Tesla Quietly Launches First Car Sharing Features in U.S.

After a redesigned Tesla account page launched in the United States, Tesla drivers started to notice some new functionality. In addition to being able to purchase all vehicle upgrades online, Tesla also added a way to share any car on your account with up to 5 other drivers.

This is a small feature, but hints at much bigger things to come. Previously if you wanted to control multiple Teslas within a family, everyone needed to be on the same Tesla account, and everyone could access each others cars. Many families may still choose to do that for simplicity, but now you can also have separate accounts and simply share individual cars over the cloud with multiple Tesla accounts.

A key part of this feature is the ability to remove drivers as well as add them. If someone is borrowing or renting your car, you can now temporarily grant them access without sharing your Tesla credentials. That’s huge, considering people who rented Teslas on services like Turo were never able to use the app or features like smart summon before this new feature made it possible.

How does it work?

The feature couldn’t be simpler: Just type in someone’s name and email, and they’re granted access. With another click, you can remove access.

If the email you enter is a Tesla account, your Tesla will just magically appear in their account. Go ahead, give it a try: Share your Tesla temporarily with a friend who already has a Tesla. After they honk your horn repeatedly from across the country, you can log back in and promptly remove their access to the car.

If the email you enter isn’t a Tesla account, the system will create a Tesla account with that email address. The person will get an email telling them a Tesla has been shared with them, along with a reset password link they can use to pick a password for their brand spanking new Tesla account.

Car Sharing Before Autonomy

Being able to share a Tesla with someone else and control a car from multiple Tesla accounts is part of Tesla’s broader autonomy strategy. The quiet launch of this feature illustrates how Tesla’s car sharing and ride sharing ambitions will play out: successive launches of simple pieces, that form the building blocks of something much greater.

Coming up after this, Tesla will launch the ability to store and sync your driver profile to your Tesla account. Then, you’ll be able to get into any Tesla and have it configured exactly as if it was your own car. After that, Tesla will launch a marketplace to allow you to pay people for access to their cars (car rental / sharing).

Put these pieces together and you start to understand how Robotaxis launch across the world, piece by piece:

Home away from Home

Tom is a New York Tesla driver who is traveling to California. He drives and parks his Tesla at the airport, and boards a flight to California. On the plane, he books a Model 3 rental that is close to LAX. After paying the rental fee, the car shows up in his Tesla account automatically. He’s able to use the Tesla app to see its location, find it, and unlock it. When he enters the car, it’s setup exactly like his car back home. When he gets back home, everything he did in the car in California carries over like he never left. Doesn’t that sound cool?

Of course, Autopilot will help Tom navigate California. If driverless operation is approved, the car might pick him up rather than the other way around. But until that happens, Tesla can still launch car sharing with human supervision before Robotaxis are legally approved. On one of Tesla’s recent earnings calls, CEO Elon Musk promised to do exactly that.

What’s next?

Keep an eye on this extremely exciting project. The Tesla Network will be huge, and it’s not just about autonomy. If you look at Tesla’s latest impact report, they’re evaluating their impact for normal and ride sharing use. This isn’t a joke, or some kind of stock pump. Tesla is getting into car sharing and ride sharing in a big way. Watch out, Uber and Lyft.

This is going to transform Tesla’s business at a fundamental level, and break every model used to value the company. What if instead of paying for cars, people paid for rides? With little features like these, Tesla is on their way to finding out.

My user feedback to Tesla, trying this early version?

  1. Allow an expiration time, when access to the vehicle is automatically revoked. Could be handy for rental applications. This cutoff time could be shown to users, which might actually be better than losing access by surprise if the owner remembers.
  2. It would be great if we could share the car directly from the mobile app, but maybe they decided keeping it web only would be more secure and keep mobile simpler. I guess it’s not something you do everyday, but in the future maybe it will be.

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