At the huge party thrown at Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas yesterday, Elon Musk made several interesting comments, including one regarding a Tesla robotaxi.
The CEO announced on stage that Tesla is going to build a new standalone electric vehicle designed as a "dedicated robotaxi." He mentioned this towards the end of his speech, as the presentation reached the "What's Next" chapter (check video above).
"There's going to be a dedicated robotaxi that's going to look quite futuristic."
That's all Elon Musk said about the Tesla robotaxi, which was first mentioned in his Master Plan Part Deux, published in 2016. At the time, the Tesla CEO suggested that the robotaxis would be regular Teslas with full self-driving capability.
At the 2019 Autonomy Day, Musk talked about robotaxis some more, but it was still understood that these would be consumer Tesla vehicles. For example, owners would be able to deploy their cars for ride-sharing services.
Now, however, Tesla appears to explore a dedicated vehicle for its robotaxi service. Musk's statement hints that Tesla is thinking of using a newly designed vehicle for the role.
It’s interesting that Musk used the word "futuristic" to describe the looks of Tesla’s robotaxi; the last vehicle he used it for was the Cybertruck. Obviously, that doesn’t mean the robotaxi will look similar to the Cybertruck.
Unfortunately, it's hard to say when Tesla plans to launch its robotaxi as the company has got a lot on its plate right now. Musk said during the Cyber Rodeo event that production of the Cybertruck and Semi will start in Austin in 2023, with the Roadster also to enter production next year.
Elon Musk even said that the humanoid robot project, Optimus, could enter production next year in Version 1.
Tesla also has a lot of work to do with its Full Self-Driving software, with Musk saying that the company's goal is for everyone in North America who bought the FSD package to get access to the beta program.
It's safe to say that the robotaxi project will take a back seat to all these projects, so we might not see or hear much of it in the near future.