By on January 2, 2018

Tesla Supercharger

While The Truth About Cars has occasionally been accused for having it in for Tesla, the honest-to-god-truth is that we just possess a severe aversion to unbridled hype. Autonomous cars have made a lot of progress in the last few years, but there’s something about the way manufacturers talk about them that makes us want to say, “Interesting, but we’ll believe it when we see it.”

Automakers love making grandiose claims and Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk may be the prince of hyperbolic statements and lofty promises. He should be commended for delivering on many of them. Still, though there have been many occasions where the other shoe dropped and it was our job to report it. We’re having to do that again, now that Tesla has missed its initial deadline to dazzle the world with an autonomous cross-country road trip

You may have forgotten but, back in October of 2016, Musk said he wanted to showcase his company’s self-driving prowess by having a vehicle drive itself across the entirety of the United States. “It will do this without the need for a single touch, including the charger,” the CEO claimed at the time. The car was even supposed to park itself at the end of the journey. The self-imposed deadline for this event? January 1st, 2018.

Had Tesla achieved that goal, the whole world would be losing its mind right now. No automaker seems even remotely prepared to take on that kind of endeavor — either because the technology isn’t ready or the associated risks are too great. But it’s another example of Musk making a promise he couldn’t back up. In fact, he even said as much this summer during an earnings conference. “It is certainly possible that I will have egg on my face on that front, but if it’s not at the end of the year it will be very close,” Musk said on the matter.

Tesla hasn’t provided an adjusted timeline as of yet. We expect Musk to give the firm another 12 months to do the deed. However, now that we’ve seen the deadline pushed back once already, we’ll be less inclined to believe it. That’s kind of what our hype aversion all boils down to. We know companies have to make big promises to keep investors and the general public interested. But, as we are neither, it doesn’t work out the same for us.

Maybe we’re simply weary because we’ve seen other EV companies promise big and deliver nothing. We certainly don’t revel in seeing Tesla, or any other carmaker, fail when it’s clearly doing its utmost to thrive. But it would be nice if all brands spent a little more time down here on Earth making more measured statements. Tesla has a lot going for it and doesn’t need relentless gimmickry to succeed. The associated expectations are unsustainable and largely unnecessary. We’re ready to be blown away, but manufacturers needs to make sure they’re ready, too.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

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29 Comments on “Time’s Up: Tesla Missed the Deadline for Its Nationwide Autonomous Test Drive...”


  • avatar
    SkiD666

    So even if technically possible, would it even be legally possible? I assume the path would have to go through states that don’t have laws to allow autonomous operation.

    • 0 avatar
      Scramber115

      Driving across one state would have been impressive enough, as well as doable from a regulatory standpoint. That should have been his target. One state is more realistic but still impressive if it succeeded. If his robocars can’t even drive across one state, it does not bode well for the technology, and no way it could drive across the whole country. And an indication of someone who is full of hot air.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      You can still have a person sitting in the drivers seat, at the ready, should something happen and someone need to take over.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo driver

      “we just possess a severe aversion to unbridled hype”

      You’re a special snowflake.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    If we count all the milestones Tesla has missed, that’ll take some time.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I’m sure they’ll be right on it after they get the Model 3 production up-to-steam, and the Semi hauling freight, and the Roadster breaking speed records, and the pickup…

  • avatar
    markf

    Maybe it will be a Model 3, following the semi, hauling a full load of Tesla Pickups to do the autonomous run. Of course by the time that happens we will have our promised flying cars

  • avatar
    brn

    “While The Truth About Cars has occasionally been accused for having it in for Tesla”, you dug up an old prediction and posted a story the DAY AFTER it was due.

    The accusations appear to be well founded.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      Yep.

