Exciting times for transport innovation – Tesla

A Tesla Model S electric car on display at a Beijing show. (Mark Schiefelbein, AP)
A Tesla Model S electric car on display at a Beijing show. (Mark Schiefelbein, AP)

Leipzig – There are three innovation trends that are making for exciting times in transport innovation, according to Jeffrey Brian Straubel, chief technical officer of Tesla Motors.

“Tesla wants to end up at the top of the entire transport sector eventually. That is why these are the most exciting times to be in innovation in the transport industry,” he said at the global summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF) taking place in Leipzig, Germany this week.

The first innovation trend he says is currently being pushed is changes in electric propulsion technology. He foresees that eventually it will reach across the whole transport industry from passenger transport to freight trucks and ultimately even aviation.

Efficient way

In this regard he regards the recycling potential of batteries in the electric car sector and the potential of creating higher energy density of batteries to reach the level of automotive performance as important for Tesla.

The second trend he regards as highly relevant at the moment for the industry is increasing environmental pressures. He emphasised that Tesla was founded mainly due to these two trends of changes in electric propulsion and environmental issues.

“Environmental issues will continue to increase. With e-mobility we can create a pull to excite the public, while at the same time solving environmental concerns – and we are aiming to do this at an increasingly affordable and efficient way,” said Straubel.

The third trend he pointed to is the fast pace of innovation in autonomous technology, which he says is at a pace of changes measured in months and not years anymore.

Because this area is regarded as so important, Tesla has a large team dedicated to working on improvements regarding sensors for autonomous vehicle cameras and related software.

“The autonomous transport trend is irreversible and one can expect full autonomy in years and not decades anymore,” said Straubel. He emphasised, though, that this process will mainly be driven by safety aspects.

“Autonomous systems have been shown to be safer than a human and as more and more data becomes available and more improvements are made, we should see more and more ease in the adopting thereof.”

Setting of standards

In his view, growth in the autonomous transport sector has caused thousands of new start-up companies working on transport technology to be created. This is further enhancing the creation of what he calls an autonomy eco system.

He said Tesla has already received about 400 000 reservations after the launch of its latest model recently.

“This shows the draw from the public is there and our future vision is to have all vehicles going electric. We still find many companies dismissing our view about electrification, but it is becoming more acceptable and understood,” said Straubel.

“We are working with regulators regarding the setting of standards. We urge regulators to look at what consumers want and to take a first step in creating a road map for the way forward. There should be ways to find greater unity of standards across various regions in the world.”

 - Fin24 is a guest of the International Transport Forum at its global summit in Leipzig.

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