Tesla is all-in on its plans to take over the ride-hailing industry.
On Monday, CEO Elon Musk revealed the company’s plans to compete with companies such as Uber and Lyft by using its strategy for an autonomous ride-hailing fleet.
Robo-taxis are essentially any Tesla vehicle with autonomous-driving functionality. To turn a Tesla into a robo-taxi, a car’s owner simply adds it to the Tesla Network platform via the company’s app.
Musk said that by “next year for sure, we will have over 1 million robo-taxis on the road.”
Riders will be able to summon a robo-taxi via the same Tesla app– similar to how they call for an Uber or Lyft today. The key difference, of course, is that there won’t be a driver in the car.
Musk acknowledged the regulatory limitations and that not all regions will openly approve the company’s futuristic tech right away. Still, Tesla’s chief exec said he’s “very confident” in predicting the launch of the robo-taxi program by next year in certain parts of the U.S.
Musk also predicted rides via robo-taxis will cost significantly less. The average cost for a trip from a ride-hailing service today is about $2 to $3 per mile, he said, whereas Tesla’s program will likely come out to be less than $0.18 a mile.
For Tesla owners, there’s significant money to be made, Musk said. A single robo-taxi could provide about $30,000 worth of profits per year and more than a couple hundred thousand dollars over the lifespan of the vehicle, he said.
“The fundamental message that consumers should be taking today is that it is financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla,” Musk said. “It will be like owning a horse in three years. I mean, fine if you want to own a horse. But you should go into it with that expectation.”
Tesla’s “Autonomous Day” comes just two days before the company’s earnings call, which some on Wall Street called a move to distract investors from a weak first quarter. The robo-taxi announcement comes after Lyft’s public-market debut in March and ahead of Uber’s expected initial public offering sometime in May.
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