Elon Musk throws killer opening Texas party, reveals updated prototypes, plans for self-driving ‘robotaxi’

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(Video Credit: CNET)

Looking more like a rock star than a billionaire, Elon Musk was welcomed by a roaring crowd at his new $1.1 billion Gigafactory in Austin, Texas where he held a “Cyber Rodeo” on Thursday in a building the size of three Pentagons, boasting that it could hold “194 billion hamsters.”

“According to our calculations, you can fit 194 billion hamsters into this building,” Musk told a crowd of thousands. The facility took two years to build.

“If you put building on its side, it’s taller than the Burj Khalifa — that’s to scale,” Musk commented.

“It wasn’t easy building this incredible asset, this humongous building, and getting all this equipment here,” he said. “We went through deep freeze, rain, quicksand. Incredibly fast build. It was very difficult but it’s done.”

Wearing a cowboy hat, and sunglasses, and dressed in casual attire, the Tesla CEO announced that his long-awaited Cybertruck will be shipped in 2023. The prototype does not have any handles which the tech guru considers a feature.

“I think this will be our magnum opus, and you can see some of the changes we’ve made already, there are no handles. Who needs handles?” he asked 4,000 adoring fans.

“The car can tell that you’re there and it can just tell that it needs to open. So We’re going to have an incredible Cybertruck product for you next year, it’s going to blow your mind,” Musk proclaimed.

He also announced that Tesla will manufacture a self-driving “robotaxi” which will definitely have a “futuristic” look to it. The South African entrepreneur did not show any pictures of the proposed vehicle or indicate when it would debut.

“Massive scale. Full self-driving. There’s going to be a dedicated robotaxi,” the mogul declared.

The “robotaxi” concept by Musk has been in the works since at least 2019. Originally, he had planned to make them available in some U.S. markets in 2020. Musk asserted in January that he would be “shocked” if Tesla did not have a fully self-driving vehicle that is safer than human drivers sometime this year.

The Cybertruck’s price tag will start at $39,900 for the base model and go up from there. Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen drove a Cybertruck onto the stage in Austin to promote it to the audience.

Musk and Von Holzhausen kidded about testing the car’s armored glass again. The first time that was tried in 2019 it ended badly with Holzhausen throwing a metal ball at one of the windows, causing it to shatter.

The newly anointed Twitter board member also announced that Tesla will begin production of its humanoid robot, Optimus, in 2023.

Tesla’s Texas Gigafactory is the company’s sixth factory and its global headquarters. Other locations include Shanghai, Berlin, New York, Nevada, and Fremont, California.

Musk said Tesla decided to build a factory in Austin because the company ran out of room in California. “We need a place where we can be really big and there’s no place like Texas,” he stated, according to Business Insider.

Factories in Texas and Berlin, Germany will make vehicles and battery cells. According to Musk, the Austin Gigafactory will primarily produce Tesla’s Model Y SUV, which he estimates will ship 500,000 units in 2023.

He boasted that Tesla has sold a million cars over the last year but is claiming that bigger things are on the horizon for the company. Musk says Tesla will grow “on a truly massive scale” that “no company has ever achieved in the history of humanity.”

His speech was given massive applause. He capped off the event with fireworks. Approximately 15,000 people traveled from all over the world to attend the invite-only event.


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