- Tesla‘s “Autonomy Day” is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. PT on Monday.
- The company said it would feature Autopilot test rides and keynotes from executives including CEO Elon Musk.
- It’s not clear what new tech the company might announce, and Wall Street analysts say there are more important things affecting the company right now.
- Musk’s past comments about Tesla’s self-driving capabilities have been criticised by industry experts.
- On Friday, Tesla disclosed that four of its directors would depart at the end of their terms.
Tesla is set to host an “Autonomy Day” for investors at its Palo Alto, California, headquarters on Monday to show off its latest developments in self-driving technology.
Attendees will be treated to test rides with the company’s Autopilot feature, Tesla said, as well as hearing from executives including CEO Elon Musk; the vice president of engineering, Stuart Bowers; the vice president of hardware engineering, Pete Bannon; and the director of artificial intelligence, Andrej Karpathy.
“Tesla is making significant progress in the development of its autonomous driving software and hardware, including our FSD computer, which is currently in production and which will enable full-self driving via future over-the-air software updates,” the company said.
Still, Wall Street remains sceptical of the event and Tesla’s Autopilot software in the wake of Musk’s previous comments that many experts have deemed misleading.
“We’re certain the market is going to get a lot of promises at the investor day tonight, but we’d like to see more proof before assigning a significant value,” Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at Evercore, said in a note to clients Monday in which he downgraded the stock to an “underperforming” rating from “in-line.”
“The market is assigning very little value to autonomous assets within public OEM’s (even when they have direct valuations like GM/Cruise) and the market is not going to give Tesla credit for Musk’s promises without very near term KPI’s.”
Even other analysts who remain bullish on Tesla’s long-term prospects, like Daniel Ives of Wedbush, say there are more pressing matters concerning investors ahead of the company’s earnings report on Wednesday, especially after an underwhelming sales and delivery report for the first quarter.
“While we firmly believe in the long term vision for Tesla and expect self driving autonomous technology will be a linchpin of the company’s success,” Ives wrote, “the Street needs to have a better grasp on the near term demand trajectory in the US for 2Q, delivery logistics for Model 3 in Europe/ China which had been a key culprit for the 1Q debacle, and better understanding of the tenuous balance sheet situation for Musk & Co. going forward for the stock to stabilise.”
It’s not clear exactly what new products or software functionality Tesla may announce at the event, which is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. PT. The company’s Autopilot product, hailed by Musk as “full self driving,” has garnered criticism from experts who have called his comments misleading and potentially unsafe.
Mary Cummings, a professor at Duke who studies the interaction between humans and autonomous driving systems, told Business Insider that no auto or tech company had created a fully or semiautonomous driving system that could operate on the highway without any human attention.
“He’s wrong,” she said of Musk’s assertion that Tesla vehicles already had full self-driving capability on highways, “but his job is to sell cars,” Cummings added.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson agreed. “He is overpromising on autonomous vehicles in an almost unethical way,” he told CNBC in February.
Tesla hopes to eventually power a network of autonomous taxis that could compete with Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing companies. Musk has openly acknowledged this on several occasions, most recently in a tweet earlier in April. Self-driving technology is also thought to be key to profitability for Uber and Lyft, which are investing heavily in the area for their services.
Consumers, however, need more convincing of the benefits of self-driving cars. A Reuters/Ipsos poll published Monday found that more than half of American adults thought automated vehicles were more dangerous than traditional cars driven by humans.
About 63% of those who responded to the poll said they would not pay more to have a self-driving feature on their vehicle, and 41% of the rest said they would not pay more than $US2,000. Reuters’ findings follow similar results from a Pew Research Center in 2018.
“People are comfortable with things they know,” Chris Thomas, a cofounder of Fontinalis Partners and Detroit Mobility Lab, told the wire service. “When everybody understands the game-changing attributes of automated vehicles, how they can give you back all that time to read or work or sleep, they will start to ask about the value of that recaptured time.”
Shares of Tesla were set to open down about 1.5% on Monday morning, following the announcement on Friday that four of Tesla’s board members would not seek reelection at the end of their terms. On Wednesday, Tesla is scheduled to report its first-quarter earnings. Wall Street analysts polled by Bloomberg expect the company’s balance sheet to sink bank into the red, as Musk in February warned might happen.
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More Tesla news:
- Tesla is shuffling its board of directors amid ongoing negotiations with the Securities and Exchange Commission
- A judge gave Elon Musk and the SEC one more week to come to a new agreement about how to monitor the CEO’s tweets
- Canada is launching a tax credit for electric vehicles. Tesla’s cars are too expensive to qualify.
- A Tesla Model X SUV caught fire after being towed to a shop, despite a company employee saying it wouldn’t
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