Tesla’s Robotaxi network could be more profitable than expected: ARK Invest

An autonomous Tesla Model 3 in action. (Credit: Tesla)

ARK Invest’s recent research into autonomous ride-hailing platforms has led the investment management firm to adjust some of its predictions about the burgeoning rideshare industry.

In its Big Ideas 2021 report, ARK Invest predicted that consumers would be willing to pay 25 cents per mile for autonomous taxi rides. The investment management firm believes that rideshare services would eventually become cheaper for consumers compared to the costs of owning and operating a personal vehicle. As a cheaper alternative, ARK forecasted that autonomous ride-hailing platforms would experience widespread adoption in the future.

Recently, ARK found that consumers may be willing to pay more than 25 cents per mile for rideshare services based on a report from the US Department of Transportation and a study sponsored by Lyft.

“ARK estimates that consumers value an hour of travel time at roughly $18 per hour or approximately 72 cents per taxi mile,” noted ARK Invest analyst Tasha Keeney.

Keeney explained that ARK’s findings revealed consumers are willing to pay much higher prices based on the value they place on their time.

“In other words, the addressable market for a service priced at 72+ cents per mile would be double our original estimates. Based on the approximate 2 trillion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) annually in urban US areas, the total available market would approach $1.6 trillion,” she wrote.

Before discovering that consumers were willing to pay more for rideshare services, ARK Invest predicted that ride-hailing platforms could generate $6-7 trillion in revenue by 2030, with take rates reaching up to 60%. The asset management company believes widespread adoption of ride-hailing technologies hinges on a rideshare company’s ability to scale operations.

(Credit: ARK Invest)

Earlier this year, ARK noted that there would be a 20% chance of widespread rideshare service adoption if Tesla successfully launched its Robotaxi fleet by 2022 compared to 1% if Waymo or GM were to lead the charge. The plausibility of Tesla launching its Robotaxi service by next year increases as the EV automaker improves its camera-based driver-assist software.

Recently, the automaker announced the release of its pure vision approach to Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, which effectively eliminates sensors in some of its vehicles. Tesla’s camera-only model marks a definitive step towards the launch of a Robotaxi fleet that is truly autonomous. However, Tesla has considered launching Robotaxi services with human drivers behind the wheel, which ARK believes could be just as lucrative.

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Tesla’s Robotaxi network could be more profitable than expected: ARK Invest
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