Ever thought about buying a Tesla but got scared away by the price tag?
If so, take note of Elon Musk’s latest idea – a “robotaxi” network that will generate income for Tesla owners and mark Tesla’s first move into ridesharing.
Speaking at Tesla's Autonomy Day in California, Musk vowed that Tesla would have its robotaxi fleet on the roads by next year.
“Any customer will be able to add or remove their car to the Tesla network,” he said.
“Expect this to operate like a combination of the Uber and AirBnB model – so if you own the car, you can add or subtract it to the Tesla network.”
He said that the initiative would smooth out the demand distribution curve for vehicles by allowing cars to operate autonomously for more hours a week.
The total gross profit of a robotaxi would be around $US30,000 ($AU42,780) per year he predicted, which Tesla would then take a “25 to 30%” cut.
He expected the cost of such a robotaxi would be at around $US25,000 ($AU35,640) within three years.
Musk explained that the cars were being designed to have a “million-mile life”, meaning they could be in operation for over ten years.
This means that, hypothetically, a Tesla owner could pay off their vehicle in a matter of years and continue to profit after.
And Musk thinks it will all happen sooner rather than later.
“By the middle of next year, we’ll have over a million Tesla cars on the road with full self-driving hardware,” he said.
“Next year for sure, we will have over a million robotaxis on the road.”
As the quality of driverless vehicles improve, Tesla would begin to “delete parts” like steering wheels and pedals, he added.
The event was used to unveil Tesla’s new self-driving microchip, which Musk touted as “objectively” the best of its type.
Musk admitted that the robotaxis would not be operating “in all jurisdictions” due to regulations, but said he was confident there would be “regulatory approval somewhere literally next year”.
And while the idea and its timeline might sound a bit far-fetched for some, Musk compared it to some of his previous commitments in years past.
“Only criticism – and it’s a fair one – is that sometimes I’m not on time,” he laughed. “But I get it done.”