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Who Will Win The Lucrative Autonomous Vehicles (Robotaxis) Race?


  • The global autonomous vehicle [AV] market demand is expected to reach 4.2 million units by 2030, expanding at a CAGR of 63.1% from 2020 to 2030.
  • AV revenues will be spread across several areas such as the software developers, hardware developers, the EV companies selling EV fleets, and finally the most profitable will be robotaxi services.
  • An owned robotaxi could make US$30,000+ pa and a 1m fleet $30b+ pa. A look at the leading players in the robotaxi race and the possible near term winners.
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One of the major trends of the 2020's will be autonomous vehicles [AVs] used as robotaxis, known as Autonomous Ride Services [ARS], helped by the recent development of the 'million-mile battery'. There will be different types of services (fixed route, variable route, taxi, ride share) depending on the offering. Fixed route services have already begun in parts of the USA and China, but should grow rapidly from here. Variable route services can potentially follow if the technology allows. Taxi services will be similar to today but with no driver. Ride share will probably end up being the most profitable and cost effective with one vehicle having several paying customers.

Ride sharing services (Lyft, Uber etc) which typically charge ~US$2/mile will need to become autonomous otherwise they will not be competitive, as autonomous ride services will be profitable at ~US$1/mile.

It should also be noted in the future that ALL autonomous vehicles will need to be fully electric vehicles [EVs] in order to be competitive. This means those companies able to rapidly build out a battery electric vehicle [BEV] fleet have some initial advantage.

Autonomous vehicle revenues will be spread across several areas such as the software developers, hardware developers, the EV companies selling EV fleets, and finally the robotaxi services. The later looks like being one of the biggest opportunities

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Comments (216)

Economic theory says that the revenue that is generated by commodity device tends to be the amortized cost, maintenance & liability/compliance of the underlying commodity plus a standard rate of return on the commodity. The price of taxi service is going to be a lot less than what speculators think.
ronald61239 profile picture
Interesting article on Bloomberg, "Hydrogen War".

It tells of big demand for Electrolyzer equipment. How this equipment will allow Green Hydrogen using renewable energy, less expensive with out producing Co2. How large Co. are looking for expertise in hydrogen & the market in 30 years could be as large as 700 Bln. & more in this article.

My thought on this, it would lead to the replacement of batteries in autos.

"My thought on this, it would lead to the replacement of batteries in autos."

Aint happening....commercial long distance haulage, trucks, trains, ship...yeah. Consumer Auto market nuddah...

1. Refueling a BEV will ALWAYS be cheaper

2.BEVS will be more efficient ALWAYS

3.Destination Charging for BEV is becoming accepted and ubiquitous and 90% of trips can be catered for in that manner and Fast Charging will be there for longer distance travels

4. Despite the need for less batteries, FCEV's are still more expensive than BEV's and will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.

5. Transportation and storage of H2 is still and will be way more expensive and requires alot of safety measure.No one wants a H2 refueling station in their neighborhood - they go POP sometimes. Two have..Norway and California. Electricity is everywhere...and if its not - Easy to set up a Solar/Wind Powered Station.
ronald61239 profile picture
@Skip181sg ----Yes, that is what is happening now. I just pointed out to read the article. Have U read it. They are finding ways to ship it and store it safely.

I'm not a scientist. I have also read what U have written. I also know it is being done now with hydrogen powered auto's.

Don't forget the whole purpose of getting away from gasoline. It's, clean air & to reduce carbon dioxide to save the world. At what cost is it worth.

Also, In the production of batteries there is carbon dioxide produced they say.

"Also, In the production of batteries there is carbon dioxide produced they say."

Which can and is being reduced and eliminated in the multiple steps along the way in extraction, processing and manufacturing
Tesla Full Self-Driving Rewrite Compilation Video + Analysis, & Impact on TSLA:

Just watched a video by Tesla Raj on the Tesla FSD. In a residential area, not geo-fenced like Waymo....

