Tesla ‘Robovan’ Next Big EV Project Says Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been hinting about a van for a while, but this is the first evidence that the automaker is serious about it. This is the “Robovan” and, according to Musk, it is Tesla’s next big project after the Cybertruck, Roadster, and semi-truck. All three EVs appear to be fairly close to beginning production, so there’s always something that comes after. 

What did Musk say about the Tesla Robovan?

Tesla Robovan
Tesla Robovan concept rendering | Tesla

Musk recently tweeted, “Maybe Tesla should make a highly configurable Robovan for people and cargo?” The response was mostly positive, but you figured that already. So did Musk. He’s not shy about hinting at projects already in the pipeline. 

Musk also hinted that the Robovan would be larger than the Model X at the recent Tesla Owners Silicon Valley confab. And in an earnings call, he said that “Tesla is definitely going to make an electric van at some point.”

Truck-based SUVs and vans have traditionally been offshoots of pickup truck architectures. But a van that’s larger than the Cybertruck means it won’t be built off of that platform. And a smaller EV van, like the VW ID Buzz, is limited to cargo or passenger capacity by its smaller size. So a larger footprint makes sense. 

A configurable Tesla Robovan

Cyberobovan
Cyberobovan mashup of Robovan and Cybertruck | MB

The practicality and need for a van that optimizes cargo capacity have opportunities beyond carrying people. Obviously, businesses need vans for various reasons, so the market is potentially larger than for a passengers-only vehicle. And the EV maker has a few of them now, anyway.

Musk has also suggested that an electric van with easy ingress and egress for those with disabilities would be a target. 

Where the Robovan deviates substantially from the Cybertruck is by its design. The Cybertruck was a complete departure from Tesla’s baked-in design language. Actually, it was a complete departure from all vehicle designs. 

The Robovan rendering doesn’t look like a Cybertruck

A rendering of a Tesla Cybertruck.
Tesla Cybertruck rendering | Tesla

But based on the Tesla rendering, the Robovan falls back to picking up the cues we see in all of its current EVs. That means the wheel arches, and the sharp bone line that runs front to back through the body and ties into slim headlights. But it does also have elements of the Cybertruck as well.

The DLO or windows are fairly straight and angular like the Cybertruck’s. And the blunt front fascia also has some of that Cybertruck feel, as there is no pronounced put that the sedans and Model X display. But the lower fascia is a direct crib from the Model 3. 

Should it be built?

The Fremont, California factory is where the Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is made.
Tesla’s Fremont Factory car park | Getty

So would the Robovan actually take on the general styling direction of the Cybertruck? It is more than likely probable, as it has met with so much success based on pre-orders for it. And those typical design cues almost blend into the landscape they’re so prolific. A Cybertruck-type van changes things up in a Tesla way.

So while a roadster is a fun project to create, the real market now is for trucks, SUVs, and delivery vehicles. Musk has got to have fun, but the company is in business to make money.

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