Inaugurated by the Cyber Rodeo event, Tesla has opened its new factory in Austin, Texas, not far from its new headquarters. With the recently opened Gigafactory in Berlin, the American electric car brand is ready to double its output and grow to 2 million vehicles annually. And yes, as usual, Elon Musk made some bold announcements about robotaxis and humanoid robots.
Elon Musk, dressed in sunglasses and a cowboy hat, called it “the biggest party on earth”. With the facilities in Austin ready for production, Tesla now has four production sites for its cars, spread over three different continents. The plant joins the Gigafactories in Freemont, California, Shanghai, China, and Grünheide, Germany. Some 15 000 invitees attended the Cyber Rodeo event.
The new factory is an essential addition for Tesla, still leading in the EV luxury segment with demand surpassing supply. It is also good news since the Shanghai facility is experiencing a prolonged shutdown because of Chinese lockdown measures.
Cybertruck in 2023
In Austin, Tesla will manufacture more accessible versions of the Model Y. But the factory is also scheduled to build the Cybertruck and the Semi truck. Musk announced that the former will be shipped next year and feature no handles. “The car will know you’re there and open its doors automatically,” said Musk.
The Cybertruck was already unveiled more than two years ago and has been delayed several times, paving the way for Ford to beat the pioneer with the F-150 Lightning as the first electric pick-up available in the North-American market.
Musk said that this year is about ‘extreme scaling’. With the plant in Austin up and running, Tesla will be capable of leveraging its annual output to two million vehicles. Last year, the company built 930 422 cars.
However, Elon Musk also unveiled some details about future products. He said that his company would develop a futuristic dedicated robotaxi. The vehicle will feature science fiction looks but will be exclusively used for self-driving taxi services. This purpose pushes the design boundaries because it does away with a cockpit for a human driver. Nothing was mentioned about timing.
But the CEO of Tesla did acknowledge that he wants to see the humanoid bot Optimus go into production next year. Musk has been accelerating the priority level of this project, but the timing seems overtly ambitious – as it usually is with Tesla. At the event, he said: “I think we have a shot at being in production for version 1 of Optimus hopefully next year”.
The Optimus robot is designed to perform repetitive or dangerous tasks that humans dislike doing. Musk commented: “It will transform the world to a degree even greater than our cars”.