Musk, alongside several executives, met with Trump on Monday (23 January) as the President outlined his ideates for the US manufacturing sectors. Despite forming different views on climate and energy, both seem to agree on an indigenous manufacturing ethos, which Tesla has again updated this week.

Firstly, Tesla announced that its Enhanced Autopilot feature – autonomous technology that allows for traffic-aware cruise control – has been rolled-out to all vehicles fitted with second-generation Autopilot hardware. These vehicles, known as HW2 models, include Model S and X units and will be updated via wireless delivery to purchased vehicles already in circulation.

The available semi-autonomous features allow the vehicle to use Autosteer on roads with visible markings, although this is limited to 45mph. Traffic-aware cruise control makes small changes to driving speed up to 75mph, while automatic lane changing in slow moving traffic will also be available. Collisions control systems will be introduced, which warn the driving of potential crashes through audio and visual alerts.

Tesla’s update comes as rivals to the EV crown Nissan, revealed that government officials and technology experts will trial autonomous vehicles across the streets of London. Based around transportation to and from Nissan’s London office, Nissan’s LEAF and Qashqai models will start the trials in February – the first time a trial has taken place in Europe.

Energy storage

Back to Tesla, and the second milestone is that of the quiet revelation that construction has been completed on the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage station. Although it is yet to officially launch, the 80 MWh Mira Loma energy storage substation is believed to have gone online in late December.

The Los Angeles-based station was announced in September, and has been fitted with numerous Powerpack systems from Tesla. It is estimated that the system will hold enough energy to power more than 2,500 households for one day, or to charge around 1,000 Tesla vehicles.

Finally, Tesla also provided a drone-assisted update to the construction process of its $5bn (£3.8bn) Gigafactory, out in the Nevada desert. Tesla and Panasonic have already begun mass production of a new battery cell that will be used in Tesla’s energy storage products and upcoming Model 3, even though the site isn’t 100% constructed or operational.

Filmed in December, the footage shows the current state of the Gigafactory, which is still only 30% complete. Once completed, the Gigafactory will cover 5.8 million sq.ft, but for now Musk and co will have to settle for the “modest” 1.9 million sq.ft of operational space it has to work with.

Matt Mace

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