A document Tesla submitted to the Federal Communications Commission highlighting the company’s plans to reintroduce radar to its EVs in mid-January was shared online. It is not clear if the company will use LiDAR for the autonomous driving suite or for the cabin. What is evident from the filing is that it would be a high-definition radar.
The disclosure is coming on the heels of rising scrutiny over the capability and safety of Tesla’s standard advanced driver assistance system called Autopilot as well as the optional upgraded product it calls “Full Self-Driving” worth $15,000.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier promised that the company would find a definitive solution to full self-driving before the end of 2022. For a long time, the luxury EV maker claimed it could achieve fully autonomous driving using the “vision only” strategy.
Subsequently, the company ditched radar and LiDAR as well as the ultrasonic parking sensors from its cars in favor of cameras and a deep neural network to quickly scan the EV’s environment and provide real-time response.
The ultrasonic sensors measure distance using ultrasonic waves. They are used to support anti-collision safety systems, especially when parking vehicles. Musk seems to be backtracking on his promise by admitting the problem will take a longer time to solve.
What type of radar will Tesla bring back?
Back in June, Tesla submitted a new “high-resolution radar” device codenamed 1541584 to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for testing and onward approval for sale and use in the United States. On 7 December 2022, Tesla filed an extension for the FCC to keep the details of the device secret for 60 more days.
Since the emergence of that information, there has been public scrutiny from enthusiasts to know what type of radar Tesla wants to bring back. However, it is becoming clearer that the type of radar Tesla hopes to market next year is the one the FCC allocates for ADAS use, according to Ram Machness, the chief business officer at Arbe Robotics.
In the June filing, Tesla described the new radar as “76-77 GHz Automotive Radar” Speaking to TechCrunch, Steven Hong, the VP and general manager of radar technology at Ambarella, a semiconductor company, said, “Judging from the operation frequency and mechanical design of the sensors in Tesla’s FCC filing, it appears the radar will be used for ADAS applications”.
Hong noted that although the performance of this ‘edge’ radar sensor will be limited, it will still be a positive development for the company and will be a great addition to improve performance and safety.
Some EVs made by Chinese automakers like that of Lotus Eletre have an internal radar that has the ability to detect the presence of a child or dog in the car and adjust the air conditioner accordingly. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case with the Tesla FCC filing.
Tesla’s new radar will likely debut with the upcoming EVs which will feature the next-gen Hardware 4.0 autonomous driving kit. These features may come with the redesigned Model 3 and the Cybertruck, which will both hit the market in 2023.
Tesla moves into the Thailand market
For a long time, the Thailand market has been dominated by vehicles from Chinese and Japanese manufacturers. However, Tesla wants that to change. On Wednesday 7 December 2022, Tesla launched 2 EV models (Model 3 and Model Y) in Thailand. This marks the luxury EV brand’s first foray into the regional auto hub. For Tesla, the goal is simply to rival those that have been there.
The company staged a glamorous showcase of its plans at Bangkok’s Siam Paragon mall. The order books are open online with the company targeting to start fulfilling orders in the first quarter of 2023.
This move is coming after the Thailand government announced plans to increase EV production and adoption including the offering of subsidies and tax cuts. The government cut import tax on EVs from 8% to 2% this year for foreign automakers that plan to begin producing locally within a stipulated time frame.
The Southeast Asia market has more than 600 million consumers and is gradually becoming a target for automakers looking for ways to expand their sales, particularly EVs. According to Tesla, the offerings for the Thailand market will come with the newest satellite navigation systems and over-the-air (OTA) software updates possibility.
Tesla will be selling the Model 3 Long Range and Performance models as well as three versions of the Model Y. The company said this will “meet the specific demands of the EV lifestyle for every Thai driver”. The prices will range from 1.76 million Thai baht to 2.5 million baht (approx. $50,000 to $71,000).
To support its brand adoption in Thailand, Tesla is planning to open its first Service Center and Supercharger station in Thailand by March 2023. The company also plans to add a minimum of 10 set up in the country before the end of 2023.
Many of those who attended the launch event could not hide their surprise at the entry price of the Tesla models introduced in the Thai market. Wit Wongngamdee attended the event with his wife and plans to order one of the models.
Speaking to Associated Press, he said “the price is much lower than we expected. As far as the after-sale service concerns”. Apichat Prasitnarit, another attendee and potential buyer echoed the same sentiments.
Thailand is the fourth-largest car assembly and export hub in Asia for companies like Honda Motor Co Ltd and Toyota Motor Corp. Between 1.5 million and 2 million vehicles are produced in the country annually and about half of them are exported.
While ICE-powered vehicles still dominate the market, the adoption of EVs is slowly gaining momentum. In the first 10 months of 2022, about 7,000 new all-electric vehicles were registered, according to Thailand Automotive Institute. This is a leap from the 2,000 recorded in the previous year.