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Elon Musk Says Affordable Tesla EVs Are Coming Sooner Than Planned, But Potentially On Old Platforms

Key Takeaways

  • Tesla is accelerating the development of more affordable vehicles despite rumors of scrapping them.
  • Analysts predict Model 3 & Model Y will form basis of cheap new EVs, not all-new platform.
  • Musk promises to improve existing vehicles for ride-hailing compatibility.
  • Tesla FSD to support new robotaxi.

During Tesla’s recent Q1 earnings call, company CEO Elon Musk justified his claim that news agency Reuters had lied about the death of the affordable Tesla by announcing that the introduction of more affordable vehicles was being accelerated. Here’s the full backstory in a nutshell: Tesla has been promising that a $25,000 EV will be built using a new “unboxed” manufacturing method, a method it would share with a small robotaxi because they would share the same innovative platform.

The report said that Tesla had scrapped the development of a single affordable car altogether, but now Musk is suggesting multiple cheaper cars are in development. The important detail here is that Tesla has scrapped the idea of building an affordable EV on the robotaxi’s platform – at least for the foreseeable future – and that’s the rather significant part of Elon’s promise that has changed, as we’re about to explore.


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Focused On Full Self-Driving (Unsupervised)

The robotaxi rollout is still on for August, and it now has a name: Cyber Cab. Unless Tesla is literally on the brink of cracking true self-driving autonomous capabilities for its EVs, this will be nothing more than a design presentation, meaning production will not follow for some time. That said, Musk stressed this aspect of the business as one that will grow, confident that Tesla will “solve autonomy” and reiterating plans to make existing vehicles compatible with ride-hailing, something that has been brewing for a long time but has not yet materialized in any form. Still, recent updates to supervised Full Self-Driving software have shown notable improvements, and Musk is adamant that Tesla is a tech company, not a carmaker, touting diversification into AI and robotics as its future.


While we’re on the subject, Musk claims Tesla is in active discussions with a major automaker interested in potentially licensing FSD software. Musk has publicly voiced his willingness to share the tech with others on several occasions, but to date, nobody but him has announced such talks. If Musk’s enthusiasm about FSD’s potential breakthroughs is well-founded, it would certainly make sense for some companies to borrow the tech rather than develop it in-house. Even big legacy automakers like Audi need help with autonomous driving.


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What Happened To The Cheap Tesla EV?

As mentioned at the outset, Musk has indicated that more affordable models are being developed at a faster rate than initially planned. According to several analysts, these cheaper cars won’t be all-new. As a result, they may not hit Musk’s price target of under $25,000. According to Reuters, we should expect lesser-equipped vehicles than the Model 3 and Model Y, but with their own benefits:

“We read ‘more affordable’ as potentially de-contented Model Y/Model 3 versions with improvements in software and AI/hardware capability, but at lower prices.”

– Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley analyst.

In summary, the good news is that Tesla will be giving us cheaper cars, and sooner than planned. The bad news is that they won’t be quite what was originally promised. The grey area is the future of self-driving technologies, which do not have a good safety reputation. If FSD becomes the golden ticket that it’s supposed to be, every Tesla critic will have egg all over their faces. In the meantime, these more affordable cars should keep shareholders somewhat happy. The only question is when they will arrive, as production information on both the Robo Cab robotaxi and these new EVs was flatly denied.


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