The whole value proposition of Tesla was based around the promise of self-driving vehicles. Where are they now? How is the technology progressing?
Tesla is a car manufacturer that was born with the promise of providing the first commercially available self-driving vehicle. Billions of dollars in research were poured into this technology, Tesla’s autopilot feature became more and more advanced as the company became one of the most profitable in history. And yet, full automation was always one year away…
Tesla’s latest electric vehicles provide an automated assistant driver, helping with lane changes, turns and other maneuvers. Nevertheless, the driver must have his hands on the steering wheel at all times, were an “unfortunate accident” to occur.
And, sadly, such accidents did in fact occur. 17 fatal crashes involving Tesla’s technology have taken place since mid-2021. Often, it was the driver’s overconfidence in the technology that led to distraction and eventual crash.
Tesla denies all responsibility, putting the entire blame on the driver’s inattention. According to Tesla, their customers are warned about the dangers of letting the driver’s assistant unattended.
Nevertheless, constant accidents and few new breakthroughs have plunged faith in a self-automated vehicle.
- Tesla stock price
- Tesla’s stock prices dropped over 60% last year, rebounding 20% and stabilising in 2023
Tesla stopped promising it, its CEO Elon Musk stopped talking about it, there are no more bombastic headlines about it. Investors simply do not trust Elon Musk anymore, with talks about replacing him if he fails to comply with investor’s requests.
An open letter by 17 of Tesla’s major shareholders wrote: “Corporate boards can and should intervene if a chief executive appears to be distracted or overly focused on other ventures.”
Meanwhile, Tesla’s competition is gaining pace.
The beginning of the end?
Elon Musk is simultaneously CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter. The overload of work has more than definitely impacted Tesla’s performances. The last new release was the Model Y in 2019, almost four years ago.
Tesla’s Semi-trailer truck, the Cybertruck and the Roadsters were announced with the Model Y and are yet to see the light of day.
Though the Model Y is the most sold electric SUV in the United States, overall sales are plunging. In 2018, Tesla’s market share was 81%, falling to 62% in 2023. Though Musk’s company still retains the vast majority of the market, such a fall cannot be ignored.
All the while competition is rising. Tesla’s new gigafactory in Shanghai was meant to open the company to the Chinese market, but it is not working.
China’s EV companies are simply better suited for local customers, with talks of new self-driving vehicles as well. Huawei announced an upgrade to their self-driving system, while Li Auto promised a self-driving vehicle roll out in 100 Chinese cities, according to CNBC.
Though neither Huawei nor Li Auto’s systems could appeal to Chinese customers, Tesla almost definitely will not.
Tesla needs to consolidate its position in the market. Its product becomes less competitive by the month, being eaten out by increasing competition. Tesla is far from doomed, but needs to reform very quickly before it’s too late.