Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company’s next-gen vehicle will operate almost entirely in autonomous mode, continuing a promise that investors and others have heard for years.
Musk appeared in a conference with Morgan Stanley on Tuesday to mostly discuss Twitter, but during the latter half of the event, some questions regarding Tesla and SpaceX were fielded by the CEO.
One question that surfaced was regarding the potential capabilities of the company’s next-gen vehicle, which was discussed last week during Tesla’s Investor Day event.
The vehicle, which will be built at Tesla’s newest factory in Mexico, is expected to operate “almost entirely in autonomous mode.” Tesla has been working to develop Full Self-Driving for several years, and Musk has routinely said for at least four years that Teslas would drive themselves. While the company has made remarkable progress on that front, the vehicles are still not capable of being fully autonomous.
Recently, Tesla said its Full Self-Driving Beta was an SAE Level 2 System, which means the driver is operating the vehicle and must constantly supervise the car so that the functions, like Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, and other features, can operate.
Tesla’s most crucial goal is autonomy, Musk said, after detailing that the next vehicle should cost roughly half of what the Model 3 would and that it would be geared toward self-driving.
Musk said Tesla has a clear path to developing a car that would be affordable to most, which is one way the automaker can help more people drive sustainable powertrains.
Musk did not offer a timeframe goal of when Tesla could roll out the new, next-gen vehicle, which will be a compact car. However, officials in Mexico believe Tesla could start building a vehicle, whether it’s the next-gen model or not, at the plant sometime next year.
At an event in 2020, known as Battery Day, Musk said that Tesla should be able to deliver a $25,000 fully autonomous vehicle “within the next three years:”
“So we’re confident that long-term we can design and manufacture a compelling $25,000 electric vehicle. This has always been our dream from the beginning of the company. I even wrote a blog piece about it because our first car was an expensive sports car, then it was a slightly less expensive sedan, and then finally sort of a, I don’t know, mass market premium, the Model 3 and Model Y. But it was always our goal to try to make an affordable electric car. And I think probably, like I said, about three years from now, we’re confident we can make a very compelling $25,000 electric vehicle that’s also fully autonomous.”