First Glimpse of Tesla's Mythical $25,000 Car? [Video]

By Kevin Armstrong
CBS airs video with von Holzhausen working on a concept car
CBS airs video with von Holzhausen working on a concept car
CBS

Did we see a mock-up of the Tesla $25,000 car? Buzz surged as the Sunday Morning Show on CBS aired a story on Elon Musk, centering around Walter Isaacson's biography and leveraging the occasion to interview Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla's Chief Designer. Though von Holzhausen kept his cards close to his chest, offering no new insights, the story unveiled a significant potential revelation.

On-screen, viewers caught a glimpse of von Holzhausen in front of what seemed to be a preliminary design for a compact two-seater vehicle, spawning a whirlpool of speculations. The setting further fueled the mystery, with wall-mounted renderings depicting a three-wheel vehicle resembling some Cybertruck details, teasing the possibilities of what might be in store.

Tesla through Isaacson’s lens

According to exclusive excerpts shared with Axios from Isaacson's highly awaited book, the Tesla team is not only toiling away at the elusive $25,000 vehicle but is meticulously considering its integration with the ambitious Robotaxi service. Throughout 2021 and 2022, Elon Musk and his adept team ventured into deep dialogues, navigating through myriad concepts and features aiming to redefine transportation with this groundbreaking vehicle.

The vision fostered was colossal, envisioning a future dominated by autonomous “Robotaxis,” a change so profound it threatens to consign individual car ownership to history’s scrapyard. In this brave new world, personal vehicles give way to readily available Robotaxis, eradicating the necessity for personal garages brimming with unused cars.

Revelations from Isaacson’s forthcoming book

Yet, as Isaacson unfolds in his biography, amidst the grand envisioning of a Robotaxi future, Musk’s team remained grounded, recognizing the present need for affordable electric vehicles, thus breathing life back into the $25,000 car concept. This vehicle seeks to marry affordability with avant-garde technology, aspiring to extend the reach of electric vehicles to a wider swath of society.

Titled "Elon Musk," Isaacson's tome promises a deep dive into the genesis of this revolutionary vehicle, a venture that saw Musk grapple with the dual challenges of adhering to Tesla's renowned quality standards while catering to a broader demographic. It stands as a testimony to Musk's relentless drive to push the frontiers of technology and innovation.

Questions swirl: what form will this $25,000 vehicle take? Can it genuinely revolutionize personal transportation? Gleaning insights through Isaacson’s meticulous narration fan the flames of anticipation and grant readers an intimate portrayal of the mastermind, Elon Musk.

Walter Isaacson's Thoughts on Elon Musk

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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