Tesla wants to change that. During its earnings call Wednesday, the company revealed that it wants to offer a pay-one-price model that will include both insurance and maintenance for the entirety of the vehicle’s lifetime.
Tesla has already been testing the business model in Asia.
Currently, existing car insurance companies underwrite the policies with Tesla paying for them upfrontand then tacking the cost onto the car’s purchase price, but CEO Elon Musk made it clear Tesla would explore all options. “If we find that the insurance providers are not matching the insurance proportionate to the risk of the car, then if we need to, we will in-source it,” he said during the call, according to Elektrek. “But I think we’ll find that insurance providers do adjust the insurance cost proportionate to the risk of a Tesla.”
After the 2014 rollout of the Autopilot feature, which aids drivers during highway driving, Teslas were found to get in 40 percent fewer accidents, according to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January. That study came in response to a fatal crash in May 2016, in which a Tesla vehicle using Autopilot crashed into a tractor trailer, killing its driver. Tesla concluded that the vehicle’s system had not noticed the white, reflective trailer against the sky. Months later, it released a software update that Musk said would likely have prevented the problem.
Tesla has said that sometime this year, it plans to begin equipping all of its new vehicles with the hardware necessary to drive fully autonomously. As a half proof of concept, half publicity stunt, the company plans to have a vehicle drive from New York to Los Angeles without a driver sometimes this year.
The death in May is the only known fatality to occur while using Tesla’s autopilot feature. The company says Teslas have now driven more than 200 million miles. On average, human drivers suffer about one fatality per 90 million miles driven, according to the NHTSA.
Tesla is due to begin shipping its $35,000 Model 3, the least expensive electric vehicle to hit the market, sometime this year. The company has already received nearly 400,000 preorders. Eliminating variables by rolling insurance and maintenance into the initial cost could make that package even more attractive to customers.
Tesla has not yet revealed when it plans to make this option available in the United States, or how much it might cost. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Tesla’s announcement came during an earnings call in which the company revealed quarterly losses that were wider than Wall Street expectations. Tesla has struggled to hit production goals for its vehicles in recent months, which has worried some analysts.
The company also revealed it’s scouting locations for three new Gigafactories that it claims would help ramp up its manufacturing capacity. The company’s Nevada factory, which is still under construction, is currently mass producing batteries for its vehicles.