Tesla Shot Down Uber’s Self-Driving Partnership Idea
Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, shared that he pitched an Uber/Tesla partnership, but Elon Musk wasn’t a fan.
A new book entitled Wild Ride, written by Adam Lashinsky of Fortune magazine, contains the information divulged by Kalanick.
Reportedly, Kalanick reached out to Musk after Apple invested $1 billion in China’s top-tier ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing. Kalanick hoped that an Uber/Tesla partnership might be able to go to bat against the newfound Apple/Didi empire. Kalanick said (as stated in Wild Ride):
“I said, ‘Look man, we should partner.’ Elon spent the rest of the call convincing me that it’s too far out, and it’s not realistic, that I should just stick to what we do best and be focused, or I’m going to f— it all up. That’s when I knew Tesla was competing.”
Not long after the call, Musk proposed an idea for a “Tesla Network,” which would function much like Uber. In part of his Master Plan Part Deux, he also made it clear that drivers would not be able to use their Tesla Autopilot self-driving cars to make money on another network. Musk stated:
“You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost.
This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% 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.”
The Silicon Valley electric automaker later clarified:
“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.”
Uber has had its fair share of problem as of late, so it’s probably best that Musk didn’t decide to join hands with the ride-sharing enterprise.
Tesla has a pretty full plate, and adopting any potential problems or negative press will just add to the equation (not as if Tesla isn’t constantly dealing with its own issues). Kalanick, like Musk, was shunned for interacting with President Trump, although he suffered much more from the issue. Alphabet has filed a lawsuit against Uber for stealing trade secrets, and Uber was temporarily banned from testing autonomous cars on California roads.
The list goes on and on, and at this point, Uber isn’t in a position for an initial public offering. Kalanick admits in the book that he does have unconventional plans to go public with Uber, but another person mentioned in the book says that it is unlikely at this point.