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Yet again, Elon Musk is setting lofty goals for Tesla, claiming the upstart EV automaker’s models will have a range of roughly 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) as well as full autonomous, self-driving technology by 2020.
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk made the prediction about the range of the carmaker’s all-electric models in an interview on Danish television last week. However, that assertion comes with a caveat: That range might not be achievable in real-world driving.
The brand’s current flagship model, the Model S P85D, recently traveled 452.8 miles on a single charge — at 24.2 mph. Presumably, the 745-mile range would only be achievable at a similar slow-and-steady pace. Still, though, it represents a large leap forward for battery tech.
This range increase will be due in large part to the new batteries produced at Tesla’s planned Gigafactories. The factories will mass-produce lithium-ion batteries with a new chemical compound in several southwestern states that would not only extend vehicle range but also significantly cut production costs.
Elon’s latest assertion comes around the same time a Jefferies analyst’s prediction that the company’s leaps in battery technology, thanks to the Gigafactories, would make a $35,000, mass-market Model 3 financial feasible by 2020 as well.
While increased range might well be feasible in five years, fully autonomous vehicles might not be. Tesla is in the midst of beta testing its self-driving Autopilot systems, which it aims to partially roll out in a few months.
The first feature expected to hit the market will be autonomous passing. The leap from automated steering to full-on self-driving cars is a large one, however. There will be many hurdles facing the tech, including the limited view of sensors mounted in the grills and windshields of vehicles, as well as — and perhaps most importantly — legislation.
It’s worth noting that though Tesla and Musk reap tons of positive press over self-driving tech claims, companies like Honda already sell autonomous steering — called Lane Keep Assist — in mass-market cars like the CR-V.
Musk smartly points out that, though the self-driving tech might be ready within a few years, state and federal laws might take a few more years to catch up.
Whether Tesla will be able to deliver on these claims in the proposed timeframe will have to be seen. After all, the company’s crossover SUV, the Model X, which is slated to unveil Tuesday, is two years behind schedule. And the rollout for the mass-market Model 3 is on a similar delayed trajectory.
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