Tesla CEO Elon Musk Says It’s Working on a Cheaper Next-Gen EV Platform
CEO Elon Musk has previously said that it would take three years to build out its smaller, more affordable platform.
Tesla's engineering team has shifted its focus toward the automaker's next-generation platform. CEO Elon Musk claimed Wednesday during the company's third-quarter financials call with investors that the Texas-based manufacturer has its top talent burying their noses in the underpinnings of a future product which, according to Musk, will be around half the price of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.
"We don't have exact dates, but it's the primary focus of our new vehicle development team, obviously," Musk said. "At this point, we've done the engineering for Cybertruck and for Semi. So, obviously you can guess what we’re working on, which is the next-generation vehicle, which will be about half the cost of the 3 and Y platform. It will be smaller, to be clear, but it will certainly exceed the production of all of our other vehicles combined."
This isn't the first time that we've heard about a cheaper Tesla. In fact, Musk touted the idea of a $25,000 "fully autonomous" EV at the company's Battery Day event in September 2020, promising to introduce it by the end of 2023. However, Tesla had not yet started the engineering of its cheaper vehicle as of its earnings call in January 2022.
“We’re not currently working on the $25,000 car,” said Musk in January. ”At some point we will. We have enough on our plate right now. Too much on our plate, frankly.”
Musk also brought up the idea of a $25,000 vehicle in a 2018 interview with tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee, noting that it would take the company approximately three years to fully develop. If this timeline is still accurate, it could mean that Tesla's next-generation EV may not actually be introduced until 2025 or later given that development only began this year. And given Tesla's history of loose timelines with new products and their promised costs (especially with inflation driving up component costs), we're not exactly holding our breath for this one any time soon.
For reference, the Model 3 ranges in price from $46,990 to $62,990, meaning that "half" the cost could be as much as $32,000. Given the CEO's hedging of the price being "about" half, one could predict a price point of around $35,000, or around the same price that the Model 3 was originally promised to hit.
Other Product Updates
The long-awaited Tesla Semi will soon begin shipping to commercial customers. Its first deliveries are finally slated for December, a whopping three years later than originally promised, but that finally opens up room for Tesla to begin working on launching the Cybertruck.
The shareholder presentation indicated that the Cybertruck is on track for 2023 production, as reported earlier this year, and has now entered the tooling phase of production, meaning that its final design tweaks have likely been ironed out versus the original concept from 2019. Batteries for the Cybertruck are expected to be manufactured at Fremont, according to a report from Teslarati that cites internal sources.
A few software changes are also coming. Tesla's 160,000 participants of its now-$15,000 FSD Beta program are in for some good news to start. Most of those participants actually have access to the feature today—the automaker has been a bit cautious of who exactly gets access to it and when—but that is poised to change. According to Musk, FSD Beta will enter wide release by the end of the year, significantly increasing the number of drivers with access to Tesla's most controversial (in name and in action) software.
Likewise, Tesla may also soon bring back its killed referral program. No official announcement has been made on this front, however, an individual who reverse-engineered some code for Tesla's iOS app noticed some back-end code references to the referral program (along with new rewards) in the latest version of the app.
Despite all of Tesla's exciting updates, many fans and critics are still skeptical of just how quickly Tesla can live up to its promises. The automaker has a reputation for not exactly being timely when it comes to anticipated timelines, and with more battery-electric competition coming down the pike over the next few years, Tesla will need to work quickly in order to retain its throne in its respective segments.
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