Seemed pretty good...
The video of the 'computer view" is somewhat freaky...it really feels like an AI 'looking' at the world.
Do you have a link you could post?
Trend Investing profile picture
"Cruise gives chase to Waymo in autonomous tech battle. Ark Research analyst Tasha Keeney.... says Cruise is in all likelihood about two years behind Waymo (NASDAQ:GOOG), which is ramping toward a full commercial autonomous taxi network launch in Phoenix. "ARK's research suggests that the autonomous driving industry will submit to natural geographic monopolies thanks to the amount of location-specific driving data necessary to launch. With high vehicle utilization rates, first movers will be able to collect 'big data' and build significant barriers to entry...... "With the largest autonomous-capable fleet in the world, Tesla could have a significant advantage over competitors. GM's scale and manufacturing capability could provide Cruise with a competitive advantage over Waymo, which outsources production to traditional automakers...."

if FSD autonomous driverless robotaxis are going to be proven viable - practical - with a demand - and above all Profitable and Efficient - it will happen in China ... long before anywhere else.

There are already more fsd autonomous taxi tests being done in china than anywhere else. imho Pheonix and san fran are nothing burgers. But time will tell.

Tesla won't make a success out of robotaxis or it's driver assist system long term. Too unstable and irrational and no Lidar radar and no 5G systems either etc. Tesla is going to be left behind imo.
see my other post below eg

Beijing is the third city in China Baidu opens the Apollo GO Robotaxi service to the public following Changsha and Cangzhou.


What's happening in China who is doing what when and why is not well known in the western hyperbole sphere nor how much the various national state city govts are backing in / facilitating new developments from 5G IoV integration, L4/L5 autonomy and remote control EVs, taxi and bus EVs, new expanded battery swapping (standardisation) and new charging piles including intercity routes etc etc.

Not only that but the cooperation between Chinese companies is massive including 'funding/investments and international players.
johnafish profile picture
1. Driving around empty 50% of the time is fantasy, they'll be empty 90% of the time because everyone wants taxis at about the same time of day and if you have enough to cover peak periods then most will be idle outside the rush hours.

2. No-one knows how much an SAE level 5 vehicle will cost except maybe Waymo and they're not telling. But it's a lot of money.

3. The idea that Tesla are anywhere near SAE level 4/5 is laughable. Their car can't even negotiate a parking lot at walking pace safely. It has a good highway driver assist but it's not autonomous and no Tesla built to date every will be.

4. Once you factor in the price of the vehicle, the extra cost of insurance, cleaning, repairs, support and the low utilisation due to high peak demand and low off-peak demand the finances turn upside down. The whole concept is a bust.
@johnafish re: "Once you factor in the price of the vehicle, the extra cost of insurance, cleaning, repairs, support and the low utilisation due to high peak demand and low off-peak demand the finances turn upside down. The whole concept is a bust."; Uber and/or Lyft with cost per mile 1/10th the current costs would not be an effective business model? Both companies desperately need reduced costs, because both have never made a profit.
Trend Investing profile picture
@johnafish - I do agree 50% of the time empty seems rather dumb. I think ultimately autonomous ride sharing vehicles on set routes is more likely to ease traffic congestion and be the most cost effective. Assumes a post COVID-19 world.
johnafish profile picture
@Matt Bohlsen

"autonomous ride sharing vehicles on set routes is more likely to ease traffic congestion"

Imagine if you put those 'vehicles' underground in tunnels, or elevated above ground on rails, that would be an incredible way to move people around cities and ease traffic congestion.

In a 'post-COVID' world you could make the 'vehicles' quite large, maybe seat 20 or 30 people sitting and standing, you could attach several together depending on capacity needs. In such a scenario it may be possible to power the 'vehicles' from rails they run on or overhead wires removing the need for the most expensive component - the batteries.

