehicle, but only on predetermined routes, according to Tesmanian. With the achievement of Level 4, the vehicle will be able to assume all driving duties. Drivers would be able to turn control over to the vehicle at any time and take it back any time they wanted.
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