Here's what Tesla's larger automotive market play means (TSLA)

Peter Newman
Global Tesla Deliveries 2017

BII


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Tesla CEO Elon Musk shed new light on the company’s future business plans via a series of tweets late last week, revealing that the company is planning to expand into new segments of the automotive market — including pickup trucks and tractor-trailers.

Tesla is tackling the logistics space. Musk announced that Tesla will unveil an electric 18-wheeler this September.

The vehicle was outlined last summer, but it's unknown whether it will include the company's semi-autonomous Autopilot system or have the hardware necessary for full autonomy, which all new Model S and Model X vehicles currently do. However, if it did include autonomous technologies, it would be competing directly with Uber-owned Otto, which is also angling to provide self-driving semi-trucks. Overall, more and more companies are testing self-driving trucking technologies, though no business model or strategy has emerged yet as the favorite for companies in space.

Musk is eyeing a broader range of consumer vehicles as well. Musk said the final design of the Model 3 would be released this July, and that the company would be unveiling a pickup truck for consumers within the next 18 to 24 months. The Model 3, which the automaker has received hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for, will be priced at $35,000. This is significantly lower than the Model S and X which start at $68,000 and $85,500, respectively — while at the same time over twice the price of a $18,000 Honda Civic.

The Model 3 is especially critical to Tesla's potential plans for a future ridesharing network — the vehicle's low price should mean there are more on the road and therefore more available to give people rides. Meanwhile, it's still unknown what the pickup truck will cost and when the automaker might start accepting pre-orders for the vehicle. Additionally, the company is targeting a market that has been dominated by legacy American automakers like GM and Ford for decades, so eating into those companies' market share could be difficult.

These plans align Tesla's lineup with many other automakers. Volvo and Mercedes, for example, manufacture luxury, electric, mass market, and B2B vehicles. This is good for both the Tesla's brand, since it will have more vehicles on the road for consumers to see, and for the company's bottom line, since they are going after more markets. About 17 million commercial and consumer vehicles were sold in the US in 2016, so Tesla is betting it can gain a share of this large market. While the company still needs to successfully execute these plans, which is no small task, it appears to be on the path toward a substantially larger footprint in the automotive industry.

The self-driving car is no longer a futuristic fantasy. Consumers can already buy vehicles that, within a few years time, will get software updates enabling them to hit the road without the need for a driver.

This autonomous revolution will upend the automotive sector and disrupt huge swaths of the economy, while radically improving energy efficiency and changing the way people approach transport around the world.

Automakers and tech companies are racing to develop the technology that will power self-driving cars in the coming years. That tech is advancing, but leaves observers with a bigger question: will consumers trust driverless car tech, and will they want to use autonomous cars?

Peter Newman, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that analyzes the market, and forecasts vehicle shipments and market penetration. It also profiles the players expected to take on a prominent role in the autonomous future, examines the barriers to autonomous car development and adoption, and reviews developments in technology, regulation, and consumer sentiment. Finally, it analyzes the impact the introduction of autonomy will have on various industries and transport trends. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Self-driving cars are coming; there will be fully autonomous cars on the roads in the US in 2018, and adoption will just take off from there.
  • The technology is developing swiftly to allow fully self-driving vehicles, while the regulatory environment is adapting to the anticipated changes that this new technology will bring.
  • We conducted a survey asking our exclusive BI Insiders panel about their thoughts on self-driving cars, the future of the automotive industry, and the impact autonomous vehicles will have on their purchasing habits moving forward. The results provide a picture of consumer sentiment at the precipice of the autonomous era.

In full, the report:

  • Sizes the current and future self-driving car market, forecasting shipments and projecting installed base.
  • Explains the current state of technology, regulation, and consumer perception.
  • Analyzes how the development of autonomous cars will impact employment and the economy.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

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