Tesla has been pioneering a number of innovative technologies in the car industry. The company is now one of the leading electric car makers in the world. But it wants more and this time the company is taking aim at the ride-hailing industry, a sector that has been dominated by tech giant Uber. On Monday, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk confirmed that his company is planning to start offering an autonomous ride-sharing fleet. Tesla already has an advantage in this area because it has cars that can be converted into autonomous taxis. Users just need to connect to the Tesla Network platform through an app and enjoy an autonomous experience in their normal Tesla EV.
Musk noted that Tesla will actually have over 1 million robo-taxis on the road by the start of next year. Riders will easily be able to summon the taxis through a Tesla provided app similar to how they call an Uber. The biggest difference though is that the Tesla robo-taxis won’t have a driver on the wheel. Despite this, Musk made it clear that the company is aware of numerous regulatory limitations that could make it harder to roll out the taxis in all parts of the US. But even then, he remained confident that there are enough regions in the country where this futuristic technology will be gladly accepted.
Tesla is also planning to make its rides significantly cheaper compared to Uber and Lyft. According to Musk, the company will be charging $0.18 per mile for its service. This is way low compared to the fees charged by Uber and Lyft. On average, the two ride-hailing services charge between $2 and $3 per mile. If indeed Tesla is able to break into this market, there will be significant amounts of money to be made. According to estimates, a single robo-taxi could in fact provide nearly $30,000 in revenues each year. When you consider that the plan is to have a million of them on the road, it is clear that the electric carmaker is looking at a much bigger picture.
Many analysts have, however, noted that the timing of this news is a little bit shady. It comes just a few days before the company releases its first-quarter earnings. According to Wall Street estimates, the EV maker is not expected to report strong numbers. Analysts have argued that the announcement on autonomous robo-taxis could be Musk’s attempt to distract investors and other members of the public from this. Additionally, the announcement was also made at a time when Uber and Lyft are working on plans to become public. Uber’s IPO, for example, is expected to float in the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the next month. This has been touted as one of the biggest IPOs ever and many investors will be looking forward to it.
The idea of offering autonomous taxis is not new. In fact, many analysts see it as the future of ride hailing, Uber has also been testing its own autonomous taxis so Tesla will definitely have a huge challenge ahead competing with the company.