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Elon Musk Clarifies the Presence of Radar in Tesla Model Y Vehicles in China

Key Points

  • 📡 Elon Musk clarified Tesla’s use of radar in its all-electric vehicles during the Q3 2023 earnings call.
  • 🚗 Tesla is testing a custom-designed radar in the Model S and Model X, but there are no plans to use it in the Model 3 and Model Y.
  • 🇨🇳 Reports from China suggested that the Model Y had radar as an option, but Musk denied this for Chinese-made Model Ys.
  • 📊 The effectiveness of radar depends on its ability to enable radar-only actions, like radar-only braking.
  • 🔍 Tesla-designed radar is high-resolution but its usefulness is still being evaluated.
  • 🤖 Musk did not directly deny the option to add radar to Model 3 and Model Y in the future.

During the recently held Q3 2023 earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk provided some explanation about the company’s speculated use of radar in its all-electric vehicles. While Musk admitted that Tesla is testing a custom-designed radar in the Model S and Model X, he noted that there are no plans to use such a component in the Model 3 and Model Y. 

A few days ago, reports from China emerged indicating that Tesla had filed for a new Model Y variant in the country. Regulatory filings from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) suggested that the Model Y had radar as an option. This brought speculations that Tesla may be bringing back radar for its best-selling all-electric crossover

It was then no surprise that during the Q3 earnings call, Canaccord Genuity analyst George Gianarikas inquired if Tesla was indeed including radar as an option in its Model Ys in China. Elon Musk’s response was quick. As per the CEO, Tesla has not included radar in the Model Y in China, though a custom-designed radar unit is being tested in the Model S and Model X. 

“We’ve not included radar. We have radar — a Tesla-designed radar as an experiment in Model S and X. That’s it. We’ll see whether that experiment is worth it, but there are no plans to integrate radar into 3 or Y,” Musk said.

The CEO noted that radar only really makes sense if it could pave the way for actions that are only based on radar data, such as radar-only braking. Otherwise, Musk noted that a disambiguation problem would usually emerge between vision and radar. Thus, Musk noted that Tesla is still evaluating if its custom-designed radar could indeed be useful. 

“In order for the radar to be effective, you have to be able to do radar-only braking. You have to do actions that are radar-only. Otherwise, you get this disambiguation problem between vision and radar. That’s why we actually turned off the radar in cars historically that we had. All (Model) 3 and Y used to have radar, but we turned it off because the radar actually generated more noise than signal. Now, the Tesla-designed radar is a high-resolution radar that has some potential to be useful, but the jury is still very much out on whether that is in fact the case,” Musk said. 

While Musk’s comments could be seen as a direct denial of the recent reports from China, a closer look at the CEO’s statements would suggest that he simply denied that radar was being equipped on Giga Shanghai-made Model Ys today. While Musk noted that there are no current plans to integrate radar into the Model 3 and Model Y, he did not directly deny the presence of the option to add radar to the vehicles sometime in the future.

Check out our coverage of Tesla’s Q3 2023 Update Letter here

Check out our Q3 earnings call Live Blog, which contains our live coverage of the event, here

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