Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Long-Promised Robotaxi on Aug. 8

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Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Long-Promised Robotaxi on Aug. 8

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc. plans to unveil its long-promised robotaxi later this year as the electric carmaker struggles with weak sales and competition from cheap Chinese EVs.

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Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk posted Friday on X, his social media site, that Tesla’s robotaxi will be unveiled on Aug. 8.

Shares gained as much as 5.1% in postmarket trading in New York. Tesla’s stock has fallen 34% this year through Friday’s close. Shortly before Musk posted the news about the robotaxi, he lost the title of third-richest person in the world to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms Inc.

A fully autonomous vehicle, pitched to investors in 2019, has long been key to Tesla’s lofty valuation. In recent weeks, Tesla has rolled out the latest version of the driver-assistance software that it markets as FSD, or Full Self-Driving, to consumers.

The company has said that its next-generation vehicle platform will include both a cheaper car and a dedicated robotaxi. Though the company has teased both, it has yet to unveil prototypes of either. Musk’s Friday tweet indicates that the robotaxi is taking priority over the cheaper car, though both will be designed on the same platform.

Reuters reported earlier Friday that the carmaker had called off plans for the less-expensive vehicle and was shifting more resources toward trying to bring a robotaxi to market. Musk responded by saying “Reuters is lying,” without offering specifics.

Tesla also produced 46,561 more vehicles than it delivered in the first quarter, which has forced it to slash prices. US consumers have been turning away from more expensive EVs in favor of hybrid models, causing many manufacturers to rethink pushes to electrify their fleets.

Splashy product announcements by Musk have always been a key part of Tesla’s ability to gin up enthusiasm among customers and investors without spending on traditional advertising. They don’t always work: the company unveiled the Cybertruck to enormous fanfare in November 2019, but production was delayed for years and the ramp up of that vehicle has been slow.

–With assistance from Catherine Larkin.

(Updates with shares, additional context from third paragraph.)

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