Over the past few months, we’ve heard rumblings about Tesla’s efforts to eventually introduce a Tesla Network, effectively a ridesharing service operated by self-driving Tesla vehicles. During a Tesla event last week, where Tesla introduced hardware capable of supporting fully autonomous driving, the company noted that using a self-driving Tesla for ridesharing “will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year.”
Clearly, Tesla has its eyes on competing with the likes of Uber and Lyft, but the company isn’t exactly looking to get rich off such a plan. On the contrary, it wants to put all of that ridesharing money into the pockets of Tesla drivers themselves.
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When Musk was asked about the Tesla Network and how the rumored initiative fits into the company’s overall vision of the future, Musk articulated that fully autonomous Tesla vehicles will be able to generate ridesharing income for owners while they don’t need it. Consequently, this will help offset the overall purchase price of the car itself.
“This would be something that would be a significant offset on the cost of ownership of a car and then a revenue generator for Tesla as well,” Musk explained. “Obviously, the majority of the economics would go to the owner of the car. Sometimes, it’s been characterized as Tesla versus Uber or Lyft or something like that. It’s not Tesla versus Uber; it’s the people versus Uber.”
It’s an interesting strategy to say the least, but one has to wonder when this plan might actually become a reality. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if Tesla owners are even open to the idea of sending their expensive car out on the road to drive itself and random strangers around town.