Let’s speculate wildly about Tesla’s three mystery vehicles

Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased three new vehicles during his presentation at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday — one more than what he showed off during the Master Plan Part 3 event last year.

In a slide showing the company’s current lineup — Models S, X, 3, Y, the Tesla Semi, and Cybertruck — three shrouded vehicles were also included.

“Obviously we’ve got some new products that we’re working on under the covers,” Musk said. “I think these are going to be pretty special.”

“Obviously we’ve got some new products that we’re working on under the covers.”

And that was basically it. No other details were divulged. Sure, Musk was in a giddy mood considering his shareholders just handed him a victory by reapproving his enormous $50 billion compensation package. But even the world’s most hyperbolic CEO stayed tight-lipped about what was in the pipeline.

So let’s speculate. One of those vehicles is probably the robotaxi, which Musk has said will get a proper reveal on August 8th. He even gave it a new name during a recent earnings call: “Cybercab.”

Which one do we think is the robotaxi? I’m guessing it’s the one on the far right, closest to the Cybertruck. Musk is going to want to pair his two most futuristic vehicles together like two low-poly peas in a pod.

A slide from last year’s Master Plan Part 3 presentation.
Image: Tesla

But then again, maybe the robotaxi is the more van-shaped vehicle on the left. If this is Tesla’s first purpose-built autonomous vehicle, the one made for the ridehailing network that Musk has described as a cross between Uber and Airbnb, wouldn’t they want something a bit more high capacity — something that can squeeze in more passengers than a Model Y? Waymo’s first robotaxi was a Chrysler Pacifica minivan. It would be pretty hilarious if Tesla followed suit by introducing its own robot van.

During the presentation, a shareholder asked Musk whether he would make a more high volume electric van with enough room for 13 passengers. Musk laughed and said he would “add it to my list.”

Tesla has dropped hints about a van before. In its Master Plan Part Deux, the company said it was developing “high passenger-density urban transport” and also suggested that autonomous buses could be deployed. I happen to think both of those ideas are fully dead given Musk’s notorious disdain for public transportation. But in Master Plan Part 3, the company lists “bus” and “commercial/passenger vans” as “TBD.” So maybe it’s not dead?

So, if the robotaxi is on the right and the boxy vehicle on the left is some kind of van, what’s that vehicle in the upper left? Could it be the long-awaited refreshed Tesla Roadster? Or is it some kind of compact, more affordable “Model 2”?

The saga of the Model 2 — a name that Musk has never confirmed — has been a rollercoaster. Tesla bulls and investors have been trying to will it into existence for years, even though Musk has never really been fully on board. Even as far back as the Master Plan Part Deux (released in 2016), Musk said that a lower-cost vehicle cheaper than the Model 3 “is unlikely to be necessary.”

Earlier this year, Musk was basically bullied by investors into recommitting to the Model 2, promising lower-cost models in the years to come. But the man is clearly tired of running a car company.

To him, AI and robots are the future. During yesterday’s presentation, he spent several minutes excitedly discussing Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robots — while barely paying lip service to the company’s actual vehicular products. In his mind, Tesla’s future won’t be rolling on four wheels but, rather, walking on two legs.


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