Another excerpt from biographer Walter Isaacson’s book on Elon Musk shares new details about Tesla’s next-generation vehicle platform, including plans for a different build location than the automaker previously reported.
In the excerpt, which Axios published on Friday, Isaacson details Musk’s well-documented desire to build Tesla’s next-generation electric vehicle (EV) platform used for self-driving cars. Although Tesla announced plans earlier this year to build the next-gen EV at an upcoming Gigafactory in Mexico, Isaacson says that Musk changed the initial build location of the robotaxi platform to Gigafactory Austin as recently as May.
“Tesla engineering will need to be on the line to make it successful, and getting everyone to move to Mexico is never going to happen,” Musk told Isaacson.
While Giga Mexico is still expected to be built out for the new generation of Tesla’s EVs, the excerpt details Musk’s desire to have the automaker’s design engineers even closer to the assembly process.
This would allow engineers to provide feedback instantly, and rather than relocating these engineers to Giga Mexico, Musk reportedly decided to change the new platform’s initial production location to Tesla’s headquarters at Giga Texas.
Samuel García Sepúlveda, governor of the Mexican state Nuevo León, where Giga Mexico will be built, said earlier this year that the automaker would build a production line from the ground up to build Tesla’s $25,000 compact car outside of Monterrey. A move to debut the initial production of the upcoming EV at Giga Texas wouldn’t necessarily change this detail.
Beyond Giga Texas being Tesla’s headquarters, it’s also where Musk’s primary workspace is located, and it includes a high-speed assembly line for production that includes updated automation functionality.
According to Isaacson in another report from Axios, the upcoming robotaxi EV platform is expected to be inspired by the Cybertruck, built on the same architecture as the $25,000 car design. The EVs are expected to be similar, even using the same assembly line. However, one key difference between the two mass-market EVs is that the robotaxi may not necessarily include a steering wheel, while the passenger vehicle version would.
Isaacson also shares details from a design review session in February for the EVs, during which Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen showed the $25,000 car design and the robotaxi design next to each other. Musk responded with enthusiasm — particularly due to their futuristic, Cybertruck-like design.
“When one of these comes around a corner, people will think they are seeing something from the future,” Musk said during the meeting.
Still, Isaacson notes that Musk’s excitement is far higher for the robotaxi project than for the $25,000 car, especially given how much the Tesla CEO expects to see transportation redefined with the self-driving vehicle platform. According to von Holzhausen, the Tesla team even had to convince Musk to use the same vehicle architecture for both the $25,000 vehicle and the robotaxi design.
“It’s really not that exciting of a product,” Musk previously said of the mass-market EV.