Tesla prioritizes robot production over EVs

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Cybertruck was originally slated for a 2022 rollout, but has since taken a back seat to various challenges including Tesla's Optimus robot.
Cybertruck was originally slated for a 2022 rollout, but has since taken a back seat to various challenges including Tesla's Optimus robot.
Tesla

Don’t expect to see the Tesla Cybertruck, Semi or any new model from the EV manufacturer anytime soon.

During Tesla’s Q4 shareholder presentation today, CEO Elon Musk said production on any new model wouldn’t get underway until at least 2023.

While Musk has frequently pointed to supply chain challenges and a battery shortage for stalling truck production, today the world’s wealthiest person said affordability was another challenge at least for their pickup.

“How do we make Cybertruck affordable?” Musk asked and then added that he’d like to eventually produce 250,000 units per year.

[Related: Cybertruck debut recalls protractor obsession and horror classic Phantasm]

When asked about the fate of Tesla’s proposed $25K car, Musk said the company is not currently pursuing development because they have “too much on their plate right now.”

So about that plate… In what might be a surprising twist and disappointment for EV fans, Musk actually placed more value on producing robots.

“In terms of priority for our product, I think the most important product development we’re doing this year is the Optimus humanoid robot,” Musk said. “This has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.”

Musk cited labor needs as a driving force behind his robotic worker bees.

“The foundation of the economy is labor,” he said. “So what happens when you actually don’t have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point.”

Optimus droids, which Musk hopes to bring to production next year, will initially begin working for Tesla. Musk didn’t elaborate on the impact such a transition would have on his non-union workers. Yikes! Luddite redux coming?

In other auto news, Musk said, “I will be shocked” if full self-driving is not available by the end of the year. That could prove to be good news for Tesla’s car insurance division which had a  successful year in Texas and will be rolling out to additional states and eventually Europe.

Musk sees self-driving technology as a way to reduce losses at the hands of less-than-astute drivers who fall prey to texting, dozing off, etc. while driving.

"It's a marvel we don't have more accidents," he said.