A Tesla executive has hinted at the automaker offering cheaper electric cars ahead of launching its robotaxi service.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said that he was “embarrassed” by how expensive the automaker’s electric cars are at the moment.
With inflation, the rising cost of battery materials, and strong demand, Tesla’s prices went up significantly across its entire EV lineup over the last two years.
Now the cheapest Tesla you can buy starts at $46,000 in the US, and the Model Y, Tesla’s most popular vehicle, starts at a whopping $66,000.
Musk has talked about reducing prices once inflation calms down. He has also previously talked about a cheaper $25,000 Tesla electric car, but he has put the project on the back-burner in favor of other programs at Tesla.
At times, the CEO also said that he is not sure a cheaper Tesla model is needed with the advent of self-driving resulting in the cheapest form of transportation being a large ride-hailing fleet powered by self-driving electric vehicles.
Recently, Tesla announced plans to build its own dedicated robotaxi vehicle for the service.
Now at the invite-only Goldman Sachs tech conference in San Francisco yesterday, Martin Viecha, Tesla’s head of investor relations, gave a presentation about the company in which he described what to expect from Tesla over the next five years.
According to a third-party account of the presentation released by Business Insider, Viecha reiterated plans for a cheaper vehicle and an overall cheaper offering ahead of the robotaxi service:
When asked about the possibility of Tesla making a cheaper EV, Viecha said that the company eventually wants a more affordable vehicle on the road. If a company wants to be a high-volume automaker, it needs a broad portfolio, and Tesla needs a cheaper offering before its company-operated robotaxi service comes out, he explained.
The executive didn’t elaborate on the timing beyond saying it would come before the robotaxi service, which itself has been delayed several times.
Update: Viecha has now clarified his comment saying that he didn’t say anything about before the robotaxi, which he says is coming in 2024
Viecha also said that he believes Model Y will become the best-selling vehicle of all time next year:
Model Y will basically next year become the best selling vehicle of any kind of all time in the world.
The exec noted that Tesla has yet to pull some demand triggers for the vehicle, including an emphasis on leasing.
While price is one metric, Viecha told investors that the cost of building electric cars is the most important metric to follow. Despite rising prices, Viexha noted that Tesla’s cost per car went from $84,000 in 2017 to $36,000 per vehicle in recent quarters.
He believes there’s still room for improvements and hinted that the Tesla robotaxi could bring some of those improvements in the form of a new generation platform, which would be Tesla’s third after the Model S/X being the first and Model 3/Y being Tesla’s second-generation platform.
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