Car Industry

Tesla's Q3 earnings call reveal big plans for Autopilot and more

Autopilot is slated to get a huge boost in processing power, and Model 3 is going abroad.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Well, it's that time again when we gather around our computers and listen to Tesla's quarterly earnings call. This time, the big news was that Tesla, against great odds, managed to turn a profit. There were a few more interesting tidbits mentioned during Wednesday's call that bear further discussion, so strap in, because here we go.

The biggest news, arguably, came from the Autopilot team. The company anticipates that it will begin offering a new Autopilot computer in the first half of 2019 that is vastly more capable than the unit currently shipping with cars. This will facilitate the much-hyped Navigate on Autopilot feature that would allow the vehicle to initiate lane changes (with driver confirmation), take freeway exits and more to reach a destination with minimal driver involvement.

Unsurprisingly, most of the Q3 earnings call had to do with Model 3 and its effect on Tesla's bottom line, only this time it was good news.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The more powerful Autopilot computer will allow Tesla's engineers to run more robust and advanced neural networks that would previously have been too taxing for the hardware, and this is key to being able to offer Tesla customers full self-driving capability.

Tesla stopped promoting the availability of its "Full-self driving capability" opt-in because of the confusion it caused during sales, but it's still available as an off-menu option, and interestingly, Tesla will be able to enable Autopilot Hardware 2 cars to have this capability with a 30-minute hardware change at a Tesla dealer.

Elon Musk envisions a future where fleets of fully autonomous Teslas provide ride-hailing services to customers in direct competition with companies like Uber and Lyft. In this scenario, customers would be able to task their car to be a part of the Tesla-run fleet while they weren't using it and Tesla would likely take a percentage of the ride fee generated by the vehicles.

During the Q&A portion of the call, Musk confirmed that Model 3 would be offered in Europe starting in Q1 of 2019 and the Asia-Pacific region in Q2. He stressed that while Model 3 -- and eventually Model Y -- would be built in the regions in which they were to be sold, Models S and X would continue to be made solely in Fremont. Finally, also on the Model Y front, Musk stated that he had just approved the prototype for production and that we would see it in 2024.