Time's Up: Tesla Missed the Deadline for Its Nationwide Autonomous Test Drive

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
times up tesla missed the deadline for its nationwide autonomous test drive

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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  • Stuki Stuki on Jan 03, 2018

    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.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 03, 2018

      Flying into space is hard; SpaceX does that. Building cars seems pretty hard, too - especially as their price goes down.

  • EBFlex EBFlex on Jan 03, 2018

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

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.