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What is the next step for Tesla in its efforts to build and deliver cars: Robo-taxis

I like to think of this as at Tesla Paradox: the first new American auto company to succeed for decades, with nearly 250,000 vehicles sold last year, is not really good at making automobiles.

The contrast between Tesla's brand image and its production skills is dramatic and inexcusable. Although car manufacturing is far from easy, every major car manufacturer today combines them with a level of efficiency that is downright boring.

We rarely hear about production snafus at major automakers, and even if problems arise, they are usually treated fairly quickly. Tesla, meanwhile, generates almost weekly headlines about how its production processes work and do not work. (In fairness to Tesla, once his vehicles have left the factory, they tend to impress and, if they have any problems, Tesla is still committed to fixing them.)

Read more: It does not matter if Tesla delivered 90,000 cars or 900,000 in the second quarter. More importantly, it's whether Tesla goes into the mass market or stays in luxury.

The Tesla paradox comes down to perfectly satisfied customers, who have an almost evangelical love affair with CEO Elon Musk's company and whose vision runs counter to a general understanding in the automotive industry that Tesla seems unable to design a simpler manufacturing system. or less perfected 20 years ago.

Interestingly, Tesla's paradox may be about to disappear.

Thought process of musk

Joe Skipper / Reuters

Some important things have happened. Musk has, it seems, understood that the global wave of electric vehicles that he hoped to encourage with Tesla was going to be small and move slower than expected in 2010. Electric vehicles could be superior to gasoline powered cars. 39, a technical point of view. point of view, but they still have body panels, windows and doors that must be bolted together, and in this respect, Tesla is no different from Toyota.

In addition, the market was receptive to Teslas – the first affluent users, as customers – but also generally skeptical of electric vehicles.

Tesla has not escaped the financial realities of auto manufacturing either: the auto industry is capital-intensive, and while auto companies can generate a lot of revenue, they struggle to manage their lucrative profit margins.

Beyond all this, action in Silicon Valley has shifted from electric vehicles to commercial vehicles; self-driving cars are the new hot thing. Tesla has been striving to catch up, but companies such as Waymo and Cruise, owned by GM, appear to have a substantial lead.

Read more: Here's what makes the Ford-VW alliance unique in development: "coopetition"

That will not stop Musk, who recently said Tesla was planning to carry a million robo-taxis on the road.

Robo-taxis could be what kills the Tesla paradox. Robo-taxis vehicles must be rather basic, cookie-cutters, without having to worry about traditional consumer benefits, such as luxury materials or complex seating. No one should be very careful if they are not nicely done, as long as they show up when they are hailed and do not crash down en route to their destination.

Sacrifice beauty

Not a robo-taxi.
You're here

Musk is a fan of beauty – doing something beautiful does not cost anything more, he explained once – so it would be a leap forward to concede Tesla's aesthetic advantage. But releasing Tesla from the responsibility of making beautiful robo-taxis would record what's left of the Tesla paradox in low-volume, high-margin vehicles that Tesla could continue to see for his personal property. In this case, the paradox could disappear by itself, Tesla turning to a custom made for these cars.

Musk is also a money fan. He thinks Tesla should be profitable independently. But a decade-long operation of a car company showed him that even from scratch, even if Tesla reached its current level of sales, it did not guarantee that the company could operate coherently in the dark.

He also realized that if he wanted to sell cheaper vehicles, he had to make millions to get the desired return from investors. This means that the incineration history of Tesla's money will probably not be reversed.

Robotization, on the other hand, could generate much better margins and spread more easily in markets outside the United States. The entire automotive industry has come to this conclusion and companies such as Uber and Lyft, with high driving costs, are betting on the future. For Tesla, the potential podiatrists most motorists would expect from robo-taxis fleets could be considerably easier to manufacture with automated factories that Musk has long envisioned.

Read more: One of the biggest scooter companies that invades cities around the world would have lost $ 100 million in three months – and wants to raise even more money

Is Tesla coming out of the car market?

The Tesla factory.
Benjamin Zhang / Business Insider

The result is that, to be honest, it starts to look like Tesla no longer wants to be a car company, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. He wants to get into the taxi business.

It's depressing, but it makes sense financially. And really, everyone in the auto industry could evaluate Tesla's growth prospects as a car manufacturer and make sure it does not live up to its capabilities. But Tesla as a provider of mobility on demand! Now, this fits with Tesla's more enthusiastic booster projections, now that they've finally learned from experience how the automotive industry actually works.

So, what is wrong? Many solutions, given that Tesla's autopilot autopilot autopilot technology, could be defeated by the most expensive laser radar systems that competitors have adopted. Tesla could also discover that being a robo-taxi provider and a robo-taxi maker are two tastes that do not go well together. (Personally, I think this could be a huge benefit, but it could also mark the return of Tesla Paradox, Lite version.)

But the writing seems to be on the wall and Musk has read it. The car manufacturer Tesla could have been just a phase, the one that ends now.

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