Perhaps the most important part of the grand vision of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is to create a massive fleet of self-driving vehicles that can transport people from place to place as efficiently as possible.
Dubbed the Tesla Network, the idea is still in the planning stages right now. But once fully autonomous Teslas hit the roads — perhaps as soon as late 2018 — the door will be wide open to get the network off the ground. Clean Technica points out just how huge it could be:
When and if the Tesla Network is ready for business, how cool will it be? A recent article in Teslarati notes that it has the potential to radically change the way people get around. In a recent TED Talk, Elon Musk said that it will eventually be cheaper than public transport. That’s a bold claim, and it seems likely that it could only be realized once large numbers of people are using the network, bringing economies of scale into play.
For Tesla owners, participating in the Network could be a big opportunity. The average car sits idle in a garage or a parking lot 95% of the time — being able to monetize that dead time could add up to some substantial income. But will owners be interested in letting strangers ride around in their shiny new Teslas? Matthew DeBord of Business Insider is skeptical: “Musk and his team are clearly thinking economically when they think about the Tesla Network. But they might not be thinking about how people really own cars — especially Teslas, which have around them a Ferrari-like halo of desirability.”
While most consumers don’t think of their cars as money-making taxis just yet, that could change soon enough. Money, after all, is the ultimate motivator, and the world’s largest implement of progression. If a $35,000 car could pay for itself within a few years by renting itself out, who wouldn’t opt into a Tesla ridesharing service?
Tesla Inc shares closed at $355.40 on Friday, down $0.50 (-0.14%). Year-to-date, TSLA has gained 66.32%, versus a 11.90% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.