Tesla boss Elon Musk has announced a new electric car model during the live opening of the electric vehicle maker’s newest and largest electric vehicle factory in Texas, hinting that plans for a a $25,000 “Model 2” sedan were discontinued.
But the new EV model won’t be available to customers, Musk says. Speaking to the audience at the “Cyber Rodeo” event on Thursday night (US time), Musk said he wouldn’t “spill all the beans” on the company’s future plans, but stated that it includes a dedicated Robotaxi.
“It’s going to look pretty futuristic,” Musk said.
Musk has previously said the Standard Range Model 3 will become the basis for a fleet of self-driving taxis Tesla wants to roll out.
Now, the entrepreneur hints that it will be a new model with a completely new design. However, no other details or specs were shared.
Musk said Tesla’s Texas plant was designed to be “the most advanced automotive plant the earth has ever seen”, and that its opening is the start of a “new phase of Tesla’s future. “.
“It’s a huge improvement for Tesla,” he said, saying the new factory was designed to reduce movement between sections, after learning from Tesla’s Fremont operations that having departments in different buildings leads to unnecessary transport of components, time and costs.
Instead, the Texas plant will “take raw materials from one side and take cars out the other side,” Musk said.
The plant’s opening was also a sign of how far the electric vehicle company has come since opening its Fremont plant in 2010, where the Tesla Model 3 was first manufactured.
“When we started, I thought we had a 10 percent chance of making it,” Musk said.
Musk says the Texas plant will take the company to “extreme scale”, aiming to make an astonishing one in five cars in the world according to Musk.
It plans to manufacture 500,000 Model Ys there per year and will start manufacturing the Cybertruck there from 2023. Production of the semi-electric truck and roadster is also planned for 2023, but will that materialize in the context of supply chain and battery cell constraints? being seen.
Tesla currently accounts for around 1% of global car production – and wants to hit 20% to move the needle.
Tesla also began manufacturing the 4680 cell at the Texas factory. Musk said he believes the Texas factory will also become the world’s largest battery factory, although he did not say how much production capacity it will have.
All new Model Y cars made in Texas will be made using a front and rear casting connected by a set of structural cells that Musk says is more efficient and safer.
“The cells themselves carry the load,” Musk said, adding that the production method results in a lighter car that uses fewer parts.
“It costs less, improves crash performance – it has a safety benefit,” he said.
Along with announcing the new Robotaxi model, Musk also announced that by the end of 2022, Tesla will be rolling out the Full Self-Driving beta software to all Tesla owners who have purchased the package.
Plans for a Tesla robot named ‘Optimus’ are also still underway, with a V1 slated for 2023. Musk thinks the robot could have a bigger impact on the planet than cars, allowing humanity to enter in an “age of plenty”.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor of The Driven, sister site to Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018 and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emission transport must play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is a co-organizer of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and offers it for hire on evee.com.au.