Tesla is hosting a self-driving car event for investors to show off its tech, but Wall Street may need more convincing
- Tesla's 'autonomy day' will kick off at 11 am PT on Monday.
- The company said it will feature Autopilot test rides and keynotes from executives like CEO Elon Musk.
- It's not clear what new tech the company may announce, and Wall Street analysts say there are more important things affecting the company right now.
- Musk's past comments about Tesla's "full self-driving" functions have been criticized by industry experts.
- On Friday, Tesla disclosed that four of its directors will depart when their terms expire.
Tesla is set to host an 'autonomy day' for investors at its Palo Alto headquarters on Monday to show off its latest developments in self-driving technology.Attendees will be treated to test-drives to experience Autopilot, the company said, as well as hearing from investors including CEO Elon Musk, VP of engineering Stuart Bowers, VP of hardware engineering, Pete Bannon, and director of AI, Andrej Karpathy. Advertisement
"Tesla is making significant progress in the development of its autonomous driving software and hardware, including our FSD computer, which is currently in production and which will enable full-self driving via future over-the-air software updates," the company said.
Still, Wall Street remains skeptical of the event and Tesla's autonomous software in the wake of Musk's previous Autopilot comments that many experts have deemed as misleading."We're certain the market is going to get a lot of promises at the investor day tonight, but we'd like to see more proof before assigning a significant value," Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at Evercore, said in a note to clients Monday in which he downgraded the stock from an "in-line" to "underperform" rating.
"The market is assigning very little value to autonomous assets within public OEM's (even when they have direct valuations like GM/Cruise) and the market is not going to give Tesla credit for Musk's promises without very near term KPI's."Read more: Tesla is under pressure after shaking up its board and receiving a demand-fueled downgrade from Wall StreetEven other analysts who remain bullish on Tesla's long-term prospects, like Daniel Ives of Wedbush, say there are more pressing matters concerning investors ahead of the company's earnings report on Wednesday, especially after an underwhelming sales and delivery report for the first quarter.Advertisement
"While we firmly believe in the long term vision for Tesla and expect self driving autonomous technology will be a linchpin of the company's success," Ives wrote, "the Street needs to have a better grasp on the near term demand trajectory in the US for 2Q, delivery logistics for Model 3 in Europe/ China which had been a key culprit for the 1Q debacle, and better understanding of the tenuous balance sheet situation for Musk & Co. going forward for the stock to stabilize."
It's not clear exactly what new products or software functionality Tesla may announce at the event, which starts at 11 am PT. The company's current Autopilot product, hailed by Musk as "full self driving" has garnered criticism from experts who have called his comments misleading and potentially unsafe.Mary Cummings, a professor at Duke who studies the interaction between humans and autonomous driving systems, told Business Insider that no auto or tech company had created a fully or semiautonomous driving system that could operate on the highway without any human attention.Advertisement
"He's wrong," she said of Musk's assertion that Tesla vehicles "already have full self-driving capability on highways, "but his job is to sell cars," Cummings added.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson agreed: "He is overpromising on autonomous vehicles in an almost unethical way," he told CNBC in February.When it comes to drumming up excitement for self-driving, the company has its work cut out for it. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Monday, more than half of American adults think automated vehicles are more dangerous than traditional cars driven by humans.Advertisement
The poll also found that about 63 percent of those who responded said they would not pay more to have a self-driving feature on their vehicle, and 41 percent of the rest said they would not pay more than $2,000. Reuters' findings follow similar results from a Pew Research Center in 2018.
"People are comfortable with things they know," Chris Thomas, co-founder of Fontinalis Partners and Detroit Mobility Lab, told the wire service. "When everybody understands the game-changing attributes of automated vehicles, how they can give you back all that time to read or work or sleep, they will start to ask about the value of that recaptured time."Shares of Tesla were set to open down about 1.5% on Monday morning, following the announcement on Friday that four of Tesla's board members would not seek re-election when their terms expire. Advertisement
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