Tesla hosted a “Cyber Rodeo” kickoff event at its new Giga Texas factory outside of Austin, which officially opened April 7. CEO Elon Musk took to the stage (late) after 9 p.m. local time wearing dark sunglasses and a cowboy hat to give a rambunctious crowd of Tesla fans an update on the automaker’s plans—but mostly to boast about how big the Giga Texas factory is, how many cars it might someday make, and how Tesla—which Musk admits currently enjoys perhaps 1 percent of the global new car market—aims to grab 20 percent of worldwide car sales through a process of scaling “to extreme size.” Most of the product news, outside of some timing promises, had been previously made public and therefore wasn’t really new.
First, the Giga Texas factory. It will build the Model Y crossover initially, and the goal is to build half a million of them annually in Texas. Musk also waxed on about how the idea of a huge factory under one roof is better than the sprawling, disjointed complex in Fremont, California, where Teslas were first were mass-produced. As Musk put it, simplifying things a bit, “raw materials in, bunch of stuff happens, cars out,” referring to the flow of parts and materials into the car factory and, lo and behold, cars leaving said factory. Never mind this is how car factories generally work, the crowd went wild.
There are some impressive aspects to the factory beyond its 1 million square feet or the tidbit Musk threw out there about it being the largest building in the world by volume (Tesla’s claim, not ours), before noting 194 billion hamsters could fit inside. Tesla has acquired the world’s largest casting machine, and the company’s new 4680 battery cells are going to be produced on site, a nifty bit of vertical integration that dovetails with the apparently simplified-to-produce Model Y also built there.
So, What About the Cybertruck?
After apologizing for the Cybertruck’s delay(s), Musk told the crowd that the electric pickup truck that’s shaped like a doorstop will go into production in Texas next year. That’s about two years behind schedule, following multiple delays, so we’re not holding our breath for the newest timetable to hold. And that was before Musk mentioned the also-long-delayed new Roadster sports car and the also-delayed Tesla Semi truck would also go into production next year. Given how few Tesla production promises are kept, we suggest breathing normally until there’s a hint those products are actually about to happen.
A seemingly updated, closer-to-production Cybertruck appeared on stage—with who else but Franz von Holzhausen, the designer most famous for breaking the original Cybertruck’s unbreakable glass windows live in front of an audience—at the wheel. After hopping out to show off the prototype’s lack of door handles (the truck will allegedly detect users and just … open its doors for them), Musk joked that von Holzhausen was there because he was “gonna smash the window again.” Von Holzhausen demurred on throwing objects at the prototype this time. Tesla’s stock valuation is likely happy he did so—as they say in Texas, “bless your heart.”
An Age of Abundance?
Tesla hopes to grow aggressively in the coming years as a means to an end: spreading sustainability. The automaker is hoping to make a real difference in auto manufacturing—building cars locally (less shipping), sourcing materials responsibly, and more environmentally friendly painting techniques—and feels the way to help that be more impactful is if it gobbles up market share from less sustainable competitors.
That heady goal was lost somewhat among Musk’s late-in-the-show aside about Tesla’s non-automotive projects, namely the Optimus AI robot, which—if you’d like another Tesla product launch deadline to watch the company probably miss—will go into production “hopefully next year.” Musk declared the robot will be “safe” and ready to take on tasks “humans don’t want to do.” He followed this only semi-reassuring sales pitch for a humanoid, sentient robot with the exclamation that it’ll usher in “an age of abundance.”
Oh, and there also will be a “dedicated robotaxi” coming from Tesla, though the timeline on that was murky. Musk did point out that the self-driving car will “look quite futuristic.”
The company’s Full Self Driving (FSD) feature is slated to roll out in beta form beyond its current limited group of customer-testers to all FSD customers (those who have purchased the not-yet-available, not-fully-operational FSD feature with their new Tesla) this year, too. It will remain in beta form, but by rolling out to every customer, Tesla is ensuring the continued wobbly PR it’s been getting for putting a non-final software out into the world that users are treating like a fully autonomous system. A number of FSD-related snafus, near misses, and other examples of the system’s limitations (and misuse) have been popping up in twitter feeds and on YouTube videos since Tesla opened the beta to select users in 2020.
Watch the event stream below: