Maggie McCann, Contributing Writer |
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, Tesla co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk made a shocking announcement in an online podcast with ARK invest, an investment website. Musk said, “I think [Tesla cars] will be ‘feature compatible’ on full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, and take you to your destination without intervention this year,” as well as claiming by 2020 that napping behind the wheel and waking up at your destination will be a reality.
Because of his history of broken promises, it proves difficult for investors and Tesla customers to take Musk’s word. The Tesla CEO said in January 2017 that the same full self-driving capability would be available in three to six months, which of course did not happen. It was also a hard hit for Tesla customers when the highly anticipated Tesla Model-3’s prices nearly doubled after marketing as the cheaper electric car to make electric vehicles mainstream.
Musk has faced harsh opposition after his statement on Tuesday’s ARK invest podcast. AutoNation’s CEO Mike Jackson says, “I think he is overpromising on autonomous vehicles in an almost unethical way.” Jackson cites instances of Musk’s promises putting drivers at risk. In a February 2019 earnings report, the Tesla founder claimed that the current Tesla models “already have full self-driving capability on highways … so from highway on-ramp to highway exit, including passing cars and going from one highway interchange to another, full self-driving capability is there.” Drivers of Tesla automobiles were put under the impression that they could go hands-free while on highways and even did so. However, a Tesla representative said Musk was referring to capabilities that could not be found in Tesla cars.
Before Musk’s comments on Tuesday, Tesla had been facing rough realities as Consumer Reports says they can “no longer recommend the newest Tesla—the Model 3 electric sedan—because members say they’ve identified a number of problems with their cars, including issues with its body hardware, as well as paint and trim.” Many believe Musk’s hard to believe promise may stem from these negative reports from a highly recognized consumer survey.
After Musk’s claim, Tesla’s stock had dropped steadily until nearly a week after the ARK invest podcast. Many investors are becoming tired with the billionaire’s string of broken promises. However, in a report by Consumer Reports on the ten most satisfying cars, consumers ranked the Tesla Model-S as the topmost satisfying. By the end of 2019, if Musk doesn’t keep his promise, it is unclear if it will be the final blow for the wavering electric car manufacturer, but only time will tell.