In today’s world, we have come to a point where most people know that “EV” stands for electric vehicle. Just as many people knew what “VHS” meant in the ’80s, the average citizen begins to recognize the terms that the geeks have been using for years. Well here’s a new one to help you feel more ahead of the times. “AV” – autonomous vehicle. What’s the difference between an electric vehicle and an autonomous vehicle? As the transportation industry becomes more electrified, the majority of vehicles are now just computers on wheels with a human telling it what to do by giving it input through the steering wheel and pedals. However, many companies are trying to solve one major problem in this equation: how to subtract the human.
Tesla has a master plan which included electric vehicles and self-driving vehicles. Given that they have been moderately successful with these plans, everyone even remotely in the same space is trying to copy them by making their own autonomous electric vehicle. Because this is such a massive opportunity, there are even some companies that are just going after autonomy. Waymo is one of them. Zoox, which Jeff Bezos just acquired is another. Players such as Lucid are pioneering what they call “Dream Drive”. GM has Super Cruise and Ultra Cruise, Rivian is working on Driver+, and Ford uses BlueCriuse. However, the one thing that Tesla has over all of them is data. Billions of miles in fact. As Tesla’s fleet grows the number of miles collected grows at an insane exponential rate that our human brains cannot comprehend. Yes, Waymo and others are also gaining new miles every day, but the rate at which Tesla is far exceeds anything all of those companies combined are doing. It’s like Google’s search engine: do other search engines exist? Yes. Which one is generally the best? Google Search. Why? Because it has the most amount of data and because of that, more people use it and as more people use it, it gets more and more accurate. Could Bing, DuckDuckGo, or Yahoo ever catch up and overtake Google? Yes, but the likelihood of that ever happening is next to impossible.
Elon Musk has talked about the possibility of Tesla licensing the Full Self Driving software to other auto manufacturers, but whether or not they will take him up on that is to be seen. He also said that anyone else could use Tesla’s Supercharging network, but no one else has taken him up on that. However, with the amount of money and different approaches that are being directed towards solving autonomy – we will get there someday, and when that happens, the world will change more than we realize. How much would Amazon pay to have autonomous delivery vehicles that never have to stop for a bathroom break or sleep? What would that change for Walmart and UPS to no longer have to pay for a driver? Maybe that’s part of the reason that multiple companies have ordered a dozen or more of Tesla’s Semi trucks. The cost of maintenance on an EV is a lot less, but the addition of autonomy will be the biggest benefit.
In conclusion, “EV” is a vehicle powered by an electric powertrain and “AV” is a vehicle that can drive itself with no human interaction, but the reality is that these two things are becoming one in the same just as smartphones have also become music players. Full Self Driving is just around the corner. However big that corner is, it will be passed before we realize it.
I grew up loving cars. Basically everything from exotic sports cars to off-road rock crawlers. I loved the adrenaline rush of heart-stopping acceleration, yet I also was enticed by the ability to go anywhere no matter what road did or did not lie ahead. An Audi R8 or a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Two polar opposites. I wanted the speed, but I also wanted off-road exploration capabilities. However, that’s like dropping a pencil and expecting it to fall up – it just doesn’t happen. As Elon Musk has said, “Physics is the law – everything else is a suggestion.” However, has Tesla’s Cybertruck contradicted physics, or did Elon and team use their superpowers to bend physics to their will? It seems like that just may be the case.
As I tried to find a vehicle that fit my needs, I came across the Ford Raptor. The Raptor seemed like the vehicle that enabled my dream of merging those two worlds together – that is until the night of November 21st, 2019. Elon Musk took the stage and unveiled Tesla’s Cybertruck. I have to admit, while I watched this stainless steel triangle emerge from the fog and fire to drive up on stage, I was puzzled. I had never seen anything like it before and I didn’t know if I hated it or loved it. Though as the presentation went on and the specs were shown I began to see my dream vehicle come to life. Being a college student, I didn’t know how I could actually justify buying one, but it was only a $100 deposit, fully refundable, so a few days after the event, I got out my phone and one Apple Pay double-tap later I now was a Cybertruck reservation holder.
