Tesla’s autonomous vehicle technology is so advanced that one analyst thinks the company will parlay that advantage into a dominant position in shared, on-demand fleets, which will eventually an important revenue source for automakers in the future.
The California-based EV maker’s lead in this technology is so substantial, Morgan Stanley Analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a report, that it’s likely to spawn a separate division: Tesla Mobility, which is Jonas‘ name for it. He believes that will be the maker’s next move after the introduction of the Model 3 in 2017.
Jonas also believes that the company will make an announcement about its plans in this arena in the next 12 to 18 months, adding that the concept fits in with Tesla’s message about sustainability.
“Tesla has been one of the most outspoken auto companies on the uses of autonomous technology to improve inefficiencies and safety of today’s road transport,” he wrote. “One hundred percent of Tesla’s vehicles are electric, connected and able to learn through over-the-air firmware updates at any time. No other automaker can claim this today.”
Obviously the idea of ride sharing on demand isn’t new. Fleets are all types are in use globally. However, an autonomous vehicle that could show up where you are on demand could be very appealing to a younger generation of drivers who aren’t necessarily as interested in vehicle ownership as the generations before it.
Tesla officials made no comment on the report, but it’s stock rose nearly 10% after it was released. Jonas bumped his target price for Tesla up to $465 per share: in the next 12 months. It’s currently trading in the $250-plus range. He said some bullish forecasts suggest the price could jump to $611 a share.
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Jonas believes that initially the app-based services would rely on human drivers, much like Uber or Lyft, but as autonomous technology grows and improves, Tesla could easily roll over into a driverless fleet.
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He thinks that Tesla could have a rental fleet of 600,000 autonomous Model 3s running around the country. That would make Tesla’s fleet comparable to other well-known rental fleets, like Hertz.
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Jonas said that eventually all automakers will receive 100% of their revenue from shared cars or robot-driven vehicles, adding Tesla is well positioned to ramp up the use of shared vehicles with its technology. Tesla is currently beta testing its autopilot technology right now and expects to introduce it later this year. Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and CEO, has said that limitations on autonomous technology have more to do with the current roadways and infrastructure than the ability of the vehicles to perform the task.