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When Tesla announced it would begin outfitting all of its cars with the hardware needed for fully autonomous driving, it also said it would not permit autonomous cars to be used for ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft.
This led to speculation that Tesla is still planning to go forward with its own ride-sharing network, recently hinted at in Tesla CEO Elon Musk's "Master Plan, Part Deux."
This is what the Plan said:
When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere. Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute to your destination.
You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you're at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost. This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.
In cities where demand exceeds the supply of customer-owned cars, Tesla will operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are.
On a conference call with Tesla executives Wednesday, one analyst asked if a so-called Tesla Network would be meant to help owners recoup the cost of a Tesla, or primarily a way for the company to make more money.
"I think it is a bit of both, really," Musk responded. "It would be something that would be a significant offset on the cost of ownership for a car, and a revenue generator for Tesla as well. Obviously, the majority of the economics would go to the owner of the car."
"Sometimes this has been characterized as Tesla versus Uber or Lyft or something like that," he said. "It's not Tesla versus Uber, it's the people versus Uber."