Tesla Is ‘Under-Selling’ Model 3 Safety Features, Analyst Claims

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and his team have been citing safety as a key competitive advantage for Tesla for some time, but the automaker might be downplaying its Model 3 safety features, according to an analyst.

“Tesla may be downplaying the role of the all-new hardware architecture of the Model 3 in terms of improved occupant and pedestrian safety to avoid cannibalization of demand of the other models (i.e. Model S and X) that do not have the new hardware architecture,” Adam Jonas, lead auto analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a report yesterday.

However, a Tesla blog post from November previously stated that all cars produced at its Fremont, Calif.-based factory will come equipped with the same updated hardware. Musk himself, through Twitter, wrote on March 24, “Am noticing that many people think Model 3 is the ‘next version’ of a Tesla, like iPhone 2 vs 3. This is not true,” and added in another tweet, “Model 3 is just a smaller, more affordable version of Model S w[ith] less range & power & fewer features. Model S has more advanced technology.”

As to how Jonas came to the conclusion that Tesla is now downplaying the safety of the Model 3 was not immediately clear.

Jonas and Tesla did not respond for comment by press time.

“Look for safety to be the ‘ah-hah!’ moment for this car due to the launch this year,” Jonas previously said in a report.

The Autopilot 8.1 update includes an increase of the speed limit of the Autosteer feature to 80 miles per hour (128 kilometers per hour) — up from 55 mph, as well as the Summon feature, which is a driver assist system and not a self-driving car. The Summon feature allows Tesla owners to move their vehicle in and out of parking spaces without anyone in the car. Auto Lane Change is also included in the update and allows a driver to initiate a lane change by using the turn signal when Autosteer is activated.

The November blog post also stated that the Autopilot update would include eight cameras, 12 “ultrasonic sensors,” and a “forward-facing radar with enhanced processing” that would provide the car with an abundance of additional data. To process all of this data, the post mentioned that the sensors would be analyzed by a liquid cooled Nvidia supercomputer that is 40 times more powerful than the original Autopilot system.

Separately, Tesla’s valuation surpassed Ford yesterday — the No. 2 automaker in the U.S. after General Motors Co. Tesla also surpassed GM’s market cap today, becoming America’s most valuable car company with a market capitalization of $52 billion, per a report, while GM’s market cap is around $48.7 billion.

Those interested in learning more about the evolution of the transportation industry should join us at the second annual Auto Finance Innovation 2017 conference, May 17-18 at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. Visit www.autofinanceinnovation.com and to learn more.

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