What to expect from Tesla in 2022

Tesla Model S Plaid displayed at the reveal event
(Image credit: Tesla)

It's been a busy past 12 months for Tesla, and not all of it good. 

2021 did see the launch of the performance-centric Tesla Model S and Model X Plaid, a new Full Self Driving Autopilot subscription, record profits and even more great stuff. 

The year also saw price hikes, supply chain issues, delays, recalls, plenty of negative publicity, and more of CEO Elon Musk being his usual controversial self. Still, with 2021 coming to a close, it’s time to stop looking back and start looking forward. So here’s what you can likely expect from Tesla over the course of 2022. 

The launch of the Cybertruck 

Tesla Cybertruck speeds through the desert

(Image credit: Tesla)

With the likes of the Rivian R1T and GMC Hummer EV already hitting the roads, the age of the electric truck is finally upon us. Tesla was set to join them before the end of 2021, but the company’s penchant for delays means the Cybertruck won’t be arriving until sometime in late 2022.

But the Cybertruck isn’t an ordinary electric truck with a big battery and powerful motors. It has those, but it also has an angled steel exoskeleton instead of your usual car frame. The Cybertruck isn’t indestructible, but it does mean it’s a heck of a lot stronger than your normal car. As far as gimmicks go, the ability to withstand 9mm rounds and sledgehammers is a pretty good one.

Whether the Cybertruck is successful or not is another matter, and even Elon Musk has admitted its bonkers design might put people off. Still, with the cancelation of the Tesla Model S Plaid Plus, and further delays to the second generation Tesla Roadster, the Cybertruck looks to be Tesla’s only major launch of 2022. 

A new age of electric hauling? 

tesla semi

(Image credit: Tesla)

Head out on the roads and chances are you’ll see a hefty number of electric cars. More than you're used to at any rate, and a good percentage of those EVs will be made by Tesla. But all those semi trucks hauling stuff across the country are still running on fossil fuels. 2022 looks to be the year Tesla will contribute to changing that.

The Tesla Semi was first announced back in 2017, but so far hasn’t actually hit the roads in any meaningful way. While Elon Musk says that production on the Semi may now slip into 2023, PespiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta is a little more optimistic claiming the company would receive its first Tesla Semi delivery before the end of 2021. The company also got permission to install the high-powered Tesla Megacharger at one of its facilities in Modesto, California.

It’s going to be a while before electric semi trucks really take off, and Tesla isn’t the only company with plans to make it happen. However, the fact the Tesla Semi is just a hair's-breadth away, suggests you may start seeing them out on the road next year. Especially if you live within 400 miles of Modesto.

New upgrades and more features

tesla model s plaid

(Image credit: Tesla)

While the Cybertruck is the only Tesla car currently slated to launch in the next 12 months, we can be sure the automaker’s existing portfolio will be getting some significant upgrades throughout 2022; some of those upgrades, heading for the Model 3 and Model Y have already leaked.

The fact is Tesla can’t afford to stand still. The company has a reputation for pushing boundaries and changing cars to offer a uniquely Tesla experience, for better or worse; whether that’s adding video games to the infotainment system, or the infamous yoke steering wheel. Increased competition means that it's more important than ever for Tesla to keep digging deep in innovations. 

Chip shortage or not, we can reasonably expect Tesla to make some serious changes. That includes smaller tweaks to performance, improvements to cars running the Full Self Driving Autopilot beta, and more significant upgrades to upcoming cars. It’s hard to say what they’ll be, especially on the higher end Model S and Model X cars, but mark my words they will be coming.

More delays and more price hikes

Tesla Model 3 parked in charging station

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As unfortunate as it is to see, Tesla’s prices slowly creeping upwards over 2021. And we shouldn’t expect that to end in 2022. The tech industry is in a precarious position right now, thanks to the global chip shortage and other COVID-influenced delays to the supply chain. Tesla has proven that it’s not immune to those problems, and that’s a big part of why its prices have been creeping up.

But the COVID-19 virus has proven it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and the chip shortages are expected to last well into 2023. So the problems Tesla has already experienced are likely to continue, potentially getting even worse.

How that problem will manifest itself is anyone’s guess, and that’ll all be up to Tesla. But we can reasonably expect that the automaker will continue to raise prices to counteract the supply chain issues, with further delays of its upcoming cars certainly not off the table. After all, Tesla has been infamous for its delays even before the pandemic.

One feature that's already getting a price hike is Tesla's Full Self Driving software. It's going from $10,000 to $12,000, according to Elon Musk. 

Let’s just hope the automaker doesn’t continue delivering cars without certain components, like USB ports and wireless chargers, before giving people warning first. 

Increased competition

ford f-150 lightning driving shots

(Image credit: Ford)

Ten years ago Tesla was the only automaker taking electric cars seriously. These days just about every automaker either sells, or is planning to sell electric cars. Plenty of those cars are due in 2022, with luxury features that give Tesla a run for its money. Whether that’s advances in driver autonomy, faster recharging capabilities, or range that come close to giving the Model S a run for its money.

Some of those cars are proving to be incredibly popular as well, like the Ford F-150 Lightning. Ford received so many reservations for its electric truck that it had to stop taking them. 2022 is going to mark the year where Tesla is going to have to step up and start taking the rest of the electric car industry seriously. 

As popular and appealing Tesla’s cars may be, they’re not perfect. Tesla still has some trouble with build quality, the prices keep increasing, and its reputation is being dogged by high-profile incidents involving Autopilot. Not to mention the controversial design choices that seemingly come from CEO Elon Musk, like the Model S and X’s yoke steering.

Reputation and brand recognition can go a long way when there’s little to no competition. But that is no longer the case for EVs. So Tesla needs to make sure not to ignore the problem until it’s too late.

Even more car announcements

tesla hatchback

(Image credit: Tesla)

As far as we know Tesla only has one car due to be released in 2022. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t have plenty more to announce throughout the year — especially as competition from other automakers revs up.

Earlier this year we got the announcement that Tesla was developing a smaller hatchback car, and aiming for a $25,000 price tag. While that EV isn’t due to arrive until 2023 at the absolutely earliest, it does mean Tesla could have some more surprise announcements in the pipeline for 2022. 

We could conceivably see more powerful versions of the Model 3 and Model Y in the near future. The Model S and Model X both have ‘Plaid’ powertrains, and it's not unreasonable to suggest that something similar could happen to Tesla’s cheaper cars. But perhaps not quite on the same level, considering how expensive the Plaid variants are. 

It would be nice to see the standard range Model Y return, after it was unceremoniously scrapped for having under 250 miles of range. A drop in the crossover SUV’s price from the $58,990 it is right now, would also be appreciated. Or it could be something completely different.

But with the electric car industry growing, especially in the U.S., we would be shocked if Tesla went another 12 months without announcing something new — delays or not.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.