By Hyunjoo Jin
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said on Thursday the automaker will expand its “Full Self-Driving (FSD)” beta software to all North American FSD subscribers this year and promised a “dedicated robotaxi”, without giving details.
The 50-year-old billionaire, wearing a black cowboy hat and sunglasses, made the comments at a party to mark the opening of Tesla’s $1.1 billion factory in Texas – home to its new headquarters.
“Massive scale. Full self-driving. There’s going to be a dedicated robotaxi,” Musk said, referring to self-driving taxis.
Musk has previously missed his targets to achieve full autonomy and launch robotaxis. He said in 2019 that robotaxis with no human drivers would be available in some U.S. markets in 2020.
Tesla currently sells its advanced driver assistance systems, marketed as “Full Self-Driving,” for $10,000, with a promise to deliver more features in the future. Tesla says the software does not make its vehicles autonomous, and requires supervision from drivers. The beta version, launched in late 2020, is designed to enable cars to better navigate city streets.
Musk said Tesla has started deliveries of Texas-made Model Y electric sport utility vehicles and has a goal to produce half a million a year at the Texas factory.
Tesla will next year start production at the facility of Cybertruck, Semi electric trucks and Roadster electric sports sedans as well as its humanoid robot Optimus, he said.
The factory, along with Tesla’s new factory in Berlin, is critical to the automaker’s plans to increase annual deliveries by 50% over a multi-year period.
“There will be always be the potential for some hiccups along the way,” Morningstar Analyst Seth Goldstein said, adding that Tesla would eventually overcome any ramp-up difficulties as it did with Model 3 production several years ago.
Tesla said it would also expand production at factories in California and Shanghai.
Tesla posted record deliveries for the first quarter, but a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in China has forced it to temporarily suspend production at the Shanghai factory for several days.
The event comes after Musk this week surprised the market by disclosing that he had bought a 9% stake in Twitter and will join the board of the social media platform.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin, Texas, and Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Anil D’Silva and Richard Pullin)