Tesla Plans to Delay Robotaxi Event to Build More Prototypes

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc. is delaying its planned robotaxi unveiling to October to allow teams working on the project more time to build additional vehicle prototypes, according to people familiar with the decision.

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Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk set the initial Aug. 8 date for the event months ago, and optimism about the spectacle has contributed to an 11-day streak of gains that’s added more than $257 billion to Tesla’s market capitalization. The stock fell more than 8% in intraday trading Thursday after Bloomberg News first reported the delay.

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The postponement has been communicated internally, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information hadn’t been publicly announced.

The idea of creating an autonomous taxi service has been kicking around Tesla for at least eight years, dating back to when Musk authored a second iteration of his “master plan” for the company. The CEO has prioritized the project in recent months over work on an electric vehicle cheaper than Tesla’s most affordable car, the Model 3 sedan.

Musk has talked up Tesla’s work on autonomous-vehicle technology for over a decade and convinced customers to pay thousands of dollars for a product the company has marketed as Full Self-Driving, or FSD. The name is a misnomer — FSD requires constant supervision and doesn’t render Teslas autonomous — but Musk and top engineers have been increasingly bullish about FSD in recent months as the company’s vehicle sales have slowed.

(Updates with additional background starting in the third paragraph.)

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