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After considering Tesla, Uber reportedly placed an order with Mercedes for 100,000 self-driving cars

Mercedes autonomous e-class

Last year, famous Silicon Valley venture capitalist and early Tesla investor Steve Juvertson recalled a conversation he had with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick:

Travis recently told me that in 2020, if Telsas are autonomous, he’d want to buy all of them. He said all 500,000 of estimated 2020 production, I’d want them all, but he couldn’t get a return call from Elon.

Well apparently Kalanick couldn’t wait any longer and reportedly already placed an order for 100,000 autonomous Mercedes S-Class sedans, according to sources inside Daimler and Uber talking to German magazine Manager Magazin

TL;DR/Takeaway: Uber reportedly placed an order for 100,000 autonomous Mercedes S-Class sedans valued at around €10 billion ($11 billion). The order is not expected to be fulfilled until around 2020./

According to Manager Magazin, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Kalanick recently came to an agreement, though it will be contingent on diverse conditions, not the least of which actually building the technology for autonomous driving.

Mercedes currently doesn’t have a fully self-driving car, but it does offer several assisted driving features under its “Drive Pilot”, which is similar to Tesla’s Autopilot program. Here’s a video about the E-Class autonomous features:

Following Jurvetson’s comment about Uber buying Tesla’s future autonomous cars, there’s been persisting speculation that Tesla will launch a competing ride-sharing system. The speculation mostly originated from the following conversation between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and financial analyst Adam Jonas during a conference call last year:

Adam Jonas – Morgan Stanley

Hey, Elon, Deepak. First question, Steve Jurvetson was recently quoted saying that Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, told him that if, by 2020, Tesla’s cars are autonomous, that he’d want to buy all of them. Is this a real – I mean, forget like the 2020 for a moment, but is this a real business opportunity for Tesla, supplying cars to ridesharing firms, or does Tesla just cut out the middleman and sell on-demand electric mobility services directly from the company on its own platform?

Elon Musk – Tesla’s CEO

That’s an insightful question.

Adam Jonas – Morgan Stanley

You don’t have to answer it.

Elon Musk – Tesla’s CEO

I think – I don’t think I should answer it.

Now that Uber seems to have decided to buy its future cars from Mercedes instead of Tesla, it could represent further indications that Tesla is looking to compete with Uber in the ride-sharing industry, or should I say autonomous ride-sharing industry.

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  1. Mitchell - 7 years ago

    Any pricing on the Mercedes as compared to the Model S 70D?

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      S-Class is priced very close to the Model S depending on options

  2. Fowler - 7 years ago

    So If Uber originally wanted 500,000 autonomous cars by 2020
    Who got the bid for the remaining 400,000 cars?

  3. Trev Page - 7 years ago

    I sure hope they leased them because in 2 years they will have made a colossal mistake once Tesla updates the fleet with full level 4 autonomy.

  4. Ian Hoar - 7 years ago

    This TL;DR/ Takeaway thing you guys are doing now is lame. Especially lame when you are making the TL;DR longer than the preceding text. Respect the intelligence of your readers and just write a good article.

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      What? Longer? it’s a paragraph. Article is way longer.

      • Ian Hoar - 7 years ago

        I count 5 paragraphs, a pull-quote and a video after the TL;DR

      • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

        The TL;DR is just the paragraph where it says TL;DR. I thought it was clear. Since that’s the purpose of a TL;DR…

      • Ian Hoar - 7 years ago

        In my opinion TL;DR a sarcastic redditism that belongs on message boards, not on news sites. It would read a lot better if you used the final paragraph to summarize your points, and dropped the user forum lingo.

      • František Kubiš Jr. - 7 years ago

        what does that TLDR nonsense mean?

    • John - 7 years ago

      This comment is a bit harsh.

      @Fred Lambert
      I too think this should be fixed. I would move the TL;DR paragraph at the top or the bottom of the post and maybe style it differently (e.g grey or in a box).

  5. Pat McSwain - 7 years ago

    This should be really interesting. While both Uber and Mercedes are bigger companies than Lyft and General Motors, it appears that General Motors will have a head start in the technology, and lower cost for the cars in the North American market.

    • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

      GM a head start in autonomous driving? Please explain.

      • Kyle Field - 7 years ago

        I believe he is referring to this:

      • Fred Lambert - 7 years ago

        Buying a startup is hardly a lead. GM’s ‘Super Cruise’ the company’s equivalent of Tesla’s Autopilot, is only set to be release next year. Almost 2 years after Tesla and other automakers. I don’t think they are ahead of anyone.

  6. Christopher Medland - 7 years ago

    Wonderful, replace hard working people with more computers all for the profit of a handful of people. Rich get richer & the poor get homeless. Uber has shown that over the past 15 months (3 rate cuts AND a commission increase) that he could care less about the driver’s pocket as long as his business grows and his pocket doesn’t feel any lighter. He also looks like the kind of guy that I wouldn’t want around little boys & girls.

  7. Nathanael - 7 years ago

    I believe Elon is not about to promise full autonomy by any particular date He’s figured out that it’s harder than people think it is — you need 99.99% safety and you can’t get that good yet. Mercedes will almost certainly default on this deal.

  8. David Giacomini - 7 years ago

    Hmmm… interesting. Imagine the competitive advantage Tesla would have with the massive supercharger network. Plus, that robotic recharging snake thing. I think they are very seriously thinking about a future network of autonomous vehicles.

  9. No way there will be fully autonomous vehicles in production 2020. Google is ahead of all the industry and they still won’t be able to deliver that soon.
    Cars with assisted driving features (like Tesla’s Autopilot) is not what a company like uber needs to get rid of the drivers, but fully autonomous cars that can be summoned without a driver.


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