Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk does things differently than the heads of other car manufacturers. Case in point, he just made a quick European tour with stops in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway where he, along with CTO JB Straubel, held lengthy question and answer sessions with Tesla owners, reservation holders and other interested parties.
Now, we recognize that the California company has a significantly smaller customer base than traditional automakers, making these sorts of events more logistically easy (see also: Fisker). Still, the effort is a refreshing change from scripted press conferences, and allows Tesloids to voice their concerns and criticisms to the exact person with whom the buck stops. It's also good for Tesla, in that it gives new ideas for future improvements a chance to reach the ears of those best placed to implement them. We out here in the wider world like these sessions because they give us a bit of extra insight into the firm's progress and future plans.
So what are some of the things we can expect from the electric automaker in the coming months and years?
- Version 6.0 software is a few weeks away and includes real-time traffic information as well as increased suspension functionality, like lowering and heightening on command.
- Supercharger production is maxed out and installs are happening at a rate of around five per week.
- Superchargers will soon pump power at an impressive 135 kW rate, but will plateau there.
- An AWD Model S will be coming, perhaps around same time as the Model X.
- Bigger battery pack options may arrive as soon as next year.
- The new giga-factory for batteries could bring costs down by at least 30 percent, ideally 40 percent and will produce about 30 gigawatt-hours worth per year.
- After ramp up, volume production of Model X is expected to begin around April 2015.
- To improve comfort, there will be a seat modification available in the near term, and a different seat option available in a year (or so).
- Battery swapping between Los Angeles and San Francisco should be online in a few months.
- The company has analyzed energy usage in production process and claims energy payback happens in less than 10,000 miles. May release white paper on this soon.