Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC he agrees with Tesla CEO Elon Musk that the future of mobility is electric, but he disagrees with Musk that truly autonomous “robotaxis” will debut next year.
In an interview that aired on Uber’s IPO day on Friday, “Squawk Box” co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin asked him what the future of mobility looks like.
“First of all, it’s got to be electric,” the CEO said. “We think that’s a no-brainer. It’s good for the environment. It’s where the world is going. And we’re playing our part, for example, in London to move it electric.” He added that Uber, of course, thinks the future of mobility also has to be “shared.”
The ride-hailing giant will make its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, pricing its IPO on Thursday night at $45 per share.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently told investors he is ready to take Tesla into a new, driverless era. The company should have a million vehicles capable of functioning as driverless robotaxis on the road by the end of 2020, he said. He also told investors that self-driving technology and services will help his electric car company grow to a $500 billion market cap.
When the Uber CEO first heard Musk’s predictions about this, Khosrowshahi said, “I thought: If he can do it, more power to him. Our approach is a more conservative approach as far as sensor technology and mapping technology. The software’s going to get there. So I don’t think that his vision is by any means wrong. I just think we disagree on timing.”
Musk has also promised investors and fans that Tesla’s self-driving cars will be able to work 100 hours a week, generating tens of thousands of dollars in income for their owners. He has also said that Tesla should be able to win regulators over to approve Tesla robotaxis for commercial use in the near future, at least in some locales.
Tesla and Uber have seen their semi-autonomous vehicles involved in fatal crashes in recent years.
Khosrowshahi struck a more sober tone about a driverless future.
“I think it will be quite a few years beyond,” he said.
While media coverage and industry conversations have focused on the dramatic notion that robots will steal jobs from people, the Uber CEO said he believes automation will always work better to augment humans’ work. The better things are robots and humans together. Hybrid is always better, and hybrid states can continue for a much longer period than you think.”
In addition to its sizable ride-hailing business, Uber offers bike and scooter rentals, food delivery and operates a freight marketplace that links senders to shippers. Uber is developing self-driving vehicle technology through its Advanced Technologies Group.
Uber’s post-IPO market cap is over $75 billion. (Its post-IPO valuation, on a fully-diluted basis, is over $80 billion.) Tesla’s market cap currently stands around $43 billion.