Home » Musk Reiterates Tesla’s Small Car Will Be $25,000 (Sure, Maybe) And Mostly Autonomous (LOL Come On)

Musk Reiterates Tesla’s Small Car Will Be $25,000 (Sure, Maybe) And Mostly Autonomous (LOL Come On)

New Project

Listen, I don’t like the “Elon said a thing” story framing any more than you do, but a reality check for all involved is a good and healthy thing to do from time to time. We’ll do that today with the latest claims around Tesla’s forthcoming affordable car, and we’ll look at the EV drama unfolding in Europe, what General Motors is doing with Ultra Cruise, and the reviews of Ferrari’s controversial V12 SUV. Happy Wednesday.

Sure, Elon

Tesla Master Plan Topshot

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Tesla’s Investor Day thing last week was quite light on concrete details, but we’ve known for some time that the company wants to make a more affordable vehicle than even the Model 3 (which, it should be noted, was supposed to be $35,000 and never really has been.) [Editor’s Note: Patrick is right, though I’ll just mention: The Model 3 remains an amazing deal, especially after incentives. The current $42,990 price isn’t much more than $35,000 in 2018 dollars (when the car debuted), and after incentives, it can be had in certain states for under $35,000 in today’s dollars. -DT]. 

For the record, I think Tesla is fully capable of pulling this off: making a smaller, cheaper EV that’s around $25,000. Its EV manufacturing has gotten to the point where even Toyota is impressed, its profit margins are much higher than other automakers, and China’s doing this all the time with EVs now. It can be done. (Musk has said part of the battle is even further simplifying EV design and modifying construction processes, something I’ve heard Henrik Fisker say as well.)

Now, let’s get to the reality check part. Here’s the newest claim from Musk about the cheap Tesla, via Reuters, emphasis mine:


On Tuesday he said there was a clear path to delivering a car that costs half as much to build as Tesla’s Model 3 sedan, but he offered no details about timing or models.

At the 2020 event, Musk said he was “confident” that Tesla would make a small, compelling $25,000 electric car that was fully autonomous, within about three years.

Oh, honey. With all of the challenges facing Autopilot and Full Self-Driving these days, including the regulatory crackdowns and the lawsuits? Let’s just be more cautious than optimistic there. Also for the record: there’s no way in hell this will happen, full stop.

There’s also this part:

However, in January during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Musk said the automaker had stopped work for now on a compact EV.

“We have enough on our plate right now — too much on our plate frankly,” Musk said at the time.

Hey Elon, is that really “we,” or is it “I”? Because it seems more like the latter these days.

Ultra Cruisin’

Cadillac Celestiq 303

Now, let’s chat autonomy (or rather, advanced automated driving assistance) that may actually be something real. GM is soon set to deploy its Ultra Cruise hands-free driving system for city streets on the new Cadillac Celestiq mega-luxe sedan. It’s like Super Cruise, right? But better. Because it’s ultra instead of super.


Anyway, here’s why Ultra Cruise isn’t taking the Tesla approach, from chief engineer Jason Ditman to Automotive News:

The limitations that GM is revealing for the system — and its repetition of the phrase “safely deploy” — show that the automaker is taking a different tack than Tesla, which is under investigation for accidents involving the semiautonomous features it calls Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. GM said Ultra Cruise can tackle 95 percent of driving scenarios.

Instead of just using cameras, as Tesla does, GM said its system combines seven long-range cameras with more than 20 sensors. It uses short- and long-range radar, lidar behind the windshield and a camera atop the steering column to monitor whether the driver is paying attention.

Ditman said GM has not begun testing Ultra Cruise on public roads but that the system will be fully vetted before its release, in contrast to Tesla’s reliance on its customers as Full Self-Driving beta testers.

The other beta testers are the hapless drivers on the street who may cross paths with an errant Autopilot car, or the people inside the Arby’s where it inevitably decides to park itself. So it’s great to see GM going so very advanced—and cautious—as it levels up its driver-assist systems.

The Inflation Reduction Act Hits Europe Hard

Cs Idbuzz Windmill

The goal of the Inflation Reduction Act was not only to modernize the outdated EV credit system, but to stimulate EV and battery production in North America. So far, it’s working. Lots of automakers are changing their plans to build both of those things here so that they can take advantage of lucrative tax incentives.

