One such revelation has provided some insight into the company’s longstanding (but vague) commitment to making a $25,000 EV. As it turns out, the mythical $25,000 EV could potentially be helped along by Musk’s obsession with building autonomous robotaxis.
The $25,000 EV — more of a true “entry-level” EV than has previously existed in the United States market — has been a goal in the EV industry for many years, and a goal of Tesla in particular, with Musk first promising one in 2018, then again in 2020, and now once again in 2023.
However, according to Walter Isaacson’s “Elon Musk” biography, excerpted in Axios, Musk actually has never had much interest in producing a $25,000 Tesla, and it has instead been his engineers leading the charge. Those engineers could only make headway once they convinced Musk that the $25,000 EV could be produced alongside one of his longtime obsessions: autonomous, self-driving robotaxis.
“There is no amount [of robotaxis] that we could possibly build that will be enough,” Isaacson quotes Musk as saying. “Someday we want to be at 20 million a year.” The CEO later told Isaacson, “This is the product that makes Tesla a ten-trillion company. People will be talking about this moment in a hundred years.”
Despite warnings from the engineers that a fully autonomous robotaxi would never be approved by regulators for actual use, Musk insisted on pushing ahead, with a disregard for safety. (The biography also includes a section in which Musk repeatedly stormed into the Tesla offices and yelled at his employees after he was nearly killed by the Autopilot features he insisted on including.)
So, instead of going against Musk, the engineers reportedly made his preoccupation work in their favor, convincing him that the $25,000 EV and the robotaxi could be produced in tandem — and further enticing him by saying the entry-level car would be made in the signature style of a Cybertruck.
This, apparently, was finally enough to sway Musk into believing that the $25,000 EV was something that Tesla could and should produce. “When one of these comes around a corner, people will think they are seeing something from the future,” he said, per the book.
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