Tesla Wants Every Car It Sells To Be A Self-Driving Uber

Senior Contributor
07.22.16

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Tesla has no shortage of ambition, and it’s managed to achieve quite a bit in a short period of time. The company’s taken electric cars from hippie fantasy to luxury vehicle reality, for example. So, for its next set of plans, which the company revealed in a blog post, it wants to do something slightly more ambitious: turn every vehicle it sells into your own personal Uber. But that’s not the only interesting bit the news laid out, although some of it may be higher-risk than the company wants to acknowledge.

Probably the biggest announcement from a consumer perspective is that Tesla is hard at work on a compact SUV and a pick-up truck, which will take the line out of the luxury car and semi-luxury car market and into some pretty competitive space. The Ford F-150 is arguably the most popular personal vehicle in the world, and this puts Tesla squarely up against some of the major car manufacturers. The main question, of course, will be how they can crank out enough to meet demand. The blog post hints the manufacturer will be both roboticizing factories and creating a sort of factory product that can easily be sold and assembled, which is interesting in and of itself.

Tesla’s also getting into the industrial side of hauling stuff, with the company claiming it’ll be ready to debut an electric semi-truck and an electric bus next year. Environmentally speaking, if the electric semi caught on, that would be a major win for the environment. Diesel fuel makes up nearly a quarter of the gas we use, and all semis going electric would cut a lot of pollution out of the air. Tied into this is the fact that Tesla will be chasing more solar energy features.

Still, the most controversial idea is that not only does Tesla want to expand its autonomous vehicle program, it wants to put money in your pocket by doing so. The idea revolves around Tesla’s Autopilot program. Tesla has aggressively insisted that nothing is wrong with Autopilot and that it’s entirely human error, but with three crashes where Autopilot was involved so far, some have asked whether Autopilot should go back to the lab. Tesla doesn’t think so:

….when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability… It would no more make sense to disable Tesla’s Autopilot, as some have called for, than it would to disable autopilot in aircraft, after which our system is named.

The flip side of the coin is that while it may be human error, the car’s not a very good driver if it can’t compensate for the idiot behind the wheel. Still, Tesla will be expanding autonomy and not only that, giving you the option to let random strangers take your car for a spin:

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.

Hopefully cleaning fees are included in that, because we can see this plan going somewhat wrong otherwise. Do you really want your friend who buries his back seat in Mickey D’s wrappers to borrow your car any time he feels like it?

All of this is ambitious and on the radar for the far, far future. Tesla hit its master plan goals in ten years, but this is far more ambitious. We’ll just have to see as things unfold in the electric car market.

(Via Tesla)

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