Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla plans to make an electric van, but he says that it won’t come until the automaker can secure more battery cell supply for it.
Tesla electric van
Tesla has been thinking about producing an electric van or minibus for years now.
In the “Tesla Master Plan Part 2,” CEO Elon Musk talked about two new segments Tesla is looking to electrify:
In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year. We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.
Tesla did end up unveiling the Tesla Semi, the “heavy-duty truck,” but it never unveiled a vehicle for “high passenger-density urban transport.”
Musk has talked about Tesla making an electric minibus based on the Model X before, but it didn’t come to fruition.
There were talks about Tesla making a van-like passenger vehicle for Musk’s Boring Company, but as time went by, the tunnel-making startup has just used existing Tesla vehicles for its transit system.
Back in 2018, Musk also said that it would be interesting for Tesla to work with Mercedes-Benz on an electric version of their popular and versatile Sprinter van, but nothing came of the proposed partnership.
Musk says it will come… with batteries
In a conference call following the release of Tesla’s Q4 2020 earnings this week, Musk was asked about Tesla making an electric van following several recent announcements from other companies going into the space, like GM with BrightDrop.
The CEO responded by saying that Tesla will produce an electric van, but it is dependent on battery cell supply:
I think Tesla is definitely going to make an electric van at some point. So the thing to bear in mind is that there is fundamentally a constraint on battery cell output. If one is not involved in manufacturing, it’s really hard to appreciate just how hard this scale of production is. It’s the hardest thing in the world. Prototypes are easy. Scaling production is very hard.
During the call, the automaker also said that the Tesla Semi program is in a similar situation waiting for battery cell supply.
Ramping up their own battery cell production is going to partly solve the issue, but Musk was also adamant that Tesla plans to buy all the battery cell supply they can from other manufacturers.
Tesla said that they are on target to reach 10 GWh of production capacity at their 4680 cell pilot plant in Fremont this year and deploy 100 GWh of production capacity in Berlin and Texas by the end of next year.
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