21 July 2016Tesla:
When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere. Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute to your destination.
You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost. This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla.
In cities where demand exceeds the supply of customer-owned cars, Tesla will operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are.
This last item is the most interesting thing in Musk’s ‘master plan deux’. Cool idea, but it seems very pie in the sky. Reliable, foolproof, autonomous intelligence is still many years away … and that’s just half of this concept. The other issue is getting people to volunteer their cars to a self-driving fleet — surrendering their vehicle for unknown times to unknown people.
The good thing about taxi cabs and current ride-sharing models is the cars are manned by a human: someone is always there to monitor the actions of the travelling passengers. Leaving my car in the sole possession of someone else is an uncomfortable notion. The cars may drive themselves but they don’t clean themselves or repair themselves.
The last sentence is a much clearer path, where Tesla owns and maintains dedicated vehicles for taxi services. It still depends on the realisation of autonomy but the business model is clear. It’s Uber … without the overhead costs of paying drivers.