It’ll have absolutely no means of controlling steering because it won’t need any. Instead, the user (you can’t really call them drivers anymore, can you?) will input a destination – or just put their finger on the map – and the car will take them there. And all this will happen by the end of 2023. Well, at least in Elon Musk’s alternate universe it will.
Do you have a strong feeling of déjà vu? Weren’t we supposed to have been doing that already for a few years now? Shouldn’t have the streets be swarming with Tesla’s robo-taxis by now? Shouldn’t our cars make money for us while we don’t need them by ferrying around those unfortunate enough not to own their own Tesla? Is anyone still taking everything Musk says seriously?
In case you’re wondering what we’re on about, apologies, we got a little carried away. We should have led with what the Tesla CEO said. Apparently, during an all-hands-on-deck meeting at Tesla last night, the supreme leader talked, among other things, about the company’s upcoming $25,000 model.
The last significant mention of Tesla’s smallest and most affordable EV came during last year’s Battery Day when Elon Musk reiterated the small hatchback was still very much on the cards. Yesterday, the CEO also provided a timeline for its release, and it should be no surprise that it’s in two years from now (2023). With the Roadster announced for the same period and the Cybertruck also delayed for late 2022, early 2023, Tesla employees should really think about canceling any plans they might have outside the company for that year.
However, believe it or not, it’s not the timeline itself that’s the most eyebrow-raising detail of Elon Musk’s speech, but the fact he suggested the car will launch with no steering wheel and no pedals. No, it’s not cost-cutting, just Elon Musk’s way of making there is no doubt over the fact the car can drive itself.
Do you see any problems with that plan? Better yet, can you imagine any scenario in which that might actually happen? As far as we know, vehicles are required by law to have some sort of steering device to be allowed on streets, and even if Musk were to launch the mother of all lobbies, we doubt he’d be able to change the regulations so quickly.
Assuming Tesla did crack autonomous driving by then – which it shows no evidence that it will, but we’ll go with it – there are regulatory hurdles that will prevent such a car from ever turning a wheel on a public road. Rest assured, either the electric hatchback won’t come by 2023 or it will have a steering wheel (or yoke, or whatever Musk will feel like by then) just like the rest of the vehicles on sale.
If we were to bet, we’d say the $25,000 will be pushed further back. As it always did until now, Tesla will focus on the vehicles with a higher profit margin. Since the 4680 cell is key for all upcoming products (Roadster, Cybertruck, Semi, hatchback) and the supply will be limited, expect high-volume low-profit models to take a back seat. If there will even be a back seat.
The name of the small EV has not been revealed, but it has been confirmed that it won’t be “Model 2”. The only reason Tesla went for the “3” was that Ford had “Model E” trademarked, so the EV maker will stick to letters instead of numbers for its nameplates.
Finally, before we sign off, we’d like to share a tweet with you that was posted in response to people complaining about the lack of a steering wheel. User @ethschizo wrote this: “If you like steering wheels that much, just don’t buy a Tesla. Plenty of car brands out there.” We don’t know how you feel about steering wheels, but we feel that’s excellent – if a bit obvious – advice.
• Elon said Tesla is considering Model 2 not having steering wheel and pedals and just roll the dice on FSD
— Sawyer Merritt ???????? (@SawyerMerritt) September 3, 2021