Tesla have released a video of their self-driving technology via HackerNews. Here’s what it looks like:
It looks just like a Tesla. Compare this with Uber’s self-driving offering:
Given the recent rumor that Apple is pulling out of making the car itself, I think it’s worth noting a critical difference in these two cars: only one of them is cool, and it’s the one with integrated hardware and software.
Tesla shocked the industry earlier this year when it confirmed having delivered 25,202 Model S sedans in the U.S. in 2015, which gave the company a 25% market share in the premium sedan market. For the first time, Tesla had surpassed market leaders like BMW and Mercedes. Furthermore, every single other large luxury sedan has seen its sales decrease during the same period.
Now the electric automaker is increasing its lead on the US luxury sedan market to such a point that the Model S is now twice as popular as the Mercedes S-Class or the BMW 7-Series. Tesla is literally selling more all-electric sedans in the US than Mercedes and BMW are selling S-Class and 7-Series combined.
I’m surprised at how few of these cars are sold overall, but it’s amazing that Tesla has already taken a commanding lead.
Here’s a take I’m not completely sold on and may be slightly controversial: the cars Tesla are making are faster horses relative to the combustion automobile. The coming revolution in the industry is not a car powered by a different energy source, but a more efficient way of getting between two points, where efficiency is profit, energy, and convenience, namely self-driving. Tesla makes beautiful cars with a laudable set of innovations, which I hope continues have a place in the market, but I see Uber, Apple, and Google as better placed to deliver an autonomous car platform than Ford, General Motors, and by association, Tesla. The Apple or Google autonomous car will not be something you buy at a dealership, it will be a service that’s available in your city.
Related to this point: the dirty secret of Teslas is that they don’t do much to reduce carbon emissions today in the sense that nearly 70% of electricity used charge these cars are the result of burning stuff (which admittedly is a hell of a lot better than a combustion engine’s 100%, it’s likely much more efficient to burn this fuel elsewhere, deliver the electricity, and perhaps capture the carbon). Of course, Tesla seems to be taking steps to address this with Solar City, and they’re doing great work. In fact, far from being a reason to not buy a Tesla, I much prefer the idea of individual ownership of cars to the collectivization of means of transportation for privacy and autonomy reasons, but I digress.