While I have thought so much about this vehicle since those events unfolded, I have only gotten more excited to actually own a Cybertruck. I would even argue that the Cybertruck will be the best, most capable, and most useful vehicle for just about anyone. The main things that got me so excited were having incredible durability, speed, off-road capabilities, and all the useful features of a truck.
Tesla’s Cybertruck will be made from 30x cold-rolled stainless steel. This steel is the same steel that SpaceX is using for their Starship – the one that will go to Mars. As one Youtube commenter put it: “This truck is literally capable of orbital re-entry”. That stainless steel is also bulletproof to a 9mm handgun. When Jay Leno asked why is that necessary, Elon responded “Because it’s badass, do you want your truck to be bulletproof or not?” While some truck manufacturer’s slogan is literally “Built tough”, the Cybertruck is an actual tough vehicle. As well, stainless steel does not rust and is harder to scratch. This seems like the perfect truck for harsh environments and places like construction worksites. Now you’ll be able to go off-roading with a little more peace of mind and not have to worry about minor dents, dings, and scratches.
When I pre-ordered a Cybertruck I thought I’d get the dual-motor version because I wasn’t sure if I’d be in a financial place to afford the tri-motor version. However, after thinking about my need for speed. I logged onto my Tesla account and changed my reservation to the tri-motor. Picture this: You’re in Moab, Utah and an Audi R8 pulls up next to you at a stoplight. The R8 is revving its engine, challenging you to race. 3,2,1, the green light illuminates and off you go leaving the R8 in the red rock dust. Finally, the R8 catches up to you at the next light only to watch you pull off the road and go rock climbing with the Jeeps.
There is a serious passion and community around Jeeps and off-roading and I love it. The freedom of being able to go literally wherever has always called to me. I love outdoor adventure and many times, the best places I’ve been don’t have a road to get me there. There are many modifications that can be made to a Jeep, lots of people love to install a lift kit for more ground clearance. However, the problem is that a lift kit is a pretty permanent modification as it takes hours to install or take off. A stock Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has a ground clearance of 10.8 inches. The Cybertruck will come with an adaptive air suspension which will allow you to lift and lower your vehicle on demand. The Cybertruck is able to raise up to have 16 inches of ground clearance which will really come in handy when climbing over rough terrain. As mentioned before, the durability of this vehicle will also greatly increase its off-road readiness. While I do love taking the top off of a Jeep along with the doors, the glass roof will give quite an amazing view as well.
There is a reason that the Ford F-150 is America’s best-selling vehicle for the past four decades. Trucks can be really useful. Having a 6.5-foot bed will really come in handy when moving furniture or needing to haul something. Tesla also states that the Cybertruck will be able to tow 14,000 pounds. America’s best-selling vehicle can only tow up to just over 11,000 lbs. Because the Cybertruck is electric it also has a lot more open space to store other things in places that are not normally open in regular internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks. Many Tesla owners love the frunk (front trunk) and how useful it is. Ford saw that and is also putting a frunk in their F-150 Lightning. The Cybertruck will have a frunk plus another storage compartment under the lengthy bed. Along with that bed, a built-in tonneau cover will be a very nice addition so that you can keep whatever you want in the bed of the truck and not have to worry about someone getting curious and stealing something out of the back of your truck. The Cybertruck will also be a very heavy vehicle because of its structural battery pack that runs underneath the length of the truck. The benefit of this is that when roads are covered in snow, you won’t have to worry as much about fishtailing. Gone are the days of throwing bags of sand in the bed so you don’t do a 180 when trying to merge onto the freeway.
The Cybertruck will be perfect for just about anyone. It perfectly blends capability and fun. Work hard, play hard. The Cybertruck will give America’s best-selling truck a run for its money, and the auto manufacturers know this. That is why Ford is building the lightning, GM is reviving the Hummer, Amazon bought a massive stake in Rivian, and Ram just announced they will be debuting electric models in the coming years. It’s pretty obvious the direction the market is heading, but for the reasons listed above, the Cybertruck will be a much superior product than the “competition”.