Tesla Says New Vehicles, Including ‘Affordable’ Models, Are Coming. Musk Has Few Details (Updated)

By automotive-mag.com 5 Min Read

[April 23, 6:07 PM Eastern: This story has been updated with details from Tesla’s earnings call.]

Lately, it’s been a fair question whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk remembers he’s running a car company—or if he even wants to. Much to the chagrin of investors, owners and fans everywhere, word on the street lately is that Tesla’s big focus is robots, AI and autonomously-driven robotaxis instead of a supposedly $25,000 EV. All of that comes at a time when Tesla’s car lineup is older than ever, and losing ground to new electric competitors.

But Tesla’s Q1 2024 financial report, which was released today ahead of its quarterly earnings call, seems to affirm that some new vehicles are indeed coming soon—including “more affordable” models. 

Then again, the CEO himself had little to say about any of these models, preferring to opine about AI, the robotaxi service, the Optimus robot and autonomous driving instead. 

“We have updated our future vehicle line-up to accelerate the launch of new models ahead of our previously communicated start of production in the second half of 2025,” the report said. “These new vehicles, including more affordable models, will utilize aspects of the next-generation platform as well as aspects of our current platforms, and will be able to be produced on the same manufacturing lines as our current vehicle line-up.” 

“So we expect it to be more like early 2025, if not late this year,” Musk said on the earnings call. “It’s not contingent on any new factory or massive new production line. It’ll be made on our current production lines much more efficiently. And we think this should allow us to get to over 3 million vehicles of capacity.” In 2023, Tesla produced about 1.8 million vehicles. 

Beyond that, Musk didn’t seem at all interested in elaborating on an actual product roadmap. At several points during Tuesday evening’s call, he either demurred or waved off questions about what was coming next—including when one analyst asked if “new products” meant updates like the Highland Model 3, or entirely new cars.

Instead, Musk wanted to talk not about how Tesla is going to fend off Hyundai or Nissan, but how it’s going to deploy a network of autonomous taxis under a service he likened to Airbnb or Uber. 

“We should be thought of as an AI/robotics company,” Musk told the analyst. “If you value Tesla as as just like an auto company… it’s just the wrong framework. And if you ask the wrong question, the right answer is impossible.”

Both Musk and today’s report stop far short of what many investors and Tesla-watchers probably wanted: confirmation of that $25,000 EV, and maybe announcements of new crossovers and sedans to replace the aging Model S, X, Y and 3. (The Roadster is said to be in the cards as well, but like the Cybertruck before it, it has been long-delayed and is likely to be an expensive niche product.)

Earlier, the robotaxi—reportedly some kind of fully autonomous vehicle that Tesla will deploy in an unspecified new “service”—was said to ride on the same next-generation platform as the more affordable compact car. But earlier this month Reuters reported that program had been canceled, something Musk later denied. Its current status is unclear, but industry observers believe that more affordable EVs will be key to wider adoption, and that Tesla is positioned to deliver on them first—that is, if competitors from China and even players like Kia and Ford don’t beat Tesla to the punch. 

Besides the Cybertruck, which launched to a more expensive price tag and less range than anticipated, most of Tesla’s new models as of late have been updates of existing ones, like the upgraded Model 3. Earlier today, Tesla formally unveiled the Performance variant of that sedan. But entirely new models from the ground up are nowhere to be found, and that has investors and fans alike concerned about the company’s ability to do battle with the competition. 

It is possible that Musk will elaborate further on the upcoming models in tonight’s earnings call. If that happens, we will update this story. 

Contact the author: [email protected]

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *