Tesla plans to launch its own ride-sharing app before achieving full autonomy, and the drivers will be covered under the automaker’s own driver insurance.
For years now, Tesla has taunted a ride-hailing app to be powered by its self-driving system.
Last year, CEO Elon Musk said that he was open to releasing the app, which he has called the “Tesla Network,” ahead of achieving full autonomy.
During Tesla Q4 2019 earnings call last week, the CEO reiterated his plan to release Tesla Network with human drivers instead of a full self-driving system:
I think it will probably make sense to enable car sharing in advance of the kind of robotaxi fleet because the car sharing can be done before Full Self-Driving is approved by regulators. So it’s probably something that we would enable before a sort of robotaxi fleet is enabled.
Last year, Tesla also launched its in-house insurance and claimed rates up to 30% cheaper than the competition.
Two years ago, we published an exclusive report revealing that Tesla was working on a new car insurance program, which it started offering to its customers in Australia and Hong Kong. It has since expanded into several other markets including North America.
Those programs were part of partnerships with existing insurers, but now Tesla is offering its own insurance product built from the ground up.
However, it’s only offered in California at this time.
Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn talked about expanding to other markets during the earnings call last week:
Tesla Insurance is currently available in California. A couple of things that we’re working on on this front: The first is to expand it to other locations, and we are preparing the regulatory processes, preparing our processes to go through the regulatory processes in those locations. We’re also working on the processes to continue to adjust our rates in California, which also have to go through regulatory processes as insurance is quite heavily regulated. And that’s where we’re spending our time focusing on Tesla Insurance right now. There is a significant amount of innovation as we’ve discussed before in this space, exactly getting to the intent of what the question here is, using our technology to reduce rates, and this will be rolled in overtime.
Musk added that he believes Tesla will be able to offer even greater discounts based on the use of Autopilot under their insurance program.
He believes that the information Tesla has about its vehicles in its customer fleet gives the company a big advantage over other insurers:
I think it would make sense for us to close-loop on higher use of Autopilot, it reduces the insurance costs as well as the probability of injury. So I think insurance is going to be quite a major product of Tesla over time. The amount of money that people spend on car insurance is like a remarkably big percentage of the cost of a car, like you can lease a Model 3 right now for $400 a month, but a typical owner in California will be paying sort of between $100 and $200 a month in insurance. So we’re talking about something [that] is maybe a quarter or two half of the cost of the lease of the car is insurance. And a lot of that insurance cost is just because the insurance companies don’t have good information about the drivers, and that there is no good way to provide feedback where it’s a very poor feedback mechanism in terms of the insurance rates versus the actual way that the car is being driven, whereas we can do that in real time. It’s a fundamental information advantage that insurance companies don’t have.
Coming back to the ride-sharing app, Kirkhorn added that Tesla plans to offer insurance for its Tesla Network:
On the insurance part of the question, it is our intent to allow people to put their cars into ride sharing or the FSD network using Tesla Insurance. It’s not currently the case, but by the time that this is available, it’s our intent to get that ready.
The executives didn’t offer a timeline for the expansion of Tesla Insurance outside of California or the release of its Tesla Network ride-sharing app.
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