Tesla is working on a $25,000 electric car with a design resembling the Cybertruck, according to Elon Musk’s biographer. The project could seriously shake up the automotive sector, but it was necessary to convince the boss of Tesla who had gone with a completely different idea…
Elon Musk has his favorites and his obsessions. In 2019, it offered owners of the brand’s vehicles to participate in a network of robotaxis, which would allow them to generate income of up to $30,000 per year. This idea, like others of the billionaire, never came to fruition, nevertheless it always ran through his head.
The obsession with robotaxis
Walter Isaacson, author of the authorized biography on Elon Musk, explored the subject with the main interested party. He believes that robotaxis will eventually eliminate private cars — people will only travel with fully automated vehicles rented on a ride-hailing basis. And to make this project a reality, he brought together five of his lieutenants in November 2021 to think about a basic and easy-to-produce robotaxi.
The idea put on the table by Elon Musk is radical: this vehicle will have no rear-view mirror, no steering wheel, no pedals. Driving will be fully autonomous, provided by Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology. He is convinced: this robotaxi will propel Tesla into the future, and its capitalization to 10,000 billion dollars.
But now, Tesla managers are much less enthusiastic. First there is the FSD, which is far from being ready – and moreover, the authorities will have to be convinced of the safety of vehicles without a steering wheel. Despite the reluctance, Musk is stubborn: ” I take responsibility for this decision (…) This vehicle must be designed as a very simple robotaxi. We’re going to take this risk. It will be my fault if we mess up“.
Tesla executives, still not convinced by the big boss’s idea, for their part believed that these robotaxis were not what the company needed to achieve its growth objective of 50% per year. They nevertheless found a way to accommodate Musk’s sensitivities. At a meeting held in September 2022, chief designer Franz von Holzhausen and a few others demonstrated that the company was instead to launch a small model at $25,000.
von Holzhausen won the day during a session with designers organized last February, during which he presented his boss with the robotaxi and the famous affordable car. Both take the same futuristic and angular lines of the Cybertruck. Immediate favorite: ” When one of these cars hits the road, people will think it’s from the future “, he rejoices.
Read also “If Lego succeeds, so can we”: for the Cybertruck, Elon Musk demands better manufacturing quality
And to definitely pass the pill, they proposed to Elon Musk to produce this car and the robotaxi on the same new generation platform, thus allowing joint production (which has the advantage of reducing costs). Musk saw this as an opportunity to develop an ultra-modern factory with a state-of-the-art manufacturing process.
The excerpt from the book shared by Axios does not specify if Elon Musk’s lieutenants won their case on the presence of steering wheel and pedals in these two future vehicles!