Sarcasm aside, I'm just unconvinced by the benefit of autonomy in a taxi situation, sure you save a drivers salary, but everything else is a downside with added liability. Many additional costs erode the benefit of the salary reduction and then there are multiple entities expecting to take a cut.
ronald61239 profile picture
Being reported: Ford Escape PHEV production moved to next year. Because of Kuga PHEV vehicles catching fire. Seems they have same parts.

GM Bolt being investigated for catching fire while parked and unattended.

Not a good idea to park in your garage. I would think.
150 Gasoline car Fires A Day according to a recent FEMA report. From 2014 to 2016, 171,500 vehicle fires occurred in the United States, resulting in an annual average of 345 deaths; 1,300 injuries and $1.1 billion in property loss.
RickJensen profile picture
There are about 270M ICE cars in the US. It is not valid under any circumstances, to try to compare that to less than 1.5M total EVs that are less than 10 years old.

Did you now that the average growth rate of bamboo is 1 inch every 40 minutes?

Did you know that the for the first time in history, 90 percent of Americans over 25 years of age have finished high school.

Did you know that the vast majority of people don't understand that correlation isn't causation?
Ralf Anders profile picture
NURO is NeuroMetrix, not nuro.ai, which is not exchange-listed
Ralf Anders profile picture
There will be several types of autonomy: inner-city, offroad, highway, fixed-route etc. with differences across regions. Therefore, it's not a "winner-takes-it-all" game.
@Ralf Anders "There will be several types of autonomy: [...]"

I think you've made a great point. And the first really reliable and safe version will be on dedicated roads that control the traffic driving on them. People continually underestimate the complexity of driving and how hard it is for a car to just 'drive itself' with sensors and a computer. Tesla's "Smart Summon" is a comedy of errors just trying to drive 2mph through a parking lot - getting confused, going the wrong way down one-way lanes, driving over grass - and we are supposed to believe their cars can handle highway driving situations? Not with me or my family inside, thanks - despite "statistics" showing they are 'five times safer'. BS. Only if you lump in drunk, drugged, distracted and otherwise impaired drivers, of which I am not one.
Shanghai (Gasgoo)- Baidu announced on October 11 that it has fully opened its Apollo Go Robotaxi service to ordinary users in Beijing.

Consumers are able to enjoy self-driving taxi rides for free in dozens of pick-up spots in Beijing Economic Technological Development Area, Haidian District and Shunyi District with no appointment required.

According to Baidu's Sina Weibo account, the free robotaxi service will be available from October 10 to November 6.

Based on the current laws and regulations, safety drivers are still required to ensure driving safety.

Beijing is the third city in China Baidu opens the Apollo GO Robotaxi service to the public following Changsha and Cangzhou.

At Baidu World 2020 held in mid-September, Baidu showcased the newest autonomous car it jointly developed with Hongqi, FAW Group's premium car brand, which has no safety driver behind the steering wheel.

Other breakthroughs related to fully automated driving unveiled at the same time include:

· An “experienced AI driver” referring to Apollo autonomous driving system

· 5G Remote Driving Service that allows human operators to remotely control vehicles through the cloud in the case of emergencies

· Pre-installed and mass-produced autonomous vehicles offering better safety performance than modified vehicles

On the same day, the tech giant announced that Hunan Apollo Intelligent Transportation (Hunan Apollo), a Hunan operator of the Apollo Robotaxi service, was permitted on Sept. 15 by Changsha regulators to test intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs) without any safety officer, becoming the first company in China that obtained such kind of permit.

ref autonews.gasgoo.com/...


China's first L4 level 5G driverless car achieves mass production


China's first L4 level 5G self-driving car - the Dongfeng Sharing-VAN rolled off the production line today.

Dongfeng Sharing-VAN is the "1.0 plus" version, equipped with 4 LIDARs. 1 millimeter wave radar, 16 ultrasonic radars and 12 cameras.