    • 0 avatar
      Glenn Mercer

      If the CEO of Ford had claimed the same, I am sure TTAC would have jumped on her or him, also. Mr. Musk has made astonishingly amazing achievements, no doubt in my mind about that. But along the way he has made astonishing pledges, too. If he expects to be praised for the former he should expect to be called out on the latter. Can’t have it both ways, especially if one has millions of Twitter followers. Just like it seemed immature, to me at least, that Tesla praised Consumer Reports when they gave Tesla praise, and then accused Consumer Reports of bias when they issued a critique. Make a pledge in front of millions of people to do something no one has ever achieved… yeah, you don’t get to ask to be given a pass by the press when you fall short. If B Obama or D Trump (pick either or others) had promised to have Little Rocket Man in US custody by Day X, and it didn’t happen, you can bet the press would have brought the matter up (to say the least) on Day X+1.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There are several huge mismatches in the auto world today:

    1. Prices are outpacing consumers’ ability to pay (hence creative financing schemes, longer terms, leases).

    2. CAFE requirements and consumer tastes are going in opposite directions.

    3. Autonomous vehicles are being developed for a dubious market. Tesla talks the most about it, but all the kids are doing it now. I don’t want it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Don’t forget about Volvo’s outrageous promise in 2015 that they will absorb all liability for accidents in their future Level 5 AVs, but nobody will die in them anyway.

    http://fortune.com/2015/10/07/volvo-liability-self-driving-cars/

    Yeah, right.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      Volvo, the same company that is making autonomous heavy equipment that will put many people out of a job?

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        No. Not the same company and hasn’t been since Ford bought Volvo Cars from them.

        However, only yesterday Geely, who owns Volvo Cars, bought 8.2% of AB Volvo, the world’s second largest manufacturer of big rigs and heavy equipment.

        So eventually you may be right. By sheer luck.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    I’m sure he meant January 1, 2118. Yeah, that’s it.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Musk = vaporware. Is this a surprise to anyone with a working brain? Ten years in and still the prat stands up on his hind legs to proclaim what a visionary he is, blah, blah, and the assorted band of non-technical followers go – oooh! Yas! Where do I send my money?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      What’s your definition of vaporware?

      Certainly it doesn’t include the 250k cars Tesla has shipped, or the numerous SpaceX launches (and landings). If you’re referring to unfulfilled promises, well, everybody has those.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick Astley

        My adaptation to “vaporware” would be a financially insolvent company heavily advertised by it’s founder which could have been easily financed by himself, yet his moral philosophy of allowing taxpayers to assume all of his start up risk and liability, then lobby heavily to ensure taxpayers are forced to continue to keep skin in the game yet have zero access to potential gains disallows him from doing something himself.

        Photocopy this directive and repeat for each pie in the sky idea.

        Voila! You have a person who is, in essence, human vaporware.

        va·por·ware

        software or hardware that has been advertised but is not yet available to buy, either because it is only a concept or because it is still being written or designed.

        The most important question for you, SCE to AUX, which flavor Kool-Aid was it which caused your addiction?

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk may be the prince of hyperbolic statements and lofty promises.”

    QOTD:

    If Eldon is the “prince” then who is the “king”?

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      – – –
      “Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk may be the prince of hyperbolic statements and lofty promises.”

      QOTD:

      If Eldon is the “prince” then who is the “king”?
      – – –

      John Legere.

      (THAT was easy…)

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    Surely Tesla must have customers that it ships cars to in NY, MD, MA etc… Therefore those vehicles travel with no-one in the drivers seat across the country, and no-one touching them until they are stationary at the destination. I’d call that a win for Musk, and probably a few years earlier than even his projections. Bravo!

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “the honest-to-god-truth is that we just possess a severe aversion to unbridled hype.”

    …unless it comes from Honda.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I’m gonna hop in my Faraday Future and go down to the Tesla dealer and check out one of these autonomous EV’s. We’ll be traveling by sheer thought before these things become a practical reality.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Building autonomous cars ready for human populated roads, is hard. Hyping promises about things one don’t understand, and getting rich selling paper on those’s backs, is not. Noone does hard things in the US anymore. As not-hard ones are much more rewarding in financialized dystopias.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    It’s a great day when you can read about yet another Tesla f*ck up.

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