Tesla Preparing to Launch ‘Uber-Style’ Mobility Services Next Year

Tesla Motors is getting ready to launch “Uber-style” mobility services next year, according to a website update reported by Automotive News.

The news comes via a disclaimer added to Tesla’s website Thursday about the self-driving capabilities of its new Model S vehicles that will come with fully autonomous features. Through a service to be named Tesla Network, the electric automaker 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.

“Please note that using a self-driving Tesla for car-sharing and ride-hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year,” read the website disclaimer.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request by Automotive News for more information on Tesla Network.

The market potential for Tesla Network interested Barclays analyst Brian Johnson enough to write about it in a note to investors on Thursday. Although a Tesla Network could “excite the market” over its potential earnings stream, it was a costly proposition, he wrote.

“While we think ride-sharing/hailing is the future of mass-market mobility, we have some financial concerns with the idea of an OEM-owned fleet,” Johnson wrote.

Like several other automakers, Tesla has been planning on adding mobility services for some time. In his “Master Plan, Part Deux” in July, Musk included a system in which a Tesla owner could add a car to a shared Tesla fleet using a mobile app.

For the Tesla owner, it would offer an opportunity to generate income and lower the cost of ownership. In cities where car ownership is lower, Tesla would operate its own fleet, Musk wrote in his master plan.

Global growth in Uber’s ridership, along with its Pittsburgh self-driving car test project, has brought a great deal of attention to the ride-hailing company. Alliances with Toyota and Volvo were formed this year, while potential partnerships with Google and Tesla appear to be fading away.

Google had invested $258 million in Uber as the technology giant explored mobility services that could fit with its self-driving car project. But in May, Google began testing a carpooling service that could take business away from ride-hailing leaders Uber and Lyft. Google parent-company Alphabet executive David Drummond said in August that he resigned from Uber’s board because of the increasing competition between the companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. Uber had been using Google’s mapping software for its drivers, but recently began developing its own maps.

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As for Tesla, it was reported last year that Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick said that when Tesla’s vehicles become fully autonomous, he would be interested in buying every one of them. The comments had been relayed by a venture capitalist during a Silicon Valley awards dinner, and so far appear to have been more of a conversational topic than a business alliance.

General Motors has been leading the way this year in mobility services through its investment in Uber’s competitor Lyft and through starting up its Maven carsharing division. Later this year, Ford Smart Mobility announced acquisition of Chariot, an app-based, crowd-sourced shuttle company, and collaboration with Motivate to launch Ford GoBike in San Francisco.

Mobility has gone way beyond automakers. Venture capitalists and corporate investors had invested nearly $28 billion into the ride services sector in the past decade as of June, according to a Reuters analysis.

Automotive News