Wall Street calls Tesla’s autonomous plan ‘half-baked’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted robotaxis by 2020 on Tesla autonomy investor day, and Wall Street was not impressed.

At the company event on Monday, Musk was all too confident about carrying out autonomous robotaxis next year, even predicting that Tesla will be making cars with no steering wheels or pedals by 2021.

Analysts believe the technology is still far from ready and it puts Tesla at a risky position to compete with leaders in ride-hailing and software industries.

“We see a significant amount of technology and execution risk in the shift in strategy from competing in just electrification to Tesla also beating Nvidia in hardware, Google in software, and building a better ride-hailing service than current ride hailing leaders,” Cowen’s analyst Jeffrey Osborne said in a note on Tuesday.

“The Tesla Network robotaxi plans seemed half baked, with the company appearing to either not have answers to or not even considered pretty basic question on the pricing, insurance liability, or regulatory and legal requirements,” Osborne added.

The event came two days before Tesla reports first-quarter earnings.

Shares of Tesla are down more than 1% in premarket trading on Tuesday.

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Musk calls hydrogen fuel cells ‘stupid,’ but tech may threaten Tesla

GM has not released a fuel cell vehicle for the consumer market, but it has a joint venture with Honda to produce fuel cell stacks at a Michigan plant, a deal that started in 2013 and expanded in 2017, when both companies said the Michigan plant where the fuel stacks are being made could produce vehicles starting in 2020.

“In terms of a widespread market launch the battery is currently in a superior position to the fuel cell – not least because of the cost situation and the available infrastructure. Our work will continue to focus on electrification as we monitor hydrogen’s progress. We have no current plans to offer hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.”

His team is working with a material that enables fuel tanks to be smaller, cheaper and more energy-dense than existing hydrogen fuel technologies as well as battery-powered vehicles.

The average price for hydrogen fuel in California is about $16/kg – gasoline is sold by the gallon and hydrogen by the kilogram.

Most fuel cell electric cars carry about 5 kg to 6 kg of hydrogen but go twice the distance of a modern internal combustion engine car with equivalent gas in the tank, which works out to a gasoline-per-gallon equivalent between $5 and $6. Hydrogen fuel cell cars now average between 312 miles and 380 miles in range, according to the EPA. They will cost about $80 to refuel from empty.

Kelley Blue Book estimates annual fuel costs for the Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Hyundai Nexo at $4,495, which is three to four times the cost of gas-powered alternatives.

“We recognize the automakers can’t keep paying for fuel, and we see the line of sight to get there, but it is a volume game and we need to hit a critical mass,” said Shane Stephens, principal and chief development officer at FirstElement Fuel, which runs 19 of the 39 hydrogen refueling stations in California and is developing 12 of the 25 additional stations for the state.

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