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Tesla ride-sharing service will cover drivers with its own insurance program

CEO Elon Musk reiterated plans for what he calls the "Tesla Network" during the automaker's fourth-quarter earnings call.

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Uber and Lyft could face some new competition.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Tesla is riding the bull this year as it quickly builds on momentum from some impressive financial and vehicle delivery figures. However, one of the company's next endeavors won't surround car building at all.

Electrek first reported on Tuesday that plans for a Tesla ride-sharing service are well underway, and the new service will cover drivers under the firm's own insurance program. Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for more information on this news, however.

According to the report, an app will roll out, giving you the ability to hail a Tesla vehicle with a human driver behind the wheel -- a different approach than CEO Elon Musk's goal of rolling out said service with totally self-driving vehicles. However, Musk did seem open to launching such a service before totally autonomous cars are ready. The firm remains bullish on self-driving vehicle technology and believes it will achieve autonomy without lidar technology.

During Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings call, Musk again reiterated support for human drivers for the "Tesla Network." The CEO said "it's probably something that we would enable before a sort of robotaxi fleet is enabled."

As for the insurance aspect, that remains a tad murky. Right now, Tesla's own insurance program, which boasts about rates 30% cheaper than competitors, is only available in California, which could signal the ride-sharing service will first open shop in the state. The company's chief financial officer, Zach Kirkhorn, reiterated Tesla is working on expanding the service outside of California and noted the intense regulatory process to get the program off the ground.

This program may also offer deeper discounts for using Autopilot, something Musk alluded to in the call as well.

Until the company is ready to share more, we don't know when the Tesla Network will be ready for liftoff, or when the insurance operation will expand. However, if Tesla's proven anything in the past few years, the company knows how to get things done when it comes to crunch time.

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