Elon Musk Says Tesla Network Offers Owners Economic Opportunity, Not ‘Tesla Versus Uber’

Elon Musk said that his Tesla Network concept will offer Tesla owners an economic opportunity, and won’t be a threat to ride-hailing giant Uber.

During the automaker’s third quarter conference call yesterday, Tesla CEO Musk said that Tesla Network, the company’s concept for an autonomous car-sharing service, offers Tesla owners a way to make income from their vehicles when they’re not using them. It’s more of a cost savings benefit to owners than a profit center for Tesla, he said.

“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; obviously, the majority of the economics would go to the owner of the car,” Musk said. “It’s not Tesla versus Uber. It’s the people versus Uber.”

Last week, Tesla added a disclaimer to its website about the self-driving capabilities of its new Model S vehicles that will come with fully autonomous features once they’re approved by regulators. Through a service to be named Tesla Network, Tesla is preparing to enter the field of car-sharing and ride-hailing services that were first introduced by CEO Elon Musk in his master plan in July.

Providing ride-hailing and ridesharing services with their own cars through Uber and its competitor Lyft has become an appealing income stream for more car owners in the U.S., especially those driving fuel-efficient vehicles like the Toyota Prius. Uber drivers and riders have been following news of Uber investing in a self-driving vehicle test project in Pittsburgh. Volvo has made a deal with Uber to provide XC90 plug-in hybrid SUVs for the test project.

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Tesla owners can find real economic opportunities through joining the Tesla self-driving fleet, Musk said.

“Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5 percent to 10 percent of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not,” wrote Musk in July. “In cities where demand exceeds the supply of customer-owned cars, Tesla will operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are.”

Uber has become the world’s most valuable tech privately held company, with a market valuation at about $69 billion, according to Automotive News. Along with self-driving SUVs, Uber has been investing in a partnership with startup firm Otto and its autonomous trucking technology. Otto has teamed up with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV to make what they said is the first commercial delivery using a self-driving truck. Last week, Otto transported Budweiser beer in Colorado without anyone in the driver’s seat.

Automotive News