Elon Musk backs out of the fully self-driving Tesla promise as he tips Apple-beating market cap
Tesla won't release a fully self-driving car by the end of the year, admitted Elon Musk at an earnings call, at least not one that can receive regulatory approval. Contrary to the promises he tweeted or mentioned several times in the past quarter, Tesla's expensive Full Self-Driving Beta mode will remain just that in 2022, despite that there will be at least one more big update with which "the car will be able to take you from your home to your work, your friend's house, the grocery store without you touching the wheel," quipped Musk.
That will still require driver oversight, though, so Tesla's FSD mode will be as far from fully self-driving as it has always been without regulatory approval as a Level 5 or even Level 4 autonomous driving software, as that typically requires geofencing. "It's a separate matter as to will it have regulatory approval. It won't have regulatory approval at that time," added Musk, basically admitting that his fully self-driving promise won't happen, at least not in the timeframe he mentioned.
Before these promises are chalked off as just another in a long line of hyperbolic statements by Elon Musk that rarely ever come to fruition, it'd be reasonable to remember his exact wording. "The two technologies I am focused on, trying to ideally get done before the end of the year, are getting our Starship into orbit... and then having Tesla cars to be able to do self-driving," he said at the time.
Evidently, the technology will be there by the time promised, according to Musk, especially with the last big FSD update for 2022, but actually certifying it as such is a whole separate issue that is out of Tesla's control. Elon still laid out some crumbs of the same promise for FSD users to look forward to for next year, though:
I think we'll be pretty close to having enough [reliability] 9s that you can have no one in the car by the end of this year and certainly and without question whatsoever in my mind, next year.
At the earning's call, Tesla reported big revenue increase driven by car price increases and exchange rate shifts, yet a smaller profit as a percentage of that record revenue, due to supply chain snags and new factory buildouts. Elon Musk sought to calm investors about that ratio by repeating his claim that Tesla will, at some point, be larger than Apple:
A while ago, I said on an earnings call that I thought it was possible for Tesla to be worth more than Apple, which was worth about $700 billion at the time... Now I’m of the opinion that we can far exceed Apple’s current market cap. I see a path for Tesla to be worth more than Apple and Saudi Aramco combined.