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Elon Musk has stated that a million Tesla cars will be on the roads in the USA in 2020 as part of the autonomous "robotaxi" project that the manufacturer has launched. For the service to work, owners of the Model 3, the Model S and the Model X are being encouraged to lend their vehicles in return for  payment. By then however, electric automobiles will have had to have increased their range.

 

On Monday 22 April, Elon Musk spoke of Tesla having a presence in the ride-hailing market by next year in the USA. Unlike Uber, Lyft and the other current players in the sector however, the Tesla vehicles would be driverless, according to a report in French website Les Echos. Instead, the US brand would offer autonomous "robotaxis" to pick clients up and take them to their destinations.

 

Certain states set to give green light

 

After a day of discussions with Tesla investors, the CEO was optimistic about certain US states being ready to give their green light to the development of an offer of this kind in 2020. Musk also mentioned a booking platform to coordinate reservations for users, which would run along similar lines to already existing applications.

The outspoken billionaire then went on to explain that for these "automatically-chauffeured cars" to work, Tesla owners would be required to take part in the project.

 

Owners to be paid to lend out their Teslas

 

The vehicles used would primarily be the Model 3, the Model S and the Model X, all of which are owned by individuals. Should they so desire, the owners could sign their Teslas up via a portal and make them available to taxi service clients (in return for payment, of course). The money on offer would be quite significant, with Musk talking of annual revenues of 30,000 US dollars (almost 27,000 euros) for owners who agree to have their cars hired out. This could add up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars across the shelf-life of an electric automobile, which is estimated at around 11 years.

It would also make financial sense for the users of these "robotaxis", with Musk saying that the costs would "probably be around 18 cents" per mile when using vehicles from this fleet, as opposed to the current cost estimates for similar services (again provided by the Tesla CEO9, which are between 2 – 3 US dollars, or €1.80 – €2.70, per mile).

 

More autonomous cars required for the project

 

Musk can therefore confidently assert that once this driverless taxi system has been launched, there will be no fewer than a million autonomous cars out on the streets as part of the project, with the manufacturer only using its own vehicles in zones where there are not enough robotaxis.

However, this vision will only come to fruition if Tesla vehicles can achieve level 4 of driving automation, i.e. that the system used is capable of driving alone but requires a human on board in the event of an emergency, or even level 5, where no human presence is required.

 

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