Tesla vehicles on the next-gen platform will initially be produced at Giga Texas. This is a change from Tesla’s original plan to build the next-gen platform at Giga Mexico. This platform will be the basis for an affordable $25,000 electric vehicle and an autonomous Robotaxi.
Elon Musk has long dreamed of a Robotaxi, which would forever change the automotive industry and the way we perceive cars. To achieve this goal, Tesla must first provide Full Self-Driving (FSD), which will ensure that cars can drive themselves, taking their passengers anywhere. Walter Isaacson, a biographer who has spent the last three years near Musk, shares excerpts to shed light on some of the life of the extraordinary engineer.
In November 2021, Musk gathered five of his top engineers in Austin, Texas to discuss the future of Robotaxi. They concluded the car would be smaller, less expensive, and not as fast than Model 3. “Our main focus has to be volume,” Musk said. “There is no amount that we could possibly build that will be enough. Someday we want to be at twenty million a year.” (via Axios)
However, the desire to create a Robotaxi, without a steering wheel, pedals and mirrors, was Musk’s only desire. He said the future would not come fast enough unless Tesla forces it. “Let me be clear,” he said. “This vehicle must be designed as a clean Robotaxi. We’re going to take that risk. It’s my fault if it f-ks up. But we are not going to design some sort of amphibian frog that’s a halfway car. We are all in on autonomy.”
“This will be a historically mega-revolutionary product,” Musk said. “It will transform everything. This is the product that makes Tesla a ten-trillion company. People will be talking about this moment in a hundred years.”
In 2022, Tesla’s engineering team added information to the existing discussions. It concluded that due to strict safety standards, there was no chance that countries around the world would adopt Tesla’s FSD technology anytime soon, even if it was proven safe in the US. This required cars to have a steering wheel, pedals and mirrors. In addition, engineers have proven that there is an urgent need to develop an affordable car for the market masses. The launch of production of this model will ensure Tesla’s annual growth by 50%. Tesla’s engineering team has shown that the same car platform and assembly lines can be used to produce both a $25,000 car and a Robotaxi.
“We convinced him that if we build these factories and we have this platform, we could churn out both Robotaxis and a $25,000 car, all on the same vehicle architecture,” said Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen.
In February 2023, von Holzhausen presented side-by-side models of a robotaxi and a $25,000 car to Musk. Both had a futuristic Cybertruck vibe and that is what won him over. “When one of these comes around a corner,” he said, “people will think they are seeing something from the future.”
Both cars will be produced on the same platform. Initially, Musk decided that Tesla would build a new factory in northern Mexico, where Giga Mexico is planned. To achieve this, a factory would be built that would use a new, highly automated production method. However, a new problem emerged. Design engineers had to be constantly on hand to launch the production of a new product. However, it would be extremely difficult to convince Tesla’s top engineers to move to another country to make this possible.
“Tesla engineering will need to be on the line to make it successful, and getting everyone to move to Mexico is never going to happen,” he told Isaacson.
Based on new difficulties, the company’s plan was changed. In May 2023, Musk decided to change the original assembly location for the production of cars on the next-generation platform. According to the new plan, this would take place at Giga Texas, in Austin. This is where he and the company’s best engineers are located. Musk and his team spent the summer of 2023 in the factory, where they worked on designing every station on the line, finding ways to save milliseconds in every step and process.
Giga Mexico was initially announced in March, but there has been no construction since then. The company has submitted permit applications to begin, but so far has not received the green light. According to a recent report, Giga Mexico might not start producing cars until as late as 2027.