On the verge of their fourth-quarter sales, alongside nursing the deficiency of chip shortages, Tesla designed a cutback in one of their steering components for specific models of their cars. The news of this alteration was not instantly disclosed, but it had already affected tens of thousands of cars delivered to Australia, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, and certain areas of Europe. This change was unforeseen as nothing similar had been revealed in the 2021 announcements.
This exclusion of car components was typically a result of the worldwide chip shortages that affected the automobile industry on the whole, and Tesla, clearly, was no exception.
In one of Musk’s announcements, he stated that within a year the world would witness a fully self-driving car whose safety level will be immensely higher than a human. Does getting rid of the electronic control units from their cars not hamper their safety level? Tesla employees confirmed that the exclusion of the steering component would not pose a safety threat since it was a secondary electronic control unit in the car. Musk’s frustration about the chip deficiency was quite evident from one of his tweets – “Oh man, this year has been such a supply chain nightmare & it’s not over!”
Manufacturing glitches are nothing new for Tesla considering the high-tech, advanced model Elon Musk has crafted. The 2019 Shanghai factory actually elevated its profit margins, production pace, and market share beyond North America. But the chip deficiency acted as a hindrance in the working mechanism.
Function of the Eliminated Steering Component
While it may mount the concern of the Tesla lovers, understanding the functionality of the omitted steering component will release some tension. The excluded item was an electronic control unit present in the electronic power-endorsed steering systems that directed the wheel movements on the street. Traditionally, cars would count on a pump, steering rack, and pinion to move their wheels.
Tesla eradicated this function as engineers suggested it to be redundant. This is money-saving for Tesla as well. Moreover, this is not the first time Tesla has emerged in the alteration of their models – the lumbar support from Model 3 and Y was removed to lower the costs.
In fact, we also have the famous General Motors on the track, stating that their implementation of light-duty pick-up trucks was devoid of a fuel management module; this was predominantly caused by the chip shortage issue, as well.
Outlook of Tesla’s Self-driving Cars
Tesla cars are offered in diverse ranges, with the Autopilot function omnipresent in all models. The Full Self-driving or FSD feature can be purchased for $12,000 or $199 monthly in the United States of America. Two of Tesla’s employees stated that it was initially discussed that customers are not apprised about electronic control unit elimination. Tesla employees were concerned about whether this exclusion will affect the FSD feature, but the decision didn’t reach that height at least till the time Tesla launches the ‘level 3’ or hands-free function.
The ‘level 2’ drivers can adequately use the Autopilot and FSD features without the incorporation of the dual steering system. Though the employees have stated that if Tesla launches an advanced FSD feature, the owners might likely have to give it a revamp of a steering rack retrofit from a service center.
Most experts have stated this alteration to be a safe one considering the redundancy it would have caused anyway. However, they have added that moving from dual to single-chip wouldn’t make much difference only after thorough validation. This validation process actually takes up 1,000 hours – four or five months, to be precise. Tesla only concluded the decision within a few weeks and didn’t foster the required attention – claiming this change to be a mere chip-shortage tactic.