Elon Musk made new comments about Tesla’s Full Self-Driving effort, saying he believes that only some “smart retail investors” understand the value that Tesla is going to create.
During Tesla’s conference call for the release of its Q4 2022 financial results yesterday, CEO Elon Musk made some comments about Tesla’s self-driving effort.
The CEO claimed that most people are missing the value that he believes Tesla is going to create with Full Self-Driving:
Something that I think some of these smart retail investors understand but I think a lot of others maybe don’t – is that every time we sell a car, it has the ability, just from uploading software, to have full self-driving enabled, and full self-driving is obviously getting better very rapidly. So that’s actually a tremendous upside potential because all of those cars, with a few exceptions, only a small percentage of cars don’t have Hardware 3, so that means that there are millions of cars where full self-driving can be sold at essentially 100% gross margin. And the value of it grows as the autonomous capability grows. And then, when it becomes fully autonomous, that is a value increase in the fleet. That might be the biggest asset value increase of anything in history. Yes.
Musk has previously stated that when Tesla finally delivers on its self-driving promises, it will unlock tens of thousands in value in each Tesla vehicle through the capacity to turn them into robotaxis.
However, the CEO hasn’t mentioned that service in a long time as Tesla missed several previously announced timelines. Now Musk has been mainly focusing comments on improvements to Tesla FSD Beta. He has stayed away from offering a timeline to deliver on the promised capabilities.
I always like to be careful when I talk negatively about Tesla FSD because I do believe that on its own the product is impressive and the people developing it are doing an incredible job – for the most part.
My main problem with the situation is the discrepancy between the current capacity of the product and what Tesla, and more specifically Musk, has been promising for now seven years. There’s that, and there’s the constant moving of the goalpost.
At first, it was 1 million robotaxis by the end of the year, then it was 1 million people on FSD Beta, and now it’s just 400,000 people on FSD Beta and no word on an actually useful full self-driving product.
What Musk doesn’t seem to understand is that every single investor on earth understands that a company delivering full self-driving capability in millions of vehicles would be a massive assets value increase and, yes, potentially the biggest of any in history, as Musk says.
You don’t need to be that smart to understand that.
The doubts that Musk is hearing, and I assume what is leading him to say something like this, are not due to a lack of understanding of the value of self-driving but about whether Tesla will ever deliver that capability on these millions of cars.
Musk and Tesla have lost a lot of credibility on that front due to the previously mentioned missed deadlines and moved goalposts. There’s certainly room for doubts.
The CEO said yesterday that “full self-driving is obviously getting better very rapidly,” but that’s not my experience after a year of using it in my car, nor is it the experience of most FSD Beta users I know who are not primarily pandering to Musk or trying to justify to themselves having purchased the expensive feature or Tesla stocks.
Musk has been known to block critics on Twitter, and he has surrounded himself with yes-men and sycophants who keep telling him how amazing FSD Beta is.
And again, I think it is amazing that Tesla achieved what it did with FSD Beta if the feature lived in a vacuum without the many promises made. If Tesla had never promised anything and just unveiled this through software updates in its cars, we would all be impressed.
But compared to the promises of a robotaxi service, it is a disappointing product with no clear path to achieving the company’s promises on the current hardware.
If I go into my Tesla right now and activate FSD Beta, I feel more like a driver-ed instructor trying to teach a confused 16-year-old first-time driver than someone being driven around by a robotaxi. It doesn’t make for a better driving experience.
I’d be OK with that if there were a clear path for Tesla to achieve the robotaxi capability, but with Musk believing that the progress has been incredible when it’s hard to see any meaningful improvement from a user basis over the last year, it’s becoming harder to believe him or to believe in the product.
I think that’s the disconnect between Musk believing people don’t understand the value of self-driving through software updates and people actually starting to have serious doubts about Tesla delivering it.
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