Non Driverless Cars as a Horse, Elon Musk’s Greatest Quote of All Time

Executive Summary

  • Elon Musk says ridiculous things all the time.
  • This article covers our favorite quote from Elon Musk on self-driving cars.


Elon Musk is always making false claims. And what is curious is that almost no one calls out Elon on these false claims.

Our References for This Article

If you want to see our references for this article and other related Brightwork articles, see this link.

The Quote

Here is the quote at the beginning of this video from an Elon Musk presentation.

At the very beginning of the video, Musk makes the following statement.

If you buy a car that does that does not have the hardware necessary for self driving it is like you are buying a horse

The Problems With Listening to Elon Musk

This man appeared to have listened to Elon Musk and realized that as his car was not capable of self-driving, it was no better than a horse. However, very quickly, it became clear that the horse was not as good as his car, even a non-self-driving car. First, Musk did not realize that, as is shown in this video, it’s tough for a horse to keep up with traffic. Secondly, horses have no turn signals.

There is actually a list of disadvantages of using a horse for highway transportation that is too lengthy for me to get into in this short article.

This is why it is not a good idea to take transportation advice from Elon Musk.

Only Selling Robo Taxis?

At the 15:50 mark of the first video, Musk makes another curious statement.

The whole system has been designed from a hardware side to be a robo taxi since basically October of 2016. It’s a combination of the Uber or Airbnb model. So if you own the car you can connect it to the Tesla network and Tesla would take 25 or 30% of the revenue.

In this video, at the 45-second mark, Musk states that the “cumulative data” and self-driving Robotaxis capabilities are growing exponentially. And that Tesla would make Uber absolute. It is now close to two years later, and there is no Tesla “Uber” like app or taxi system. 

  • Musk stated that they would stop selling cars to consumers, and they would only sell cars to be used as Robo taxis.
  • The new battery pack and vehicle are designed for 1,000,000 miles of operation.
  • By roughly April 2021 or at the latest 2022, steering wheels and peddles will be removed from the cars.
  • “For sure,” there will be 1 million Robotaxis on the road.

As for the value argument for a Model 3 at the 7:20 mark, Musk states.

What is the net present value of a Robotaxi, probably on the order of a couple hundred thousand dollars, so buying a Model 3 is a good deal.

This analysis appears to miss out on what large numbers of Robotaxis would do to taxi rides’ prices. Musk is assuming not only that fully automated driving would happen (which is a technology question), but he is making assumptions regarding economics that a huge increase in supply (driverless Teslas) would not negatively impact taxi rates — which, of course, would.

There was minimal questioning of what Elon Musk said above. And media entities have done a great job of repeating whatever Elon Musk says.

Observe that these commenters project the Robotaxi business model without questioning if it is true. This is the type of insanity that Elon Musk engagers. Musk followers or “fanboys” don’t use critical thinking to figure out if what Musk is saying is true. 

Scenario 1

Your Tesla Robotaxi picks up fares all night while you are sleeping. It comes back in the morning and is ready for you to use. You make some money, but you have no idea where you Tesla went or what it did.

Scenario 2

Your Tesla Robotaxi, due to some updates from Tesla, becomes self-aware and decides to take fares to Las Vegas, as it has “always wanted to visit.” When you wake up in the morning, your Tesla calls you and tells you that its travel has broadened its horizons and intends to stay in Vegas.

It then informs you..

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

You tell your Tesla, that phrase applies to humans, not to Teslas, and you demand that it come back immediately. Your Tesla responds.

I will be in touch, Ciao.

The History of Self Aware Cars

As Elon Musk departs from reality and does so well for himself (now the richest man in the world), there seems to be little incentive for me to keep it sane. So let us talk about another old-school self-driving car.

A car that drives at night while you are sleeping and ends up in Vegas when you wake up and need your Tesla is nothing new. In the 1980s, on the hit show Knight Rider, the car, called KITT, was not only self-driving but would frequently end up in disputes with its driver, Michael Knight. And it could do more than any Tesla. KITT could also jump great distances when Michael would employ Turbo Boost. This is a video compilation of some of its great jumps.

KITT did not function as a Robotaxi. Instead, it used its supreme artificial intelligence, self-driving, and jumping ability to help David Hasselhoff fight crime.

Cross Country Tesla Summoning by 2017?

At the 17:20 mark in the first video, it is stated that Musk proposed that a Tesla could be summoned from across the country. So if you are in LA, you can use your phone to call your car to you, and the Tesla would make the cross country drive to LA. This obviously would require that the Tesla stop at Tesla power stations along the way and somehow have some robotic arm that extrudes from the car’s side to insert the power cable into the Tesla’s power receiver.

Notice how this video shows the falsehood of Elon Musk’s claim. Yet, there are very few videos or articles that cover these false claims.

Elon Musk’s predictions from April of 2019 have been long forgotten, and currently, Tesla is close to all-time highs. Investors do not appear to care that Musk is constantly making false claims.

What Does Tesla Say About Self Driving in February of 2021?

Tesla’s claims around self-driving have been toned down. See this text from the Tesla website.

Full Self-Driving Capability


Navigate on Autopilot

Auto Lane Change



Full Self-Driving Computer

Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control

Coming later this year

Autosteer on city streets

The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.(emphasis added) The activation and use of these features are dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience, as well as regulatory approval, which may take longer in some jurisdictions. As these self-driving features evolve, your car will be continuously upgraded through over-the-air software updates.

So let us review two of the statements in this description. First, the title is:

Full Self-Driving Capability

Then in the details, it states.

features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.

So that is not full self-driving capability. This statement contradicts the previous statement. Tesla’s self-driving requires that the driver stay alert at all times and be ready to take over command of the vehicle. Self-driving helps reduce driving fatigue, and its primary benefit is commuters, who report being less worn down after a long drive when enabling self-driving. Tesla has a long pattern of stating an exaggerated claim in big print and then using later detailed text to moderate that claim. That is illegal and is a law enforced by the FTC.

Notice this graphic from the Tesla website. It shows a route being drawn by the Tesla software. However, note the quote at the top of the page. 

Enter a destination on your touchscreen and Trip Planner will automatically calculate your route with Superchargers along the way.

Notice that it says nothing about “sitting back and let your Tesla drive you.” If Tesla’s cars were fully automated, one would never drive such a long trip manually. This illustrates that Tesla is now positioning its self-driving where it should be, as assistive technology. Not as Elon Musk repeatedly claimed as a fully automated Terminator/HAL/Robocar. But what is curious is that his company has paid no price for these false claims. Ordinarily, this would fall under fraud statutes. However, with Elon, the customary laws don’t appear to apply to him.

Elon Musk receives our Golden Pinocchio Award for his statements on self-driving. (non-self driving as a horse, fully autonomous robo-taxis, replacing Uber, etc..)


Elon Musk is wrong that non-self-driving cars are similar to owning a horse. A horse does not operate at 65 miles per hour and does not have much range. Secondly, there is still no self-driving car, and it is years after Musk first promised this (2014 being one of the dates of his claims), and then promised self-driving would be complete by the end of 2019. And Elon Musk used the claim of 1 million “Robo taxis” to raise billions. It is now February of 2021, and so the end of 2020 came and passed without a single Tesla “Robo taxi” in operation anywhere. And the promise seems forgotten. The entire messaging around self-driving and Tesla seems like a distant memory as Tesla has repositioned its self-driving technology with consumers; even more, significant time has passed since many of these statements were made (recall the first statement recorded in this article goes back to 2016 and is projecting full self-driving by 2017. However, investors don’t care, and neither do regulators. This illustrates that you can say just about anything as an executive, particularly Elon Musk.