Elon Musk promises a $25,000, fully autonomous Tesla ‘about 3 years from now’

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Elon Musk announced a future $US25,000 EV at Tesla’s ‘Battery Day’ event. Tesla on YouTube
  • At Tesla’s “Battery Day” presentation on Tuesday, CEO Elon Musk said he expects the company to be able to make a “fully autonomous,” $US25,000 electric car in about three years.
  • He offered no specifics about the vehicle, such as whether it would be a sedan, crossover, or other body style.
  • The price would potentially undercut lower-priced EVs currently on the market, such as the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf.
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If the Tesla Model 3 — lauded for its claimed entry price point of $US35,000, but marred with pricing issues — wasn’t cheap enough for you, CEO Elon Musk has a new project in the pipeline: a $US25,000, fully autonomous electric vehicle that will be feasible for his company to make “about three years from now.”

Musk announced the car during Tesla’s “Battery Day” presentation on Tuesday, as he stood in front of a presentation slide illustrated by a car draped in a white sheet. He offered no specifics about the vehicle, such as if it would be a sedan or a crossover, or how it would fit into his current “S3XY” naming scheme, before he shifted to talking up the Model S Plaid.

“We’re confident that long term, we can design and manufacture a compelling $US25,000 electric vehicle,” Musk said — a statement met with honks from an audience sitting in rows of parked Teslas.

“This has always been our dream, from the beginning of the company,” he continued. “I even wrote a blog piece about it, because our first car was an expensive sports car, then a slightly less expensive sedan, and then finally, sort of a mass-market [model] like the Model 3 and Model Y.”

Musk added that the car is about three years away, and that it would be “fully autonomous.” But it should be noted that Musk’s claims about autonomy and timelines in general have a habit of falling behind schedule.

In 2015, he said his guess for when the company would have full autonomy was in “approximately three years.” The next year, Musk said a Tesla would be able to drive itself autonomously across the US by the end of 2017. That has yet to happen.

Musk said in early 2019 that he expected Teslas to be able to operate without driver intervention by 2020, but full autonomy has yet to reach the market.

Still, a Tesla more affordable than the Model 3 is in the works, putting the company on track to potentially undercut cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt, and to help the electric automaker reach more buyers.

“Just making a car super desirable but expensive does not mean they can afford it,” Musk said. “So it’s absolutely important, critical that we make cars that people can actually afford.”