In a Twitter storm Sunday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that the company's grand strategy to avoid selling cars for small profits (or less), is to boost prices for fully self-driving cars—at least once such systems are more reliable.
In response to a Tweet by Disruption Research (@DisruptResearch), postulating that self-driving cars would be more valuable than those that require a human driver, and asking if potential Tesla customers face a deadline to buy cars before they get much more expensive with fully functional self-driving software, Musk at first simply replied, "Yes."
A couple of hours later, he clarified, "To be clear, consumers will still be able to buy a Tesla, but the clearing price will rise significantly, as a fully autonomous car that can function as a robotaxi is several times more valuable than a non-autonomous car."
Do consumers have limited time left to buy a Tesla car, since prices would have to go up severalfold to balance supply & demand once you solve FSD?— Disruption Research (@DisruptResearch) July 8, 2019
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2019
The Tweet harks back to Musk's pronouncement in April that he plans to turn Tesla into an autonomous robotaxi company and develop a "Tesla network," which will allow owners—and Tesla—to make money renting out their self-driving cars to give rides to others when they're not using them. (Along the same lines, Tesla plans to use sensors from the system to gather driving data it will use to offer its own car insurance.)
We wonder if our readers share Musk's optimism and enthusiasm for self-driving cars. For our Twitter poll this week, we decided to ask readers: "How much extra would you pay for a truly self-driving car?"
Many industry experts disagree on the viability and potential timing of planned self-driving systems. Those disagreements aren't the focus of our question. The question zeroes in on how valuable such a system would be (in today's dollars) once it's developed and operating effectively—no matter how long that takes.
How much extra would you pay for a truly self-driving car?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) July 9, 2019
Our choices start with Musk's assertion that they will be "several times more valuable" than a non-autonomous car. We used "Double the price" (or more), as a proxy for his take.
Other options include "up to $6,000," the current price of the option of future Full Self-Driving Capability on Teslas; "Up to $3,000, the lowest price Tesla ever offered for the future activation of the software, and, for the self-driving doubters among our audience, "Nothing."
Let us know what you think by clicking over to our poll. And remember that our polls are unscientific because of their generally small sample size and because our respondents are self-selected.