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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
time s 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.

  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.
  • Kwik_Shift A manual bug eye WRX wagon (2001-03) would interest me more.
  • El scotto Ferrari develops a way to put a virtual car in real time traffic? Will it be multiple virtual players in a possible infinite number of real drivers in real time situations?This will be one of the greatest things ever or a niche video game.
  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.