Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) chief executive officer Elon Musk is known for pushing limits — from his creation of rocket company SpaceX to his dramatic purchase of Twitter. Musk often makes the news with his groundbreaking ideas and showstopping actions. His comments have even been known to send a stock or cryptocurrency higher or lower.
Clearly, Musk hasn’t escaped the eyes of Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett and vice chairman Charlie Munger. The billionaire investors spoke of Musk during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting earlier this month. They applauded Musk’s ability to aim high and follow through on his goals.
Could this once again lead to something big on the horizon? Let’s find out.
Buffett praises Musk
First, let’s look at Buffett’s and Munger’s comments about the dynamic CEO.
Musk has “a dedication to solving the impossible, and every now and then, he’ll do it,” Buffett said, according to a Business Insider report. And Munger added, “He would not have achieved what he has in life if he hadn’t tried for unreasonably extreme objectives.”
So now we might wonder: What happens next? The next attempt at solving the impossible is underway — and Musk says it may bear fruit this year. I’m talking about Tesla’s venture into robotaxis, featuring autonomous driving technology.
The electric vehicle (EV) giant has spoken of a fleet of robotaxis specifically dedicated to taxi work — pushing the idea of regular Teslas sent out by their owners for taxi assignments instead of sitting in a parking lot or garage all day. In this case, Teslas, equipped with full self-driving software, would be able to go out and “work” while their owners aren’t using them. Musk says both owners and Tesla could earn revenue in such a situation. Tesla in the past has set goals for the release of robotaxis, only to lengthen the timeline.
But in a CNBC interview this month, Musk expressed optimism about releasing completely self-driving Teslas this year.
Musk sparks debate
As always, Musk’s venture into the unknown has sparked a lot of debate. Famous investor Cathie Wood and her firm Ark Invest recently lifted their 2027 price target on Tesla to $2,000 per share. This is driven by confidence in the robotaxi program. Ark’s Tesla research predicts the robotaxi line may represent 67% of Tesla’s enterprise value by that time and 64% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).
But Tesla hasn’t convinced everyone. Some investors have been disappointed by the delays so far. Others worry about safety. Ark says its data suggests that fully self-driving Teslas are five times safer than Teslas operated by drivers.
Still, getting regulators on board may be a different story. This represents a risk for the robotaxi program.
It’s also not clear whether Tesla owners would easily sign up for the opportunity to send their cars out on assignment — or whether people would feel comfortable in a taxi operating autonomously. And that means it’s difficult to truly predict how much a robotaxi fleet could bring to Tesla. Again, Musk is venturing into uncharted waters.
Is another big win just ahead?
Let’s get back to our original question: Is Musk’s quest for solving the impossible leading to another big win? It’s too early to know for sure. And the fact that he’s extended the timeline more than once means I’m very cautious about his latest prediction.
That said, robotaxi fleet aside, there’s still reason to be optimistic about Tesla. The company’s revenue climbed more than 50% last year, and net income doubled. And in the first quarter of this year, EV deliveries continue to rise in the double digits.
If Tesla is able to eventually launch robotaxis, I see this as a plus. And Warren Buffett might once again congratulate Musk for solving the impossible.
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Adria Cimino has positions in Tesla. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Berkshire Hathaway and Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.