Comments On Tesla’s Full Self-Driving

Updated on

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing the 60 Minutes segment on Steve Jobs; Ford F-150 Lightning; Tesla starts using in-car camera; comments on FSD; Apple and the end of the car as we know it; embattled Chinese property tycoon turns to electric cars. Cue $87 billion valuation.

Get The Full Warren Buffett Series in PDF

Get the entire 10-part series on Warren Buffett in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues

Q1 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

60 Minutes Segment On Steve Jobs

1) A fascinating 2011 28-minute 60 Minutes segment on Steve Jobs. So many parallels (both positive and negative) with Elon Musk

Ford F-150 Lightning

2) The first review I’ve watched of the new Ford F-150 Lightning, which looks AMAZING!

Tesla Starts Using In-Car Camera

3) Better late than never: Tesla starts using in-car camera for Autopilot driver monitoring. Excerpt:

Tesla is starting to use the camera above the rear-view mirror in the Model 3 and Model Y to help make sure people pay attention to the road while using Autopilot, the company’s advanced driver assistance system.

Until now, the main way Tesla’s cars measure driver attention is through torque sensors in the steering wheel that look for resistance — a crude way of ensuring drivers keep their hands on the wheel. If it doesn’t register enough feedback, the car performs a series of escalating visual and audible warnings.

The change comes after regulators and safety experts spent years begging Tesla to add better driver monitoring to its cars. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has even admitted that crashes involving Autopilot stem from complacency. But he previously rejected his own engineers’ calls to add more robust driver monitoring to the company’s cars. Musk said at the time that the tech was “ineffective.” Companies like General Motors and Ford currently sell cars with camera-based eye-tracking systems that are meant to make sure drivers pay attention while using hands-free driving features.

Comments On Full Self-Driving

4) A friend’s comments:

Every 6 or so months, Elon Musk says that "full self-driving" is only 3-6 months away.  It started no later than October 2016 with his promise that every Tesla now has Level 5 hardware.  It's an ongoing fraud of the highest order.

Fact check:  Other automakers now have "hands off" autonomy (which isn't "eyes off") so it's somewhere between Level 2 and Level 3 (eyes off).  Tesla is strictly Level 2 -- no "hands off" of any kind.  That puts Tesla LAST among automakers.

Tesla hasn't even FILED to start autonomous testing with the state of California, and after initially logging a small number of test miles in 2016 and 2017, it stopped altogether.  Tesla has been logging ZERO autonomous test miles with the state of California in recent years.

Apple And The End Of The Car As We Know It

5) From the WSJ: Apple and the End of the Car as We Know It. Excerpt:

No one inside Apple is saying exactly what its plans are, but the company has been contemplating a role in autos for years, spending huge sums on hiring hundreds, then eliminating their roles when its priorities change, and almost as quickly hiring other engineers with similar skill sets, then firing yet more engineers, all to realize a still-mysterious ultimate vision.

The company also recently approached auto makers including Hyundai about a potential manufacturing partnership, then saw talks fizzle. It’s just as likely Apple is, as usual, experimenting until or unless it hits on something it thinks it can do better than anyone else.

“We have seen enough echoes in the supply chain that we know Apple is really looking into every detail of car engineering and car manufacturing,” says Peter Fintl, director of technology and innovation for Capgemini Engineering Germany, part of a multinational that works with dozens of auto makers and parts manufacturers. “But nobody knows if what Apple creates will be a car or a tech platform or a mobility service,” he adds.

Embattled Chinese Property Tycoon Turns to Electric Cars

6) What a crock! Embattled Chinese Property Tycoon Turns to Electric Cars. Cue $87 Billion Valuation. Excerpt:

Guests at a private August dinner hosted by billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma were intrigued by a fellow diner who introduced himself as a humble car salesman.

It was Xu Jiayin, better known as the chairman of China Evergrande Group, the country’s biggest real-estate developer and one of China’s most indebted companies. At the time of the dinner Evergrande was just weeks away from a potentially devastating showdown with its creditors.

If he was feeling desperate, Mr. Xu didn’t show it, according to one of the people present at the meal at one of Mr. Ma’s houses in Hangzhou, where Mr. Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is based. He was pitching his most audacious venture to date: a new electric-vehicle company that aims, according to its own public statements, to surpass Tesla Inc. and others in becoming the world’s “largest and most powerful” EV maker by 2025.