Last night, Tesla held a “Cyber Rodeo” to celebrate the Gigafactory that’s opening in Austin, TX. The invitation-only event saw thousands of attendees, fireworks, a drone light show, Elon Musk in a cowboy hat, and a list of manufacturing promises so long that you almost have to believe that one of them will actually come true.
Among these were claims that Cybertruck would undoubtedly enter into production in 2023, along with the similarly delayed electric semi and Roadster. The CEO also touted Tesla’s often-criticized Full Self Driving (FSD) as poised to revolutionize the world after its public beta test is expanded later this year. Robotaxis are also said to be in the works and a humanoid robot, named Optimus, will help usher in “an age of abundance.”
It’s a lot and would probably have really impressed us if we had not already learned to be highly skeptical of any promises issued by industry leadership. While no automaker can confidently be relied on to tell the whole truth, Tesla is infamous for shifting the goal post in terms of timing and often makes wild claims about its products to excite its acolytes. But it doesn’t seem to have hurt the company. Prolonged wait times only seem to make the masses hungrier and the rampant online speculation effectively serves as free advertising.
We may be able to follow companies to a point where we can point out every major indiscretion. But the rest of the public hasn’t the time, nor the interest, to mull over the shortcomings of FSD and whether or not Tesla’s business model is better or worse than what passes for standard with the rest of the industry. Warranted or not, the bottom line is that the automaker has the kind of profile legacy rivals clearly envy, and the company’s EVs account for roughly 80 percent of all purely electric vehicles that are currently registered in the United States.
The new factory in Austin serves as another tangible achievement for the brand. While the closed nature of the event means we’ll probably never know what type of hors d’oeuvres were served, we do know the Texas Gigafactory is something Elon Musk seems to be proud of.
“We are really entering a new phase of Tesla’s future,” the CEO told the crowd. “I can’t wait to see this baby in production, it’s going to be epic.”
With the primary vehicle factory in Fremont, California, battery facility in Sparks, Nevada, and solar factory in Buffalo, New York, this will be Tesla’s fourth production facility in North America. Musk stated that the new plant will lack some of the spatial restrictions of the overtaxed Fremont, allowing for larger vehicles to be manufactured. Production in Texas also means expanded capacity, with the company estimating 1.5 million units for 2022. That’s about 500,000 more than it managed to produce in 2021 and allegedly just the warm-up act.
The site actually started building Model Ys before the factory was even completed. But now that it’s officially open, Tesla plans to add the Model 3, Cybertruck, and all-electric semi-trucks. Situated on about 2,100 acres of land near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the manufacturer expects to hire up to 5,000 workers initially. But it’s expected that the plant will eventually see numbers rivaling Fremont once truck production begins.
For now, that’s estimated to take place sometime in 2023 — two years behind schedule.
As a consolation prize, Tesla said it would be hitting the gas on Full Self Driving by expanding the beta in 2022 and is working on a humanoid robot that would take whatever job flesh-and-blood people don’t want. Musk said the automaton would likely enter into production alongside Cybertruck next year. Formerly Tesla Bot, the project has been renamed Optimus and has been given heightened priority as a possible solution to labor shortages. Though some have suggested this may be a shrewd way of recruiting robotics and AI experts for its self-driving aspirations.
Riding on the same token will be those robotaxis automakers like to bring up every so often. Musk promised his would look quite futuristic and were still in active development. But that was the extent of the details Musk was willing to share. If any of the promises made at the Cyber Rodeo end up being swept under the rug, I would wager it would be the ones pertaining to robotics and AI.
But what do you think? Will 2023 be the year Tesla checks every single box and delivers on all promises or will this be another year of delayed gratification? Does that even matter for a brand that practically has the entire EV segment to itself?
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