People who can afford a Tesla may not want to drive others around for a fee the way Uber and Lyft drivers do. And they may be even less interested in letting strangers ride around alone in their self-driving Teslas.
But nevertheless, Tesla is planning to start its own ride service program sometime next year and is making it clear it doesn't want its customers competing with it. The disclosure came as part of a disclaimer about the self-driving function being built into new Model S Teslas.
"Please note that using a self-driving Tesla for car-sharing and ride-hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year," read the disclaimer, according to a Reuters report.
It's interesting that Tesla apparently intends to exert control over how Tesla owners use the software in their cars. This may be the first time a carmaker has tried to restrict how customers may use their cars.
Tesla said yesterday that it would include self-driving technology on all of its new cars, though it's not clear whether owners will have to pay extra to enable it.
Tesla hasn't commented beyond the disclosure, but its CEO, Elon Musk, said in a master plan released in July that he was planning a ride service.
Other automakers are angling to do the same. Could they be thinking of the old business school legend which held that railroads lost out to airlines because they thought they were in the railroad business instead of the transpotation business?
After all, just because you can slap a car together doesn't necessarily make you the best person to run a taxi service. Financial analysts have been lukewarm to Tesla's plans, noting the huge capital investment that would be required. Unlike Uber, General Motors, and other big players, Tesla is not rolling in cash at the moment.