Mercedes autonomous e-class

Last year, famous Silicon Valley venture capitalist and early Tesla investor Steve Juvertson recalled a conversation he had with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick:

Travis recently told me that in 2020, if Telsas are autonomous, he’d want to buy all of them. He said all 500,000 of estimated 2020 production, I’d want them all, but he couldn’t get a return call from Elon.

Well apparently Kalanick couldn’t wait any longer and reportedly already placed an order for 100,000 autonomous Mercedes S-Class sedans, according to sources inside Daimler and Uber talking to German magazine Manager Magazin

TL;DR/Takeaway: Uber reportedly placed an order for 100,000 autonomous Mercedes S-Class sedans valued at around €10 billion ($11 billion). The order is not expected to be fulfilled until around 2020./

According to Manager Magazin, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Kalanick recently came to an agreement, though it will be contingent on diverse conditions, not the least of which actually building the technology for autonomous driving.

Mercedes currently doesn’t have a fully self-driving car, but it does offer several assisted driving features under its “Drive Pilot”, which is similar to Tesla’s Autopilot program. Here’s a video about the E-Class autonomous features:

Following Jurvetson’s comment about Uber buying Tesla’s future autonomous cars, there’s been persisting speculation that Tesla will launch a competing ride-sharing system. The speculation mostly originated from the following conversation between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and financial analyst Adam Jonas during a conference call last year:

Adam Jonas – Morgan Stanley

Hey, Elon, Deepak. First question, Steve Jurvetson was recently quoted saying that Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, told him that if, by 2020, Tesla’s cars are autonomous, that he’d want to buy all of them. Is this a real – I mean, forget like the 2020 for a moment, but is this a real business opportunity for Tesla, supplying cars to ridesharing firms, or does Tesla just cut out the middleman and sell on-demand electric mobility services directly from the company on its own platform?

Elon Musk – Tesla’s CEO

That’s an insightful question.

Adam Jonas – Morgan Stanley

You don’t have to answer it.

Elon Musk – Tesla’s CEO

I think – I don’t think I should answer it.

Now that Uber seems to have decided to buy its future cars from Mercedes instead of Tesla, it could represent further indications that Tesla is looking to compete with Uber in the ride-sharing industry, or should I say autonomous ride-sharing industry.

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