Can Robotaxis work in the city?

As someone that lives in the city, Rideshare is extremely important in my life, even more than it was while I lived in Chicago. Here in San Diego, we do have the Trolley and buses, but they don’t run as frequent and the routes don’t cover much of the city, unlike bigger cities like Chicago or New York City. So when Elon dug into ridesharing, it perked my interest.

Taxis and rideshare companies are extremely practical and easy in high densely populated areas. Many of these individuals try not drive in the city if they don’t have to. They typically take rideshares or hop on bikes/scooters. They also play an integral part where public transportation might be sparse, especially further out from the city you go.

One of my biggest praises for Tesla has been their Supercharging network. The ability to drive almost anywhere in the US and be able to quickly charge the car is a game changer. The Supercharging network is also one of my biggest complaints, especially when it comes to living in the city. There are few within the city itself. If you look at San Diego, there are 3 chargers in “San Diego”, and only 2 are either in downtown or close to downtown.

The Supercharger network was never meant as an every day charger for your car. The cars were meant to be charged at home overnight. But as the cars become more affordable, even more people living in the city will want an EV car. Now add the Tesla Robotaxis to the mix, and Supercharging network in the city becomes even more important.

Which in itself is an interesting problem. If you look at cities, property is at a premium. These cars will need to autonomously charge itself so that it can go back and hail rides. Most Superchargers in the city tend to be either paid parking garages or malls. Paid garages can’t work for the Robotaxis, so can Robotaxis afford to drive out of the city to charge?

Let’s take The Standard Range Plus Model 3 with 240 range. We’ll assume for the sake of battery health that we want to the car to always be between 10-90%. During the winter, I’ve been seeing the average for Model 3s arounds mid to low 80%. Now that it’s getting warmer, we are seeing closer to mid to low 90%.

The average distance for ride shares is about 5 to 7 miles. And assuming it might take a 1 mile at most in a city for a car to come to you, we might be looking at close to 10 miles per trip. Let’s assume that it would take about an average to start and complete a ride.

EfficiencyMin RangeMax RangeTripsTotal Time (hrs)

As you can see, with standard range, it can do a “full day” of work without real worry about finding a charger. As long as the car can keep getting efficient rides, it should be ok.

But adding more cars in an already congested city will just add more congestion to an already crowded roads. What is really needed is more pedestrian areas and less roads.

This is where I see Boring Company coming into play. If the cars can shuttle under the city at high speeds and come out when it’s absolutely needed, it might help solve a lot of the public transportation problems we see, especially in San Diego. And when the battery is extremely low, it can quickly whisk itself out of the city to charge up.

As this becomes more of a reality, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this. If autonomous charging are available in the city, this would position itself in direct competition against Lyft & Uber. But more on that later. Let me know if you are excited for the Tesla fleet to come to your city!

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