Tesla outlines plan for ‘Robotaxi’ ride-sharing service

Tesla CEO Elon Musk presented some new details on the Tesla Network’s Robotaxi ride-hailing service during the company’s Autonomy Day. Musk outlined his how much electric car owners can earn from the service, as well as how long vehicles can last operating as autonomous ride-sharing Robotaxis.

Musk started his presentation by reiterating Tesla’s Master Plan, which includes the deployment of the company’s Robotaxi program sometime in 2020 (pending regulatory approval, of course). Musk joked about Tesla’s delays in the rollout of Full Self-Driving features, though he did note that “we said we’re gonna do the Robotaxi, and we’re gonna do the Robotaxi.”

Tesla owners who wish to use their vehicles for the Tesla Network will be able to manage their electric cars through their smartphone. Musk dropped several points of information that will be key to the Tesla Network’s Robotaxi service as well. Among these is the vehicles’ longevity. The CEO noted that current-generation battery packs are good for about 300,000 to 500,000 miles, though Tesla’s upcoming batteries which will go on production next year will operate for twice as long, up to 1 million miles with minimal maintenance.

These long-lasting batteries will likely go well with Tesla’s 1 million mile drive units. Together, these components can create a fleet of vehicles that is capable of lasting very long with very little maintenance. Musk notes that the Tesla Network will be extended to the Model S, 3, and X, though Model 3 will be used as the company’s first Robotaxis. Asserting its push towards the Tesla Network, Musk stated that the company will be biasing its sales strategy towards smaller battery packs, in order to get a higher volume of cars on the road.

Operating the Tesla Network will make the electric car maker a player in the highly-competitive ride-sharing market, which is dominated by giants such as Uber and Lyft. Thanks to their low operating costs as all-electric cars, Tesla’s electric cars hold an advantage. Tesla estimates that running a Robotaxi will cost around $0.18 or less per mile. This undercuts the $2-$3 cost per mile of ride-sharing.

These low operating costs help owners who participate in the Tesla Network earn some healthy profits. Musk estimates that a single Robotaxi has the potential to make a gross profit of $0.65 per mile assuming that 50% were empty miles, and an annual mileage of 90,00 miles. Using this computation, the CEO notes that the Tesla Robotaxi could earn around $30,000 per year. Couple that will the long life of a Tesla electric car and every single vehicle in the company’s fleet becomes a potential money-maker.

One thing that was quite interesting in Elon Musk’s discussions on the Tesla Network was his comments on components like steering wheels and pedals. As the fleet becomes more autonomous, Musk mentioned that the company will gradually delete the components from vehicles, as per customers’ request. This will actually be quite a shame, considering how well Tesla’s electric cars drive. In the event that a vehicle that is part of its Robotaxi service meets an accident, Musk stated that Tesla will take responsibility. Nevertheless, the CEO stated that Tesla is aiming to ensure that incidents surrounding its electric vehicles are kept at a minimum.

Tesla is starting a very noticeable push for the Tesla Network this year. When the company announced Model 3 leasing, Tesla notes that vehicles that are leased cannot be bought since they will be used for the autonomous ride-sharing service. The electric car maker expects that by next year, it will have around 1 million vehicles on the road that are compatible with the Tesla Network.

Tesla outlines plan for ‘Robotaxi’ ride-sharing service
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