On Thursday night, Tesla announced the new Model X and Model S electric vehicles will now come with the necessary hardware to allow them to drive completely autonomously at a future point in time. But buried in the notes about this new functionality there was also a warning to future Tesla owners: don’t expect to be able to use your EV driving for Uber, Lyft, or any other ride-sharing service that isn’t owned by Tesla.
On Tesla’s website, the section that describes the new “Full Self-Driving Capability” (A $3,000 option at the time of purchase, $4,000 after the fact) states “Please note also that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year.”
In Elon Musk’s “Master Plan part 2,” the company’s CEO included plans for a Tesla ride-sharing network, which we know know will be called the Tesla Network. However, no other information about this program has escaped into the wild as yet.
While this is the first instance we can think of where a car company has preemptively banned its customers from using their vehicles for a specific use, post-sale conditions imposed by car companies are not entirely unheard of. Ferrari, for example, has been known to insist that customers buying its most expensive cars (like the Enzo or LaFerrari) promise not to resell them before a certain point, and the Italian sports car maker also famously disliked the way one of its high-profile customers had his car wrapped.
We should also note that this language does not appear to prohibit owners of the latest Model X and Model S EVs from working as drivers for ride-sharing companies as long as they’re controlling the EV themselves. However, sending one’s Tesla out to work for Uber while sitting in the comfort of home will apparently not be tolerated. Quite how Tesla plans to detect and enforce this ban is unclear at this time, although it’s well known that the company will look into the data sent back to its servers if it feels the need.