SAN FRANCISCO -- Tesla Inc.’s calling used to be bringing affordable electric cars to the masses. Elon Musk is now ripping up the script, vowing to pair self-driving technology with a sharing service that will make it crazy for consumers to buy other cars.
The CEO said that by the middle of next year, 1 million Teslas will be on the road that are fully capable of driving themselves. During an hours-long investor day presentation focused on autonomy, Musk said customers will be able to put their cars onto a shared network of robotaxis, which will be able to get around without a human inside.
Even for Musk, 47, who’s never shied away from outlandish predictions, the timeline is hugely ambitious. Google affiliate Waymo, widely thought to be a leader in the autonomous sector, has shied away from letting its autonomous vehicles roam without safety drivers.
But with Tesla facing mounting concerns about demand for its electric cars, Musk said the company and its customers will reap major monetary benefits once self-driving robotaxis are ready for prime time.
“The fundamental message that consumers should be taking today is that it’s financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla,” Musk said Monday at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. “It will be like owning a horse in three years.”