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Elon Musk Claims the ‘Tesla Network’ Will Be the Airbnb of Ride-Sharing

The automaker aims to compete with Uber, Lyft, Turo, and Maven using its upcoming ride-sharing platform.

During Tesla’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday evening, CEO Elon Musk spoke briefly about something called the “Tesla Network,” claiming that when it goes live it will place Tesla in far greater advantage than both Uber and Lyft due to its goals for autonomy. According to Musk, this will enable the automaker to effectively be the “Airbnb” of ride-sharing.

Musk’s vision for the Tesla Network is for customers to be able to choose to either perform ride-hailing in their vehicle, like with Uber or Lyft, or simply rent out their cars to customers, similar to the crowdsource rental agency Turo and Maven. Musk doesn’t mention Turo, but does compare the car rental in a similar capacity to Airbnb.

Opting in or out of the service will be easy for the customer, notes Musk. Customer vehicles or company-controlled fleets can be added or subtracted to the Tesla Network at will, meaning that it will likely be a setting on both the owner’s app and the in-car infotainment screen. Telsa will charge a service fee while customers are generating revenue using the program; Musk spitballs this number to be around 30 percent to broker the rides on the Tesla Network service. 

The service will also enable customers to fully rent out their vehicles as well. Again, a similar opt-in feature is expected and will join a fleet of vehicles owned by Tesla that will operate in the service when there aren’t enough customer cars to get the job done. Other automakers like Porsche have had similar ideas and partnered with existing services to pilot programs.

Musk believes that autonomy will play a big part in both Tesla’s long-term ride-sharing advantage, as well as the company’s valuation. He notes that the automaker will have millions of cars in the field capable of “full autonomy” thanks to Tesla’s newest proprietary autopilot hardware upgrade. Currently, full autonomy does not yet exist for any automaker and will ultimately be subject to regulatory requirements which have not been written.

Throughout the call, several mentions were made regarding Tesla’s services revenue consistently posting a loss. Unlike traditional internal combustion vehicles, there are less serviceable wear items on electric cars, leading Tesla down creative alleyways to supplement the catch-22 of building electric cars with increased longevity. While Musk noted that it is important to wait out warranties for this number to begin evening out, other services yet-to-come will likely help supplement this cost. The Tesla Network is likely part of Tesla’s long-haul plan which relies on the automaker to embrace its software-engineering side and build passive revenue generators.