In a fascinating revelation from Walter Isaacson’s biographical work on Elon Musk, fresh insights into Tesla’s next-generation vehicle platform have emerged. This revelation includes plans that diverge from Tesla’s initial announcements regarding the build location of this innovative platform.
Elon Musk, the visionary behind Tesla, has long harbored a desire to create the next-generation electric vehicle (EV) platform, specifically designed for self-driving cars. While Tesla had earlier announced intentions to construct this new EV platform at an upcoming Gigafactory in Mexico, Isaacson’s account suggests that Musk had a change of heart. In May, Musk decided to relocate the initial production site of this groundbreaking robotaxi platform to Gigafactory Austin. The reason behind this change? Musk stated, “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,” underscoring the importance of proximity between engineers and the assembly process.
Though Giga Mexico is still poised to become the manufacturing hub for Tesla’s next-gen EVs, Isaacson’s account underscores Musk’s determination to have the automaker’s design engineers in close physical proximity to the production process. This shift will enable engineers to offer real-time feedback. Instead of moving these engineers to Giga Mexico, Musk opted to move the initial production of the new platform to Tesla’s headquarters at Giga Texas.
Samuel García Sepúlveda, the governor of Nuevo León, the Mexican state where Giga Mexico will be located, previously revealed that Tesla plans to establish a production line from the ground up to manufacture Tesla’s $25,000 compact car just outside of Monterrey. Despite the relocation of the initial production for the upcoming EV to Giga Texas, this detail remains unchanged. Notably, Giga Texas serves as both Tesla’s headquarters and Elon Musk’s primary workspace, boasting a high-speed assembly line with advanced automation features.
According to another report by Isaacson in Axios, the upcoming robotaxi EV platform is expected to draw inspiration from the Cybertruck, sharing the same architectural foundation as the $25,000 car design. These EVs are anticipated to bear striking similarities, even sharing the same assembly line. However, a key distinction between the two mass-market EVs is that the robotaxi may not include a steering wheel, unlike its passenger vehicle counterpart.
Isaacson also provides insights from a design review session that took place in February, where Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, presented the $25,000 car design alongside the robotaxi design. Musk’s response was one of enthusiasm, particularly regarding their futuristic, Cybertruck-inspired aesthetics. “When one of these comes around a corner, people will think they are seeing something from the future,” Musk exclaimed during the meeting.
Yet, Isaacson’s account suggests that Musk’s enthusiasm is significantly higher for the robotaxi project compared to the $25,000 car. This heightened excitement stems from Musk’s grand vision of redefining transportation through the self-driving vehicle platform. According to von Holzhausen, the Tesla team had to persuade Musk to employ the same vehicle architecture for both the $25,000 vehicle and the robotaxi design. Musk had previously commented, “It’s really not that exciting of a product,” in reference to the mass-market EV.