Elon Musk has disclosed new details about Tesla’s “robotaxi”, revealing that it will feature no steering wheel or pedals and will be as cheap to ride as a bus.
Speaking to shareholders during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, Mr Musk said the electric car firm plans to begin mass production of the self-driving taxis in 2024.
“We are also working on a new vehicle that I alluded to at the Giga Texas opening, which is a dedicated robotaxi,” Mr Musk said.
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“It is going to be highly optimised for autonomy – meaning it will not have a steering wheel or pedals. There are a number of other innovations around it that I think are quite exciting, but it is fundamentally optimised to achieve the lowest fully considered cost per mile or kilometre when counting everything.
“Looking at some of our projections, it would appear that a robotaxi ride will cost less than a bus ticket, a subsidized bus ticket or a subsidized subway ticket.”
The robotaxi is a major departure from Tesla’s passenger vehicle business, though will utilise the same autonomous technology developed for its Model S, Model 3, Model X and Model Y range of electric cars.
Sales of those vehicles contributed to record-breaking profits in the first quarter of 2022 for Tesla, with deliveries up 68 per cent despite supply chain shortages.
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The company posted profits of $3.3 billion (£2.5bn) in the first three months of the year after delivering more than 310,000 cars to customers.
Two new factories in Texas and Germany will likely see the number of deliveries continue to rise as production ramps up to meet demand.
The unveiling of the robotaxi is planned for next year, in what is an ambitious schedule for the new vehicle type. Development, testing, regulatory approval and mass production is a process that typically takes several years, though Mr Musk is known for his aggresive targets, which are not always met.
“I think can be very powerful product where we aspire to reach volume production in 2024,”Mr Musk said.
“I think [the robotaxi] really will be a massive driver of Tesla’s growth.”
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