It has functions such as dynamic speed limit, roundabout passage, dynamic obstacle avoidance, multi-vehicle formation, automatic parking, remote control and dispatch monitoring.

ref cntechpost.com/...


Can Tesla do this in China? Or anywhere else on Earth?

Apparently no, it can't.
@Muscone "According to Baidu's Sina Weibo account, the free robotaxi service will be available from October 10 to November 6."

Without a human presence, who is going to know or worry that the prior passenger with covid symptoms coughed all over the inside of the back seat area?
Nice article, no doubt we must pay attention to this matter.
Nick Cox profile picture
Interesting article.

I think the writer is correct and this is a highly under-rated revenue potential for Tesla.

In my view,China may lead the4 move to robo-taxis as their government are more pro-active in developing AI transport solutions than is the U.S. government.
Will be volatile, but once technology is developed, likely profits will also evaporate and become a numbers game, based on manufacturing and finance. What is the differentiation?
fine wine profile picture
1) Whomever develops true level 5 autonomous vehicles first will become the most valued company in market history,

2) It will replace practically all class 8 drivers.

3) It will decimate the sales of all car companies by making car ownership a quaint luxury. Highly efficient mobile transport that will bring the cost per mile per passenger to a fraction of today's cost with personal vehicles.

4) This does not bode well for the stock price of any auto mfg but particularly catastrophic for overpriced car mfg stock Tesla - even if it is the one to develop the technology first.

5) Drone vehicles will follow quickly - and may even precede level 5 in ground transport - since navigation a 1,000 feet off the ground with virtually no obstructions is much easier to automate than travel on the ground. Indeed, today's commercial aircraft are mostly flown without pilot input.
ContyC profile picture
@fine wine You live in a SF movie, not in the real world. Drone vehicles flying at 1,000 feet off the ground? Who would allow such thing? Who would board such thing? This is total nonsense.
I think you would be surprised how far along that technology is. They are extremely safe - obviously won't launch until they can demonstrate that. China will likely lead the way. Look at EHANG. I'm sure at some point in history someone said about the airplane "Who would allow such thing, who would board such at thing"
bpayne37 profile picture
Too large [> one page] software modules to prevent software safety certification? Boeing hardware engineers 1966- through 1980+ software standards require less than one page modules. "At that stage [1990+ ?], C an C++"absolutely owned the universe" and everything was being written in those languages." Java founder James Gosling stated. Autopilot company job search reveals this technology used. Tesla announced two versions of Linux [c/c++ implemented] used in its autopilot software. :(
Comprehensive article and I didn't have to pay for it.Thanks
Retired Fernando profile picture
By 2040 robotaxis will even fly!!
Thio TC profile picture
Thank you Matt... great article with lots of important references.
I look at this race in another way. I see it as AMERICA vs. Europe and the rest of the world. With our Silicon Valley tech gurus, I believe we have an edge. Tesla, Google, GM is pushing very hard and giving themselves a lot of competition and incentives to perform at a fast pace.
ds1986 profile picture
I wonder when the perception shifted that Uber would benefit greatly from AV tech to it's going to disrupt their business model?

I frankly don't even see how you could deploy FSD taxis without the existing ride-share apps..

Seems too obvious that whoever comes up with a reliable FSD taxi will sell them to be operated on Lyft/Uber rather than try to market their own app in 1000s of local markets..
@ds1986 writing an app is so easy. And people will find it, hear about it, discover it - if it is something as special as autonomous robotaxis.

Uber and Lyft could see usage drop by 70% in a month when Tesla is given permission to open their Tesla Network app to riders and cut Uber's prices by 80% or more.

At least I can say Tesla has plenty of software engineering talent to pull off such things. Don't know about Waymo, but probably. Doubt it w/Cruise and multiply the doubt for Argo and Uber themselves.

Ride-share apps have nothing, no hook, once a better option comes along. Leaving Uber forever is as easy as downloading a new app.
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