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All-In On FSD: $25K Tesla Might Not Have A Steering Wheel Or Pedals

Tesla previously announced that it was planning to make an electric vehicle even more affordable than its Model 3 and a recent leak suggests the $25,000 car might rely solely on full self-driving capabilities, with no steering wheel and also lacking pedals. This sounds very futuristic and if the claim was made by any other company, it might be written off as science fiction. Tesla seems to thrive under the pressure of its CEO’s sometimes far-reaching claims and while plenty of those claims have yet to become reality, others have been achieved.

Way back in 2006, Tesla Founder Elon Musk laid out the company’s master plan, which consisted of four steps. The first was to build a sports car, then use the profits from those sales to develop a more affordable model, which in turn would fund an even lower-cost car, while simultaneously providing zero-emissions electric power generation options. In 2016, Musk took to the company blog to give an update, checking off all four boxes, only to add four more, including the solar roof with integrated battery storage, more electric vehicles to fill all segments, develop full self-driving (FSD) that is ten times safer than human drivers, and allow Tesla cars to make money when it isn’t in use. The company is well on the way to checking all of those boxes as well.

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Tesla’s FSD is still in beta and can’t be considered safer than a human driver by any stretch of the imagination, but a new goal might have just leaked via a company meeting, according to a recent report by Electrek. Unnamed sources that claim to have attended a company-wide meeting, indicate that Tesla is planning to start production of a new $25,000 electric car in 2023. Beyond the shockingly low price, which has been mentioned by Musk before, there are a few new details about the still-mythical vehicle that have surfaced. The sources suggest that Musk supposedly stated “Do we want to have this car come with a steering wheel and pedals?” New Tesla vehicles roll out of the factory with all of the hardware necessary to enable FSD, making it a software upgrade. This means autonomous capability doesn’t add any cost, however, removing equipment required for manual driving could lower costs.

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Manufacturing a Tesla electric vehicle for $25,000 will be a challenge and while the company has plans to dramatically lower battery costs, any opportunity to cut costs further will help eliminate the barriers that might prevent the production of such a low-cost car, rumored to be called the “Tesla Model 2.” By removing the option for a human to drive the car, all of the mechanisms that have to be routed from the motor and the wheels to the interior controls could be removed, lowering weight and cutting expenses. This could be a brilliant way to make the supposed Model 2 a profitable car to sell, which is important in order to sustain high-volume production.

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These claims, if true, depend upon Tesla developing its full self-driving system to a level of reliability that government regulators would approve of. Some FSD vehicles are allowed to roam U.S. roads currently, but these are considered research vehicles, such as Waymo’s taxi service which was restricted to Phoenix for several years and only recently expanded to San Fransisco. Tesla’s FSD is not yet considered autonomous, even though it works well in many situations. With the current beta version, it is still simply an advanced driver assist option that requires a human to be ready to take over at a moment’s notice. For Tesla to begin making a $25,000 Tesla that has no steering wheel or pedals, and do so within two years, it needs to speed up FSD improvements. The good news is that given the estimated processing power of its new Dojo chip-powered artificial intelligence system, that just might happen.

Source: ScreenRant, Electrek

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