Elon Musk’s new Tesla ‘Master Plan’ could be more intertwined with both Bitcoin and blockchain technology than previously thought.
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Tesla: Micropayments is King
In the second of his so-called Master Plans for the Tesla project, published Wednesday, Musk details automated car-sharing as one of the goals of future mass expansion.
“You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet … and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation,” he writes.
[…] This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.
He adds that the high price point of leasing or renting a Tesla could “significantly offset” or even “potentially exceeded” by adding a vehicle to the shared fleet.
The potential role for Bitcoin (for financial aspects) and blockchain (for practical aspects) in vehicle automation has been frequently cited. Self-driving cars would in reality make use of a whole ecosystem of tools in order to complete journeys, from safety features to self-parking stations.
All these services would necessarily be pay-as-you-go depending on the route and requirements of passengers. As such, micropayments, such as those afforded by cryptocurrencies, could come into their own.
Equally essentially, the blockchain’s power to enable immutable quasi-ownership of vehicles in the sharing fleet would enable this option to run without a hitch and with a fraction of the manpower.
Vehicles would be smart property, their use administered by smart contracts.
“Thus a car-key embedded in the Ethereum blockchain could be sold or rented out in all manner of rule-based ways, enabling new peer-to-peer schemes for renting or sharing cars,” The Economist wrote back in October last year. “Further out, some talk of using the technology to make by-then-self-driving cars self-owning, to boot.”
Sharing Trumps Ownership?
The term ‘ownership’ is by virtue of this arrangement given less importance. The shared smart property owner has convenience and efficiency as a priority, with physical ownership relegated to a mere option.
Tellingly, Musk’s idea of a company-owned fleet in cities “where demand exceeds supply of customer-owned cars” suggests that Uber-style pooling is increasingly vogue – a marked departure from the setup of previous decades, where ownership was vogue.
“When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere,” he adds. “Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else en route to your destination.”
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