Elon Musk Hints (Again) at Creating a Possible Rival for Uber

Musk and Norway's Minister of Transport 1 photo
Photo: Samferdselsdepartementet via Flickr
What do you think is the biggest threat to your business? Is it another world financial crisis? A third world conflagration? The aliens? No? What, then?
Well, if you ask the CEOs of the world's major carmakers, they'll say it's Elon Musk building a new company to rival your own. The billionaire has proven so far that he doesn't really do bad business, even though his current crop of companies aren't yet stable enough (or profitable, for that matter), so it can still turn south for him. However, at the moment, he's riding a wave, and it's a big one. So big, in fact, that it might just wipe clean the whole automotive industry and set the stage for a completely new beginning.

But anyone outside the car industry can rest assured for the moment as Musk has his hands full with delivering the first affordable EV sedan while also coming up with a reusable, vertical-landing rocket. However, during a recent visit to Norway (the European country with the highest EV penetration), Musk talked with the Minister of Transport and Communications there, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, and some pretty interesting points came up.

The Minister asked Musk a question we feel was a little dumb, but it did spark an intriguing response: “Can we expect Tesla to revolutionize mass transit when it comes to buses?” Why is this slightly stupid? Because there's nothing wrong with buses. Buses are not the problem. It's not the buses that overcrowd the streets, it's the personal cars. Making buses autonomous isn't really a priority, as that would only mean one man losing his job. There are no other benefits to be had for the operator except the expenses with the driver. For the passengers, the bus is already an autonomous machine.

This was Musk's answer, as reported by Electrek: “We have an idea for something which is not exactly a bus, but would solve the density problem in intercity situations. I think we need to rethink the whole concept of public transport and create something that people are actually gonna like a lot more. I don’t want to talk too much about it.” And just before you say it, no, it's not Hyperloop.

There’s a new type of car or vehicle that I think would be really great (to solve vehicle density in cities problem),” he continued, “and actually take people to their final destination and not just to the bus stop.” If that sounds like some sort of Uber service using autonomous vehicles (probably larger - or with more seats - than a regular car, but still considerably smaller than buses) to you, then you're not alone.

It's not the first time this idea has shown up on the agenda, and it makes perfect sense for Musk to be thinking about something of this nature. He never openly admitted to anything, but he wasn't very keen on denying it either, sparking speculations even further.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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