(Photo source: )

Tesla CEO Elon Mush said at a recent company-wide meeting that the EV maker aims to release and start production of a new $25,000 electric car in 2023, Electrek said Thursday, citing sources who attended the meeting.

Musk linked the launch of the new model to Tesla achieving a deployable full self-driving system, even asking employees, "Do we want to have this car come with a steering wheel and pedals?" according to the report.

He made it sound likely that the new Tesla vehicle will not even be equipped with a steering wheel, the report noted.

This is the latest rumor about the $25,000 Tesla model, often referred to as the Model 2.

Musk first mentioned that the company was going to produce a $25,000 model at Tesla's Battery Day event in September 2020:

About 3 years from now, we're confident we can make a very compelling $25,000 electric vehicle that's also fully autonomous.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a Tesla China executive confirmed that the company was working on a cheaper Tesla for the mass market, with an expected retail price of 160,000 yuan ($25,000).

The car was expected to be a hatchback that would be locally designed for the Chinese market but would be sold globally, the report said at the time.

However, Tesla later denied it, saying the news was untrue.

Why is Tesla considering a Model 2? Analysts at Sinolink Securities in China mentioned in a report earlier in the year that Musk is positioning Tesla not as a luxury brand, but as a company on a mission to expand the use of clean energy.

"From that perspective, being able to achieve more sales is the primary goal for Tesla," the team said.

In terms of passenger car sales in China, the price range that accounts for the largest share of sales is under RMB 90,000, or 30 percent. The market share of RMB 90,000 - 120,000 is 22 percent, RMB 120,000 - 150,000 is 13 percent and over 300,000 is 10 percent, the team said.

The price band covered by Tesla models is RMB 250,000 and above, corresponding to only 15 percent of the overall market. If Tesla were to launch an RMB 160,000 model, the target market covered by the price would increase to 34 percent, the team said.