It has long seemed to me that the Tesla Model 3 (or Tesla Model X if in the right price class) is more than competitive in the taxi market, or any other high-mileage market. Generally speaking, the more you drive a vehicle, the more money an electric vehicle is going to save you. So, I’ve been a bit surprised to not see more large orders of the Tesla Model 3 for taxi or other transportation service companies. From what I can tell, the Tesla Model 3 even makes sense for normal, not-so-high-milage drivers. When you’re in the drive-all-day-and-(maybe)-night business, the cash consideration becomes stronger.
Well, it appears the idea is starting to catch on. Perhaps most of these companies simply wanted to see proof of decent reliability, low ownership costs, and durability. Some initial Consumer Reports research found a lot of Model 3 service issues, but as time has gone on, it appears those problems have dwindled away for new car purchases. (Not to say there won’t always be some problematic cases.) Two days ago, we reported on a German taxi operator ordering 50 Tesla Model 3s. Now we find out that a Las Vegas company has that order beat.
Kaptyn, a Transportations as a Service (TaaS) technology company in Las Vegas, today launched 30 Teslas in its on-demand transportation (i.e., taxi) service in Vegas. The main hub for the Kaptyn service will be McCarran International Airport. Naturally, the announcement coincides with CES 2020, since it makes so much sense to break news when every other tech company in the world is breaking news. (But hey, we’re covering it, aren’t we? And thanks to Daryl Elliott for passing along the story.)
Initially, I thought, “That’s a big order. We should probably cover that.” As I jumped into the story, though, I saw it was about much more than 30 Teslas. This taxi company has 872 taxis, and 1,400 vehicles in total. The 30 Tesla Model 3s it launched today aren’t the end of the road — they’re basically just a soft launch. The number of electric vehicles in the fleet will be in the hundreds by sometime in February. The fleet will include Model 3, Model X, and Model S vehicles — it’s not clear yet what the exact split will be. Furthermore, the company already has ~100 chauffeurs trained to drive the Teslas. (Not that it requires a lot of training to drive a Tesla, but it does require an orientation.) Before too long, Vegas may look like a satellite extension of Tesla Gigafactory 1 or the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.
What will Kaptyn do if/when Tesla launches Full Self Driving in Nevada? I assume the company would just install the update, activate the Tesla Network option (which may have a different name when it goes live), and start running the service without drivers.
We will follow up soon to find out if the February target is hit, and how the service is going in its first phase.
But the question is: will passengers accept the Teslas?
Hehe — just kidding. Of course they’ll love them!
Image courtesy Kaptyn