Update: In a response on Twitter, Tesla IR Head Martin Viecha clarified his statement about the company’s affordable car and Robotaxi rollout. Following is the Tesla executive’s tweet.
The Tesla Model Y may be on track to become the world’s best-selling vehicle in the near future, but at the end of the day, the all-electric crossover is still a premium electric car that’s unattainable to a large portion of the car buying public. If Tesla would like to dominate the auto industry, it would need to release an affordable EV that can be purchased even by entry-level consumers.
The idea of an affordable EV from Tesla is not new, though in Elon Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux, he noted that a lower cost electric car might not be necessary anymore after the Model 3 because of the company’s Robotaxi plans. But with the Robotaxi program being delayed — at least until Tesla solves autonomous driving — and the rising starting prices of the Model 3 and Model Y as of late, the need for a more affordable EV from Tesla is becoming quite evident.
While speculations of an affordable EV from Tesla have been abounding for years, Elon Musk has taken a conservative stance on the matter. In recent months, Musk has hinted at the idea of Tesla simply releasing a dedicated, futuristic Robotaxi instead of a more affordable EV. Tesla’s Robotaxi will reportedly be made with autonomy in mind, and in the Q2 2022 Update Letter, the vehicle was actually listed as “in development.”
According to Tesla head of investor relations Martin Viecha, however, the company may need to release a more affordable EV before the rollout of the dedicated Robotaxi. Viecha shared his thoughts during an invite-only Goldman Sachs tech conference in San Francisco. The Tesla executive’s comments were shared to Insider by an attendee of the event.
When Viecha was asked about the possibility of Tesla making a more affordable EV, the executive stated that the company eventually wants to release a cheaper vehicle on the road. The head of investor relations noted that if Tesla wants to be a high-volume automaker, then it would need a broad portfolio — one that includes a more affordable offering. That being said, the demand for the Model 3 and Model Y has been stronger than expected, so the need for a new vehicle is not that notable for now, according to the executive.
While Elon Musk is evidently all-in on Tesla’s Robotaxi future, it would likely still be a mistake for the company to ignore or neglect the affordable vehicle segment. Companies like Toyota, after all, did not rise to the top by just making premium cars. Apart from this, the affordable EV market is quite important for the global transition to electric cars, as such vehicles are extremely popular in countries where cars like the Model 3 are still out of reach for mainstream buyers.
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