Reuters: Tesla Has Ditched Its Affordable EV Efforts in Favor of Robotaxis

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Affordable EVs seem to be a nut that no automaker can crack, as every promise of a “sub-$30,000” model or similar has fallen through in favor of higher prices. It now seems that Tesla is following suit, despite repeated promises that it would develop a mass-market EV at a reasonable price. Earlier today, Reuters reported that the automaker had ditched its efforts to develop the car and would look instead at developing autonomous taxis on the platform that would have underpinned it.

CEO Elon Musk has been beating the affordable EV drum for a while, telling investors in January that the car would enter production in Texas as soon as late 2025. The automaker doesn’t have a communications or PR department to respond to inquiries, but Musk posted on X, saying, “Reuters is lying (again).”

The car, which was projected to start in the mid-$20,000 range, would have helped Tesla compete against the increasingly fierce Chinese auto industry. Companies like BYD have built impressive electric vehicle catalogs in recent years, and the automaker has been in a back-and-forth battle with Tesla for the top spot in global markets.

Tesla’s stock, which is more important than the cars for some people, tumbled 3 percent on the Reuters report. The decision was apparently made public, at least internally, in late February, with a source telling Reuters that “Elon’s directive is to go all-in on robotaxi.” Some said they felt optimistic about the call, saying that Musk believes that autonomous people movers are the “future of mobility.”

This course change is surprising and will undoubtedly cause quite a stir, but the truth remains that many automakers are losing serious money on EVs. That makes it exceptionally difficult to be profitable overall and raises questions about affordability for the foreseeable future. Raw materials and manufacturing remain significant financial hurdles to cross, so we’ll just have to wait and see if Elon’s decision is prescient or foolish.

[Image: Tesla]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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5 of 76 comments
  • Mcs Mcs on Apr 08, 2024

    The model 3 is using a brand new platform. I think the S may have been updated as well. The main problem with Tesla is that Musk is an arrogant idiot. That leads to all sorts of issues. Everything from lack of focus to alienating much of his customer base via twitter.

    As far as technology goes, Tesla (and everyone else) needs to get to 800-900 volt architecture ASAP on all it's vehicles. Not just Cybertruck and Semi. That's where the industry is going. Soon they'll be competing with vehicles like the NIO ET9 that can charge at a rate of 150 miles in 5 minutes. There are other benefits as well to 800-900v architecture.

    So, get rid of Musk, 900v architecture across the line, put the psuedo-FSD on the back burner, build a $25k car, and a Model Y based pickup. Above all, tell Elmo to go play with his other toys and to leave Tesla alone.

    • See 2 previous
    • EBFlex EBFlex on Apr 09, 2024

      "EB, you are correct to a degree Musk is having a negative influence on Tesla. X is a problem for him and his right wing agenda."

      You can't read. That's not what I said. And he doesn't have a "right-wing agenda".

      Why do you lie so much?

  • Dartman Dartman on Apr 08, 2024

    Musk is not the only problem, but certainly the biggest…

    CEOs job is not to generate “likes” and followers on social media and certainly is not to alienate a large percentage of your customers and potential customers. A CEOs job is to legally generate profits and shareholder value.

  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."
  • Jeff Does this really surprise anyone? How about the shoes and the clothes you wear. Anything you can think of that is either directly made in China or has components made in China likely has some slave labor involved. The very smart phone, tablet, and laptop you are using probably has some component in it that is either mined or made by slave labor. Not endorsing slave labor just trying to be real.
  • Jeff Self-driving is still a far ways from being perfected. I would say at the present time if my car took over if I had a bad day I would have a much worse day. Would be better to get an Uber
  • 2manyvettes Time for me to take my 79 Corvette coupe out of the garage and drive if to foil the forces of evil. As long as I can get the 8 track player working...