Tesla Robotaxi Arriving in August, But Plans Dropped for Low-Cost EV

April 18, 2024
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the automaker is planning to unveil its new robotaxi self-driving vehicle this August. It’s also canceling plans to build a less-expensive entry-level car.

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the automaker will introduce its new robotaxi self-driving vehicle on August 8, 2024. Musk didn’t provide any further details in his brief post on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which he owns. “Tesla Robotaxi unveil on 8/8,” the Tesla CEO posted.

Tesla's self-driving taxi would use only cameras—not LiDAR laser arrays—to scan the vehicle's surroundings and guide the vehicle. LiDAR offers advantages such as the ability to work in any lighting conditions and has greater range than cameras. On the other hand, cameras generally have greater visual recognition. In a Tesla, eight cameras capture real-time footage of activity surrounding the car.

Currently, self-driving capability can be purchased with a new Tesla Model 3 by adding $12,000 to the car’s approximately $40,000 purchase price. Tesla's so-called "Autopilot" technology in its electric cars is merely a driver-assistance system that requires control and intervention by a human at the wheel. It’s designed to assist with steering, braking, and lane changes, but not considered autonomous. Indeed, Tesla has warned drivers they must keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of vehicles.

In related news, according to a report published by the news agency Reuters, Tesla canceled its plan to build a low-cost, entry-level car and instead will continue to develop self-driving robotaxis.

Chinese EV makers such as BYD have been producing electric cars priced as low as $10,000 in its domestic market. Tesla’s cheapest current model, the Model 3 sedan, retails for about $39,000 in the U.S. The entry-level vehicle was expected to start at about $25,000.

Tesla recently reported an 8% year-over-year drop in deliveries just after BYD reported a 13% gain. Still, according to Reuters, Tesla’s $545 billion market capitalization is higher than the combined worth of the next three most valuable carmakers, Toyota, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz. 

News update: It was reported by multiple sources that Tesla was laying off approximately 10% of its workforce.

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