Skip to main content

Autonomous Taxis - Tesla Will Lead the Way

Even though many reports list Tesla's FSD as far behind in autonomous driving, reality is different. Tesla will lead the way in autonomous driving.


Autonomous Modes of Transport

There are reports you can find that show Tesla and its FSD software for autonomous taxis as a distant 7th or 8th place behind things like Ford's Blue Cruise or GM's Super Cruise or even Waymo self-driving cars. However, whenever you see a report on who is in the lead, you must look at the incentive for writing that report - even for the one I am about to share, from ARK Invest.

If you have a stake in any companies FSD or full self-driving software, you are most likely going to put a positive spin on what they are doing because you have an incentive for them to do well. In the case with Tesla, I think they are succeeding regardless of incentives, and that is the case I will present today.

ARK Invest released their big ideas 2023, and they think that autonomous taxis could eliminate about 60% of short-haul airline flights and that autonomous taxis could generate $4 trillion in revenue in 2027. Let's go over their report.

Lower Costs Across the Supply Chain

ARK Invest shows that a truckload delivery cost (per ton-mile) would drop from $.07 for a human driven diesel truck to $.03 with an autonomous Semi truck like the Tesla Semi - which was recently shown to be used by PepsiCo. That is an over 2x improvement. Autonomous electric trucks benefit from higher use, lower maintenance, and lower fuel costs.

There is a lower batch delivery cost (per trip) with human driven delivery at $2.40 and a rolling integrated traffic robot at $0.40. That's about a 6.5x improvement. Rolling robots should enable inexpensive and convenient delivery, reshaping consumer shopping habits.

For local small item delivery cost (per trip), you get $5.40 for an app delivery and $.25 for a drone, showing an astounding 22x improvement. Autonomous drones are likely to deliver substantial share of e-commerce parcels and online food sales.

Real-Time Autonomous Delivery and Autonomous Trucks

Real-time autonomous delivery could generate $1 to $2 trillion in addressable market by 2030.

Drone and robot delivery could price profitably at $0.20 to $0.40 per trip, and current fee structures for mail and real-time delivery could support price points as high as $10 per delivery in the short term.

There is a $1.5 trillion additional demand in low-cost markets for autonomous delivery in the $0.20 to $0.40 price range.

Autonomous trucks should become more cost-effective than rail by 2030. This is a big deal as rail is considered the gold standard in ground transport. The following are cost per ton-mile per transport mode:

* Air: $1.23
* Human driven diesel truck: $0.07
* Rail: $0.04
* Autonomous EV truck: $0.03
* Barge: $0.03

These numbers are rounded by ARK Invest.

You may also be interested in:

How Tesla Will Lead the Way

Tesla will lead the way on this and it all comes down to their ability to produce FSD software that is much better than the average human driver and can handle win, snow, sunshine, and hail. They are getting closer, but not there yet.

Tesla may have some tricks up their sleeves. On Investor Day, March 1, 2023, they might unveil that their generation 3 platform is a slimmed down version of its vehicles, weight much less than a typical vehicle, have no steering wheel or pedals, and just a screen. This vehicle could go 500 miles on a charge and cost as little as $25,000 to $30,000. People would be buying these in droves, but I think Tesla will keep them.

My Tesla Model 3 RWD can drive itself on autopilot and handle freeway turns, rain, snow, and a variety of conditions and I don't pay for that software. Other autonomous software can't do turns, or if they can, they rely on HD maps and geo-fenced data.

The cost per mile for cars that drives themselves becomes very little with an EV. Tesla will have a variety of vehicles that will be able to do this, and they haven't even announced future products like the Tesla robo van or a bus or any kind of drone product.

Right now, Tesla has the Tesla semi - with a staggering over 80% cost reduction in fuel along with every single EV it produces having the software and hardware to be autonomous.

Tesla could apply its software to a flying drone, and it will be interesting to see if Tesla gets in that business. It all comes down to how cost-effective and efficient a flying drone with batteries is.

I look forward to when Tesla adds in products that will address many of these autonomous markets. Right now they have EVs and the Tesla Semi addressing two of them already. What other products could they make to address the others? Planes, drones, buses, and vans.

Do you think Tesla will lead the way in autonomous transport?

In Related News: Tesla not opening a Giga factory in Mexico yet

Leave your comments below, share the article with friends and tweet it out to your followers.

Jeremy Johnson is a Tesla investor and supporter. He first invested in Tesla in 2017 after years of following Elon Musk and admiring his work ethic and intelligence. Since then, he's become a Tesla bull, covering anything about Tesla he can find, while also dabbling in other electric vehicle companies. Jeremy covers Tesla developments at Torque News. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn to stay in touch and follow his Tesla news coverage on Torque News.

Image Credit,, Screenshot