Note — Sep 09, 2018

Tesla, Software and Disruption

Ben Evans taking a pretty thorough look at the different pieces of the electric car puzzle that Tesla (and others) could use to disrupt parts of the industry, and benefit from “winner take all” dynamics. His conclusion is that it’s not a given that there’s even the possibility of such a disruption, except perhaps in the self-driving aspect and even there, Google’s Waymo could get there first.

Being first is not the same as having a sustainable competitive advantage, no matter how disruptive you are, and the advantage might be somewhere else. […]

Much of this is probably going to change. We will go from complex cars with simple software to simple cars with complex software. Instead of many stand-alone embedded systems each doing one thing, we’ll have cheap dumb sensors and actuators controlled by software on a single central control board, running some sort of operating system, with many different threads (there are a few candidates). This is partly driven by electric, but becomes essential for autonomy. […]

[I]t’s entirely possible that Waymo, or someone else, gets autonomy to work in 202x with a $1000 or $2000 LIDAR and vision sensor suite and Tesla still doesn’t have it working with vision alone.