Elon Musk has long since pointed to a future view of Telsa owners subsidizing their ownership costs by renting their vehicles out via a peer to peer car share model, similar to Turo. He’s even gone as far as suggesting that with the autonomous capabilities of Telsa vehicles, a private owner could launch a Robotaxi service while his/her Model S is not currently being used. Imagine commuting into work in the morning and instead of having to pay for an unused, parked car in the nearby parking garage, the Model S was being utilized by others in the marketplace and actually earning revenue.
Telsa has continued to take steps toward this reality, first by clarifying insurance concerns (the driver share app will provide/include insurance) and now by making modifications to the Telsa owner’s app. Owners are now able to add up to 5 approved drivers to their account, quickly facilitating a shared model. Elon Musk has hinted further in a recent earnings call that this would be one of many steps toward the Telsa car-sharing marketplace.
How does this affect traditional car rental? Maybe not directly or at first, but Telsa could continue to provide access to its marketplace within its own walled garden of its owner’s app and Telsa inventory on peer to peer marketplaces will be greatly reduced. As a longer term play, small operators could own their own fleet of Telsa vehicles which are put into Robotaxi modes, providing Uber like trips to airport and local renters alike through a subscription fee or ride based model. In any case, autonomous vehicles, like Telsa, will play a large role in how the car rental industry evolves.