Musk says Tesla will launch long-promised Robotaxi on August 8

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc plans to launch its long-promised robotaxis later this year as the electric car maker faces weak sales and competition from cheap Chinese electric vehicles.

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Chief Executive Elon Musk announced on his social media site X on Friday that Tesla’s robotaxis will debut on August 8.

Tesla shares rose 5.1% in after-hours trading in New York. As of Friday’s close, Tesla shares had fallen 34% this year. Shortly before Musk released the news about robotaxis, he relinquished his title as the third richest person to Mark.Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms Inc.

Fully self-driving cars, unveiled to investors in 2019, have long been key to Tesla’s high valuation. In recent weeks, Tesla has rolled out the latest version of its driver assistance software, which it markets as FSD, or Full Self-Driving, to consumers.

The company said its next-generation vehicle platform will include a cheaper car and a dedicated robotaxi. Although the company has teased both, it has yet to reveal a prototype for either one. Musk’s tweets on Friday suggested that robotaxis are being prioritized over RoboTaxi’s cheaper cars, although both will be designed on the same platform.

Reuters reported earlier on Friday that the automaker had scrapped plans to produce the cheaper car and was shifting more resources to trying to bring robotaxis to market. Musk responded that “Reuters is lying” but did not provide specific details.

Tesla also produced 46,561 more cars than it delivered in the first quarter, forcing it to slash prices. U.S. consumers have been abandoning more expensive electric vehicles in favor of hybrid models, leading many manufacturers to reconsider the push to electrify their fleets.

Musk’s eye-catching product launches have been a key part of Tesla’s ability to generate enthusiasm among customers and investors without spending money on traditional advertising. But they don’t always work: The company launched the Cybertruck to much fanfare in November 2019, but production was delayed for years, and the vehicle’s growth has been slow.

—With help from Catherine Larkin.

(Share update, additional context for third paragraph.)

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