Elon Musk offers more detail about Tesla’s ridesharing network

On Tesla’s Q1 2018 earnings call today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shed some light on the company’s ambitions to launch an autonomous-vehicle ridesharing network. The short answer is that, from a technical standpoint, Tesla will be ready by the end of next year, Musk said. It’s not yet clear, however, when Tesla would actually launch the network.

The longer answer involves discussion about regulation and the need to have full autonomy in place. That is, Level 4 or Level 5 autonomy that doesn’t require human intervention.

On the call, Musk described a world in which people share their cars, offering them as either a Lyft, an Uber or something like a Lyft/Uber-Airbnb combo “where you can own your car and have 100 percent usage of your car,” Musk said, and specify that it’s available to anyone who wants to use it while you’re not using it.

“This is the obvious thing that’s going to happen,” Musk said.

But in order to get that in place, he said, Tesla needs to solve for autonomy. Tesla also needs a software platform to manage the ridesharing network. As of right now, Musk said the cars Tesla is currently producing are totally capable of full autonomy, give or take a couple of computer updates pertaining to things like processing power and whatnot.

“I think we’re really well-positioned,” Musk said, for having “ultimately millions of shared, autonomous electric vehicles.”

In March, analyst Gene Munster said there’s a more than 50 percent chance Tesla will start operating its ridesharing fleet by 2023. That could add anywhere from $2 billion to $6 billion in revenue for Tesla, according to Munster.

Here are some other takeaways from the call:

  • Tesla will likely start producing the Model Y in early 2020. Musk says it will be a “manufacturing revolution.”
  • Tesla will begin publishing Autopilot safety statistics on a quarterly basis.
  • Tesla doesn’t plan to replace Jim Keller, the VP of Autopilot who left in April for Intel.
  • Musk: “If people are concerned about volatility, they should definitely not buy our stock.”