If Tesla can produce half a million cars by 2020, then Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will buy them all for his service, according to venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson.
Jurvetson, a Tesla board member and partner in the VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, was speaking at the recent Top 10 Tech Trends dinner, put on by the Churchill Club, when he relayed a conversation he'd had with Kalanick about his hopes for "robocars" and the future.
"Travis recently told me that in 2020, if Telsas are autonomous, he'd want to buy all of them. He said all 500,000 of estimated 2020 production, I'd want them all," Jurvetson said. "But he couldn't get a return call from Elon."
Computerworld attempted to contact Uber but had not received a reply at the time of this story's posting.
Telsa CEO Elon Musk has set his sites on putting a self-driving car on the road by 2020, but he hasn't publicly stated the number that would be produced in that year.
Jurvetson said autonomous vehicles will be so compelling that their adoption by commercial and consumer markets is inevitable.
"I'm not saying you're all going to have robocars. But, for those of us who have a chance to be in one, there'll be one of those epiphanies. You'll never go back," Jurvetson said. "I've been in these vehicles... several times, several different types... I'd trust my kids with them."
Jurvetson's remarks were first reported by Forbes.
Initially, Jurvetson said, autonomous vehicles will drive at slower speeds -- 25 mph or less in urban settings -- but they will offer unprecedented fuel and time efficiency.
Self-driving vehicles will offer a 10x improvement in driver safety and fewer deaths on roadways; they'll also reduce the number of cars needed in cities. People will be able to call and get an autonomous car "within 30 seconds of wanting one, at a much lower cost per mile driven. It's in fact much lower-cost than mass transit itself," he said. "Every automotive maker is working down this path."
The average American, Jurvetson said, spends 52 minutes a day in a car -- time that's wasted because they can't be productive. Because autonomous vehicles can predict braking and turning, their suspensions can compensate for sudden movements, offering passengers a smoother ride, enabling a better on-the-road work environment.
"This to me will be such a compelling future that it will drive urban redesign," he said.