New Opportunities in Automotive Electronics – Innovations from Tesla’s Cybertruck

Tesla launched its new electric vehicle (EV) in November 2019, the Cybertruck, which has several new features, such as the sharp-edged design, the strip-shaped headlights, and the long car length. However, two innovations have also been observed from the perspective of technology, including e-mirrors and solar panels that will bring new opportunities in automotive electronics.

E-mirror will driver the usage of the high-resolution camera as well as increase the unit content of camera per car.

E-mirrors are not new, but still quite rare. The Audi E-Tron has them fitted as standard to the highest trim level and Honda is planning them for its Honda E electric car. But they have seen limited adoption in commercial vehicles, since removing physical side mirrors is illegal in some countries. Also, e-mirror replacing side mirrors will take some getting used to, depending on how the screens are positioned. This re-learning may increase driver reaction time or otherwise cause a distraction. However, this is likely less of a problem for Tesla owners, as their acceptance of inventions tends to be high.

In terms of components, e-mirrors will either need to increase the number of cameras or to improve the resolution of existing cameras. Tesla currently has a total of eight cameras. In addition to being used as an image source for autonomous driving, they can be used as a driving recorder (Sentry Mode). However, the resolution of Tesla’s existing cameras is low. Tesla is bound to improve the resolution or add new cameras to meet the requirements for e-mirrors.

The demand for solar panels on electric vehicles will increase the usage of the power semiconductor device.

Solar panels are often used as electricity generators in power plants or on the roof of houses. Tesla has commercialized solar panels and storage batteries for use in houses and to charge Tesla cars. Tesla now plans to use solar cells on its new EV to slightly increase its mileage. Tesla is not the first car maker to commercialize solar panels. Some startups, such as Lightyear from the Netherlands and Sono Motors from Germany, as well as automotive OEMs, such as Toyota Motor and Hyundai Motor, are all planning to launch electric or hybrid vehicles with solar panels.

Tesla used to regard using solar panels in cars as inefficient. However, the decreasing cost of solar cells, thinner profiles, and improving efficiency have convinced Tesla to try with the Cybertruck. In addition, there are additional use cases with a utility vehicle, such as powering ancillary equipment, where an additional source of power will prove beneficial. Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether Tesla will use solar panels in its other vehicles in the future. However, with the popularity of electric vehicles, other automotive OEMs must consider this a probability.

Brady Wang has more than 20 years working experience in high-technology companies from semiconductor manufacturing to market intelligence, and strategy advisory. Brady’s major coverage in Counterpoint is semiconductors. Prior to joining Counterpoint, Brady Wang worked for Gartner for 11 years. He started his career at TSMC as an engineer for 6 years.

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