Tesla’s California launch of a branded insurance product promising rates 20% to 30% lower than the standard quickly hit an algorithmic bump in the road.
A few hours after the offering went live Wednesday afternoon, “the company stopped offering rate quotes and suspended access to the insurance website. It now appears to be live again.… But even during the time Tesla’s insurance site was working and offering owners quotes, some people weren’t happy with the results,” writes Sean O’Kane for The Verge.
“Tesla tells The Verge those two things are actually related; the company says it found ‘bugs’ that were affecting some customers’ rate quotes, but it declined to offer any specifics beyond that.”
“Applications and quotes were no longer being processed due to an ‘algorithm update in process,’ according to the company's Twitter account,” Liane Yvkoff writes for Forbes. That was at 7:06 p.m. on Aug. 28. The website was reactivated at 5 p.m. Pacific on Aug. 29.
“The old algorithm was so bad you had to pull down the site 2 hours after launch?” Luis Carruthers replied to @Tesla.
Indeed it was, it appears.
“Almost immediately after it was announced, customers posted on Twitter and Reddit quotes for 6-month comprehensive coverage policies that were often at least 10% higher than the policies the owners currently had, with some being multiples of what they currently paid,” Yvkoff reports.
“It's not clear how Tesla can profitably undercut the premiums of traditional insurance companies. Those companies are experts at gathering and analyzing data to estimate the likely costs of insuring vehicles. Tesla obviously knows more than anyone else about how its cars are designed, but it’s not clear that Tesla has dramatically better data than insurance companies about how often its cars crash -- or how expensive they are to repair,” Timothy B. Lee writes for Ars Technica.
And it “explicitly disavows” using GPS or vehicle camera footage to determine a driver’s proclivities toward speeding and dodging in and out of lanes on the interstate.
“Because Tesla knows its vehicles best, Tesla Insurance is able to leverage the advanced technology, safety, and serviceability of our cars to provide insurance at a lower cost. This pricing reflects the benefits of Tesla's active safety and advanced driver assistance features that come standard on all new Tesla vehicles,” the company claims in a blog post.
“The policies will only be for personal usage of the Tesla cars, but the Palo Alto, California, company also wants to eventually offer commercial policies. It’s a move Tesla may have to take if [Tesla honcho Elon] Musk is to deliver on his promise to begin selling Tesla vehicles capable of navigating roads without a driver behind the wheel within the next 16 months…. Musk has promised to have a fleet of robotic Teslas operating as part of a ride-hailing service by the end of next year,” the AP’s Michael Liedtke and Tom Krisher write.
“To make that vision a reality, the driverless cars will need commercial insurance -- something no company but Tesla may be willing to provide, given it probably will be exploring uncharted territory if it’s able to dispatch fully autonomous vehicles to pick up passengers,” they add.
Meanwhile, Musk sat down for a convo with his fellow confirmed workaholic, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai yesterday. Both Musk and Ma have been known to work 100-plus-hour weeks personally, and Ma has touted the concept of a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. workday, Monday through Saturday, for us peons. But yesterday, Ma told Musk that he foresees the day when the normal work week will be a mere 12 hours.
“In the next 20 to 30 years, human beings will live much longer. Life science technology is going to make people live probably 100 or 120 years,” he said. “That may not be a good thing because you get your grandfather’s grandfather still working hard.”
“But it didn’t matter, he said, as the world wouldn’t need a lot of jobs,” Anna Fifield reports for The Washington Post.
“‘I think people should work three days a week, four hours a day,’ he said, citing previous technological leaps such as the Industrial Revolution and the use of electricity as improving work-life balance.”
On that note, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We’ll see you Tuesday morning.