Dozens Of Tesla Model 3s And Model Ys Just Landed In Chile

By automotive-mag.com 7 Min Read

South America has welcomed Chinese-made electric cars with open arms. Like the U.S., countries like Brazil and Chile don’t have decades-old automotive industrial bases to protect and need affordable EVs to meet their climate goals. And they’re not as divided as the U.S. regarding EVs. Meanwhile, folks over at Tesla haven’t been sitting back watching Chinese EVs flood South America. The U.S. automaker is gearing up to tackle them head-on.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily round-up of key events shaping up the rapidly expanding EV industry. Today, we’re discussing Tesla’s entry into Chile with the Model 3 and the Model Y, the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation into a fatal crash involving a Ford Mustang Mach-E driving using the BlueCruise Level 2 driver assistance system, and Elon Musk’s meeting with the leader of India, the world’s third largest passenger car market.

30%: Tesla Enters Chile

There are many hot takes about Chinese EVs entering the Americas. But the one that I agree with the most is from Tu Le, the managing director of market research and management consulting firm Sino Auto Insights. “If we look at South America, that’s where [Chinese companies] can grow their businesses. So it’s not just we’re entering [South America] to go into North America,” Le told me in an interview last month. “They see per capita incomes increasing in Latin America and South America as well,” he said.

That’s precisely what’s happening in the continent. BYD was the best-selling EV brand in Brazil in 2023, and others like JAC, Chery and Great Wall Motors are also gaining momentum. And now Tesla Chile SpA is gearing up to grab a share of this growing market after establishing base in the capital city of Santiago last year. A massive fleet of Model Ys and refreshed Model 3s were unloaded from a giant cargo ship in Chile yesterday, newly posted videos on X showed.

 

Entering Chile, which has the world’s largest lithium deposits, would open up new avenues for revenue generation for Musk’s company. Tesla has sort of reached a saturation point in countries where the Model 3 and Model Y have been on sale for years. It should also boost healthy competition, offer customers a variety of EVs, and help the country get closer to its goal of converting nearly half of its passenger vehicle sales to electric by 2050.

60%: NTSB To Probe Fatal Mustang Mach-E Crash

Ford Mustang Mach-E GT (2021) put to the test

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a fatal crash involving a Ford Mustang Mach-E and two stationary cars, a Hyundai Elantra, and a Toyota Prius, the agency said in a post on X today.

The fatal crash occurred on the I-95 interstate in Philadelphia, leaving a busy highway section closed for several hours. It’s unclear if the Mustang Mach-E had BlueCruise, a Level 2 driver assistance system similar to Tesla Autopilot, activated during the crash.

 

This is the second investigation involving the Mustang Mach-E. The NTSB initiated the first one after a Mach-E crashed near the I-10 in San Antonio, Texas in February this year.

Reports suggested that the Mach-E collided with a Honda CR-V stopped in the center lane, apparently with no lights on—BlueCruise may not have activated Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) due to poor visibility.

Ford advertises BlueCruise as a “hands-free highway driving feature,” with more than 130,000 miles of North American roads mapped out—meaning the system covers “97% of controlled-access highways” in the U.S. and Canada.

As we’ve seen with investigations into Tesla’s Autopilot and Full-Self Driving systems, they don’t warrant drivers’ inattentiveness. They’re Level 2 systems, which by definition means constant driver supervision and readiness to take over at all times.

While these systems can perform maneuvers like lane change, lane centering, and even steering around curves, they probably work the best when the driver is fully aware, leaving enough distance for reaction times and corrective measures should anything happen. Remember that the utopian self-driving world that many automakers are advertising just isn’t there yet.

It might also be worth noting that Consumers Reports ranked BlueCruise at the top in its ADAS safety systems rankings. It fared better than GM’s Super Cruise, Toyota’s Safety Sense and far higher than Tesla’s Autopilot.

90%: Elon Musk To Announce India Investments Soon 

Elon Musk White House

Tesla’s entry into India, the world’s third-largest passenger car market, has been grabbing headlines for a few months now. Reports emerged last week of Tesla sending a team to scout locations for a new gigafactory in India.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Musk is expected to announce an investment and a new factory on April 22. Musk also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year in New York City on the sidelines of the PM’s pomp and pageantry-filled state visit to the U.S.—heavily courted by President Biden as the U.S. looks to establish a “China plus one” policy for manufacturing and also have a tactical ally in the region to counter military saber-rattling from the PRC.

100%: Would Overseas Markets Help Tesla Boost Its Sales?

from left: Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model S

Tesla’s first-quarter sales performance was largely underwhelming. It disappointed Wall Street as share prices plummeted before rallying on the back of Musk’s announcement of the Tesla Robotaxi reveal in August this year.

But as Tesla’s growth plateaus in countries where it has posted strong results quarter after quarter, can entry into new markets like Chile and India help the brand revive its grip over the EV industry? 

Of course, Tesla would need to sell a lot more EVs than just this initial shipment to have any notable impact on its profits and quarterly numbers. But hey, it’s a start, and it seems like a good move to me. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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