Tesla boss Elon Musk says that the firm is aiming to take on Uber with its own ride-sharing service – and that the prototype of the forthcoming Model Y SUV is ready to go into production ahead of its launch next year.
Musk made the announcements after the electric car maker reported a quarterly profit for the first time in more than two years. Tesla recorded a profit of $312 million (£242 million) for the third quarter of 2018, helped by deliveries of the Model 3 saloon rising to 56,000. It is the first time Tesla has posted a quarterly profit since 2016 – and just the third time it has done so in its 15-year history.
Musk called the results “historic”, and praised the ingenuity and hard work of the company. He added that the firm had made more than 80,000 vehicles during the three months, of which more than half were Model 3s.
Tesla to launch Uber rival
Musk also told investors that Tesla has plans to expand into mobility services, saying that it “will operate its own ride-hailing services and compete directly with Uber and Lyfy, obviously.”
Musk hinted that Tesla’s business model would be more like accommodation service Airbnb, with customers able to “offer their car, add or subtract to the fleet at will.” It is likely Tesla’s service could rely on autonomous technology when it is available, with reports that it would run a company-owned fleet of self-driving vehicles to pick up passengers whenever there are not enough customer cars available.
Tesla Model Y on track for 2020
Speaking about the Model Y, which Musk had previously said would launch in 2019 before going on sale the following year, he added: “I recently approved the prototype to go into production.”
Even if the Model Y launches in March next year, it will be held back until 2020, in part because Tesla will need to find extra production capacity to build it.
Tesla has already been forced to build a production line in a tent at its California factory to expand Model 3 production. Tesla is currently building a factory in China, which will feature production lines for two models – likely the Model 3 and Model Y – to be sold in that country.
Speaking about the pick-up, Musk promised that it would be "next-level stuff".
The financial report was Musk’s final one as Tesla chairman, before he is required to step down due to a settlement with the US government for his tweets about taking the firm private. He will stay on as chief executive, and declined to comment on the search for his replacement.