Transportation

Elon Musk says he’ll unveil a Tesla robotaxi on August 8

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Image Credits: Chris Carlson / AP

Just hours after Elon Musk claimed Reuters was “lying” about Tesla’s plans to ditch its $25,000 low-cost EV and instead focus all its efforts on a robotaxi, the Tesla CEO announced on X that he would reveal said robotaxi in an event on August 8.

The announcement comes as Tesla EV sales have lagged and profits have fallen, leaving the company and its CEO on a search for another product to boost sales — or at least the stock price.

Earlier Friday, a Reuters report citing three anonymous sources and internal documents said that Tesla was abandoning its plan to build a lower-cost EV and would instead focus resources on a planned robotaxi that is being built on the same small EV platform that was also supposed to power the lower-cost vehicle.

Musk took to X, the social network he owns, and claimed without proof, that Reuters was “lying.” He did not dispute any specific details.

Hours later, Musk posted on X that a “Tesla Robotaxi” will be unveiled August 8.

Reports have swirled for years that Tesla was working on these two vehicles. But Musk has wavered on whether to prioritize a typical car or one with no steering wheel or pedals, despite not having yet produced a fully autonomous car, according to descriptions in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Musk.

The CEO  pushed back in mid-2022 against his engineers’ insistence on referencing a car with a steering wheel and pedals. And even as he pressed ahead, lead designer Franz von Holzhausen and engineering VP Lars Moravy kept the more traditional car version alive as a “shadow project,” Isaacson wrote at the time.

Musk has been promising autonomous capabilities in Tesla vehicles for years. In 2016, he said Tesla would drive itself cross-country by the end of 2017 (it didn’t happen). In 2019, he promised to launch the company’s first robotaxis as part of a broader vision for an autonomous ride-sharing network in 2020 (that also did not happen). A few years later, he said a dedicated robotaxi with no steering wheel or pedals would come to market by 2024.

Tesla vehicles come standard with a driver-assistance system branded as Autopilot. For an additional $12,000, owners can buy “full self-driving,” or FSD — a feature that CEO Elon Musk has promised for years will one day deliver full autonomous driving capabilities. Tesla vehicles are not self-driving. Instead, FSD includes a number of automated driving features that still require the driver to be ready to take control at all times, including the parking feature Summon, as well as Navigate on Autopilot, an active guidance system that navigates a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and making lane changes. The system is also supposed to handle steering on city streets.

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