During a recent all-hands meeting, Tesla CEO Elon Musk provided some updates on one of the company’s most ambitious vehicles yet: the ~$25,000 compact car. As per information shared by individuals familiar with the items discussed in the meeting, Musk clarified that the upcoming vehicle would not be named the “Model 2,” but it could be a car designed for Full Self-Driving with no steering wheel or physical pedals.
EV blog Electrek, citing individuals who were also at the recently-held all-hands meeting, further claimed that the $25,000 compact car has a tentative release date of 2023. This is notably conservative as previous reports from China hint that work on an affordable Tesla is already underway. Earlier this year, local reports from Chinese media outlets hinted that a vehicle that’s more affordable than the Model 3 would likely start testing at the latter half of the year.
• Tesla won't call the $25k model the "Model2". "Only did Model 3 cause Ford had model E trademark so we just did model 3 to troll them"— Sawyer Merritt 📈🚀 (@SawyerMerritt) September 3, 2021
More recent reports from the world’s largest EV market hinted that a prototype of the affordable Tesla had also been completed, and most suppliers for the upcoming vehicle had already been lined up. Considering Musk’s recent comments at the hands-on meeting, it almost seems like Tesla is building two affordable all-electric cars: a more traditional compact EV that would be released in China and another low-cost car that’s primarily designed for Full Self-Driving in the United States. Both vehicles have the potential to be disruptive in their own way.
An affordable Tesla in China — particularly one that is reportedly based on the Model 3 platform — would likely be a substantial hit among budget-conscious buyers who are looking to get the most out of their vehicle purchase. Tesla tends to equip its cars with a robust set of standard features, and its vehicles typically offer performance that’s far above their price point. These, together with the convenience offered by the Supercharger Network, would likely allow Tesla’s affordable car in China to be competitive in the country’s local market.
A low-cost pure FSD car for the United States would also have some potential. Assuming that Tesla could indeed develop a fully autonomous solution for its vehicles, a fleet of affordable Robotaxis would definitely make sense. Such an idea is not that wild either, considering that GM’s Cruise debuted the exact same concept back in 2018. During that time, Cruise showed off a concept of a Chevy Bolt EV that has no steering wheel or physical pedals. Cruise was targeting a 2019 rollout for the vehicle then, though such a target was not met. Tesla also unveiled a similar concept for the Model 3 back in 2019 when it held its Autonomy Day event.
Tesla’s affordable car is the next big project for Elon Musk and his team. Producing a mass-market car like the Model 3 profitably is no joke, after all, but rolling out an affordable car that could still turn a profit would be an even more challenging undertaking. If Tesla could pull it off, however, the company could effectively cement its place as this generation’s premier vehicle maker, and a company that holds the key to true autonomous driving.
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