Musk’s radical rethink of electric transport, and the value of Tesla and its cars

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Musk puts future focus on shared autonomy, saying it could lift value of Tesla 10-fold, and double the value of cars.

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The Driven

Three figures stood out late last week when Tesla CEO Elon Musk invited us to rethink the future of electric transport, and the worth of Tesla cars and the company itself.

Musk has already turned the trillion-dollar automotive industry on its head, and served notice to the multi-trillion fossil fuel suppliers by making EV driving the ultimate experience on the way to kicking fossil fuels out of the economy.

Now he is inviting us to imagine a world of shared autonomy – where fleets of robo-taxis could soon become the default mode of transport, particularly in big cities. And, he suggests (along with likes of Stanford’s Tony Seba) this could within just a few years.

Autonomy, Musk says, and particularly Tesla’s proprietary self driving chip, is so far ahead of the rest of the crowd that it could make the company worth $US500 billion ($A711 billion) – more than 10 times its current value of $US42 billion.

And it could even make individual Tesla cars worth significantly more than what the customers paid for them, on the basis that they could serve part time or full time in those autonomous fleets.

In fact, Musk suggested in a closed-door investor call late last week, as self-driving capabilities are added via software, the value of any Tesla could rise by a half order of magnitude, or five times, CNBC reported. The net present value of a single Tesla car, Musk said last week could be $US200,000.

Skeptical analysts scoffed at the idea, saying Musk is overpromising again, because he doesn’t deliver on his promised timelines. This has been the default position of naysayers and the self interested short-sellers – as it has been since the day Tesla stock first jumped into the stratosphere, daring to challenge the powerful incumbents, a move some say is still doomed to fail.

But consider this. One of the big take-outs of Tesla’s autonomy day – held (quite deliberately) just two days before the company’s big quarterly loss announcement and a week before its $3 billion fund raising – was just how far Tesla is ahead of its rivals on some aspects of self-driving and full autonomy.

It is impossible for anyone to gauge just who will win this race, but everyone acknowledges now that the race is on – and like every other technology development, it will happen quicker than anyone thinks, not withstanding the considerable legal, regulatory and ethical problems that will arise.

But as for costs and efficiency, analysts at Morgan Stanley noted that the Tesla “chips” installed in its cars create a “neural network” and machine learning from an un-matched data base that in turn will enable it deliver self-driving capabilities at maybe 1/200th of the price of most of its rivals.

What’s that figure again? 1/200th. (One two hundredth).

“We believe Tesla has at least comparable full self driving technology at between 1/100th and 1/200th the cost of many peers demonstrating exquisite, Lidar-encrusted robot taxis,” the Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a report.

To read the full version on RenewEconomy’s electric vehicle dedicated site, The Driven, click here…

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