Elon Musk promises new features and upgrades are coming to Tesla

Business

Tesla’s chief has pledged to make a pick-up truck as part of future plans for the electric vehicle-maker.

Elon Musk made the promise on Twitter after asking his followers for suggestions about how the firm could improve.

He said the open-backed truck would follow the Model Y – a yet-to-be detailed car, which is expected to be based on its Model 3 sedan.

But experts note Tesla has suffered repeated delivery delays.

That has led some to question whether the loss-making company can meet its existing commitments – which also include a forthcoming articulated lorry and sports car.

Mr Musk also made several promises about new features Tesla intends to add to its existing vehicles, including intelligent windscreen wipers.

Pick-up trucks are particularly popular in the US, with sales by the three leading manufacturers currently totalling about $90bn (£67bn) a year, according to data from Morningstar Equity Research.

Demand for the trucks has also risen over the past 12 months, despite a drop for other types of “light vehicle”.

Mr Musk had previously hinted at his plans when an image showing an obscured pick-up was briefly shown being carried on the back of its Semi lorry at a press conference in November.

 

Electric pickup truck

One Twitter user told Musk that a Tesla pickup truck is needed. Musk responded by saying that he promises Tesla will “make a pickup truck right after Model Y.”

Musk is “dying to build it,” he tweeted.

When asked if the pickup would be comparable in size to Ford’s F-150 line of trucks, Musk said it would have a “similar total size.” He added that the Tesla truck may be slightly bigger, saying he wants it to account “for a really game changing” feature.

The other vehicle mentioned, the Model Y, is a crossover that Musk has hinted at both on Twitter and on a Tesla conference call earlier this year. Musk said in May that the Model Y would be built “using substantial carryover from [the Model] 3 in order to bring it to market faster.”

The second version of Autopilot

Users asked for more information about the second version of Autopilot — the self-driving feature standard on all Tesla vehicles. Musk said the new software is “going through exhaustive testing” and said Tesla is working on features such as recognizing road signs.

Musk apologized for the delay while saying Tesla has “the most advanced AI neural net of any consumer product by far.”

“The results are blowing me away,” Musk said.

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Upgraded navigation software

Improved navigation software was top of the wish list for another Tesla owner, who said that relying on their phone for accurate travel times “is both painful for me and embarrassing when others are in the car.” Musk responded saying that “vastly” upgraded navigation software is coming soon.

Onboard and exterior camera upgrades

Making further use of the cameras on each Tesla was another request, with one user asking for the ability to turn all eight exterior cameras into dashcams — to continuously record the different angles simultaneously. Another user wants the camera to begin recording if someone forces entry into the car, and Musk acknowledged the request.

Location alerts for the family

Angel investor Jason Calacanis suggested a “family arriving home alert,” using a vehicle’s navigation system presets to tell others when the vehicle would be returning to a designated home location — to which Musk said “sure.”

Major browser upgrades

Others asked for updates to the Model S browser, such as a night mode and the option to open mobile versions of websites. Musk said that the existing browser is “terrible” but that “major browser upgrades” are coming “to all cars in a few months.”

Added luxury features

A request for new Tesla features — music that quiets automatically when the doors all open, ambient lighting and disco mode — was met with Musk saying he would do all of them, especially since the disco mode “sounds like good, cheesy fun.”

Another person asked about further remote controls, such as turning on a Tesla’s heated features via the mobile app. Musk says those features “should be in the next update.”

Smart windshield wipers

Windshield wipers that automatically adjust to the amount of rain? Musk says that feature is “coming very soon” as part of a rain sensor in the next version of Autopilot.

Software connectivity updates

A Twitter user said his Tesla’s Bluetooth feature “steals calls from the house” when his wife walks by the garage with a Tesla key, adding that it was “also annoying all the time for audio books.” Musk briskly responded, saying “done.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-42493008