Much of that plan was formed to hit back at China, a hostile peer state that was poised to have a monopoly on the future of electrified transportation. But it’s also having a similar effect on Europe. Volkswagen now says it’s waiting to hear what incentives, if any, Europe could offer before moving forward with more battery plants on that continent. It may prefer to do them here in America instead, reports Reuters:


“De facto it is the case that we are getting ahead far faster in North America,” a person close to the matter said to Reuters, declining to be named.

The Financial Times previously reported that Volkswagen was pausing plans for a battery plant in eastern Europe, the next expected plant in the region, and prioritising building a plant in North America where it could reap 9-10 billion euros ($10.54 billion) in subsidies.

[…] Volkswagen board member Thomas Schmall posted on LinkedIn last week that Europe risked losing “the race for billions of investments that will be decided in coming months and years” to the attractive conditions offered by the IRA.

Given the size of VW’s EV transition—arguably the biggest of any legacy automaker—this is a pretty big deal. It also comes at a time when Europen government officials are increasingly fearful of losing their auto industry jobs; EVs need far less parts and labor to build than ICE cars, and cheap EV competition from China is coming in hot. My guess is the EU will figure out its own version of the IRA soon, lest it be left in the dust.

Blasphemy, Or Just A Good Time?

Purosangue 4

Finally, reviews are out today for the Ferrari Purosangue SUV, and guess what? It’s good. Of course it is! It’s a Ferrari with a naturally aspirated V12, and I don’t remember hearing anybody complain about the experience in a Porsche Cayenne. Did you think Ferrari would screw this up?

Here’s friend of the site Kristen Lee at Motor Trend about how Ferrari got this thing right:

Ferrari knew its response to the SUV marketplace’s siren song must be different. It gave its creation coach doors, sure, but mostly the appeal is “because V-12.” It’s an engine type as inherent to the marque as the prancing horse logo. Ferrari has twin-turbo V-8s and hybrid setups it could have used; its representatives refuse to comment on whether those powertrains will eventually make it into future Purosangue models. For now, the naturally aspirated V-12 is all anyone will get. Twist our arms.

Like it or not, the Purosangue is here, but at least it’s armed with the best of what Ferrari has to offer. It’s a striking vehicle that’s fabulously athletic and comfortable to boot. There’s no shortage of super SUVs, but this one’s old school, where old school means 12 cylinders and a hell of a lot of noise. This is the Ferrari way.

I, personally, am not offended by the existence of the Purosangue; as someone not apt to spend $400,000 on an SUV, it has no bearing on my life whatsoever. I’m just amazed Ferrari didn’t do this years ago. And the end product is more true to the spirit of the company than whatever Lotus is doing these days.


Your Turn

What car coming out soon are you most excited about? It can be new debuts like the Purosangue (I would not say no to a couple hours in that thing) or even speculative concepts like the allegedly $25,000 Tesla. But what floats your boat lately?

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Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago


There’s a lot I didn’t love about this generation’s interior and I hear there are big changes comin’ on that front. I hope that weird slick-panel setup went away in favor of real buttons. I’d live with a Taycan-style screen, but like, commit, Porsche. COMMIT. Pick one approach or the other, not a weird backlit panel with no tactile differentiation between set buttons. (I’m hoping for buttons, though. Always buttons. The second-gen Cayenne got this right.)

Uncle D
Uncle D
1 year ago

So FSD is currently a $15k option, so I guess that means the “$25k Tesla” will be $40k with FSD. Hopefully, when the vehicle finally comes out, FSD will, at least, be able to recognize stop signs and traffic signals. There’s no chance it will be the robotaxi that was promised years ago.

1 year ago
Reply to  Uncle D

yeah most people shopping for a 25k car are not interested in a 15-20k option
If they open up to new markets that are interested in a lower price point and also are nowhere near receiving a functional FSD, it doesn’t really make sense to design the car around self driving (although I don’t know exactly what they mean, retractable pedal/steering wheel? ) or equip all cars with expensive fsd hardware

1 year ago

“Instead of just using cameras, as Tesla does,”
This is wrong but i dont blame you.No one bothers to check if something Musk once said has actually happened.I mean given his random pronouncements who would, right?

So anyways, it appears that strategy never went anywhere and they seem to be backtracking.Last time i looked they were using a mix of systems which varied depending on the model

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x