While Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk acknowledges he’s met with Google executives to discuss integrating its driverless navigation technology with uber-cool, all-electric Tesla vehicles, he also acknowledges he doesn’t see a self-driving Tesla hitting the market any time soon. As he put it, his company has bigger priorities than autonomous cars. Still, he likes the idea down the road, though he added Tesla would likely prefer to build its own — and more cost-effective — driving system.
There’s another, less obvious potential upside for Tesla if driverless cars get traction in the near future, though: Most of the autonomous cars being built and/or planned are electric vehicles, which need high-voltage lithium batteries to operate. They’re available, but Tesla is gearing up to be the only U.S. supplier of these batteries with enough size and scale to satisfy the full demand should electric driverless cars (or even human-controlled EVs) become common.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.