Tesla’s Hypothetical Robotaxi Service With Off-Lease Cars is Brilliant

Tesla’s Hypothetical Robotaxi Service With Off-Lease Cars is Brilliant:

Used Teslas could be a very efficient way to operate a robotaxi service as there is heavy depreciation in the first three years.  ent

Compare that with Waymo, Cruise, Zoox and others.  They will be putting new, custom manufactured cars into service. They need to recover the cost of that in their fares – and depreciation is the largest part of the cost of operating a car, especially an electric one.    Tesla only has to recover the cost of the much lower depreciation of used cars.   Other car OEMs (notably the Germans) can also follow Tesla’s strategy if they plan well.  They could also design non-robocars to lease to customers which are designed for easy post-lease retrofit of sensors and computers, since in 3 years you can get better ones.

Of course, those off-lease Teslas will still be driving cars, with steering wheels in the way.   The rear seats of the Tesla Model 3 are passable but not very well reviewed.  Only the front passenger seat will compare in comfort with a seat in a Waymo minivan or Zoox face-to-face seating taxi.   The non-dashboard of the Model 3 means removal of the steering wheel could quickly adapt it for pasengers.   The Model 3 is a low riding sedan designed, like all cars, for a driver, not a vehicle designed from day one for passengers.   Regular cars are full of expensive features that are present only for the driver, including power seats and moving wheels, controls and displays and much more.   None of these need be present in a custom taxi.  (Tesla is special in that the Model 3 has no dashboard,  just its touchscreen, which you do want in your robotaxi.)

In addition, future single person robotaxis should be much cheaper, even when new, than an off-lease Tesla.   But for now, the depreciation eaten by the lessee will give a cost edge to the off-lease Tesla compared to the brand new custom taxi.  That means Tesla can either compete on price, or make more profit.  Which is very clever.


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