Tesla is reportedly preparing to build a $25,000 electric car built on the company’s next-generation engineering platform. Axios reports that Elon Musk biographer Walter Isaacson has detailed the plan to build a $25,000 electric car alongside an autonomous robotaxi that could ferry passengers around.
The $25,000 car reportedly has a futuristic design like the long-delayed Cybertruck — the angular pickup truck that Tesla first revealed in 2019. The Cybertruck will supposedly begin production this year, with production-at-scale beginning in 2024.
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing about Tesla’s plans for a $25,000 electric car. Musk promised one in 2018, saying it would be possible within three years. The goal for a more affordable EV was reiterated again in 2020. The Model 3 was also promised to be $35,000, but it debuted at that hard to find price for a few months before Tesla killed its original plan in favor of a new, more expensive strategy.
Musk had reportedly been pushing for a truly autonomous robotaxi instead of his original $25,000 electric car plan. The robotaxis are designed to reduce reliance on car ownership, with no mirrors, no pedals, and no steering wheel and would make the $25,000 car unnecessary. “[The robotaxi] is the product that makes Tesla a ten-trillion company,” he told Isaacson. “People will be talking about this moment in a hundred years.”
Tesla’s engineers were skeptical about the project, debating whether to create a robotaxi with a steering wheel that could be removed later — fearing Full Self-Driving (FSD) wouldn’t be ready or regulators would not approve such a car. After quietly keeping the $25,000 EV plan alive as a separate project, the engineers eventually convinced Musk that Tesla could build a mass-market vehicle, one sold for $25,000 with a steering wheel and one as a robotaxi, on the company’s “next-generation” engineering platform.
Musk reportedly came on board earlier this year after seeing the design that Tesla engineers had created. Engineers presented a robotaxi and the $25,000 EV next to each other, with both reportedly sporting a “Cybertruck futuristic feel” that Musk approved of. “When one of these comes around a corner,” he said, “people will think they are seeing something from the future.”
Design drawings for a compact electric car were briefly shown in a Tesla corporate video earlier this year, leading many to speculate they could be part of Tesla’s plans for a $25,000 electric car.
So when will this $25,000 EV actually be available? That’s never certain when it comes to Tesla, and the excerpt from Isaacson’s upcoming biography of Musk doesn’t provide any hints at a launch date. Tesla’s top engineers are working in Austin, Texas alongside a high-speed automated assembly line in an attempt to build these next-generation cars and robotaxis at volume. It’s all part of a manufacturing push to reduce battery costs and make the aim of a $25,000 mass-market Tesla a reality.