Tech Investor Warns Against Overrating Tesla’s Full Self-Driving: “By No Means Autonomous Driving Yet

According to a top tech investor, the news about Tesla‘s progress with its advanced driver-assistance feature in China isn’t as groundbreaking as some investors think.

Mark Hawtin, an investment director at GAM Investment Management, which focuses on disruptive growth and technology stocks, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Thursday that the hype surrounding Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) service is misleading because it doesn’t offer fully autonomous driving.

“Let’s be clear about what they’re doing — everyone’s talking about this full self-driving capability,” Hawtin said. “What they’re going to offer in China is what they already offer in the U.S. or U.K., which is more like assisted-driving capability.”

Tesla’s stock surged on Monday after reaching a significant milestone toward launching FSD in China. Local authorities removed restrictions on Tesla’s cars after meeting the country’s data security requirements.

Model 3

This sparked expectations that Tesla’s FSD would soon be available in China. Tesla’s shares rose by 6.7% in the last five trading days, largely due to the excitement about bringing FSD to China and comments from CEO Elon Musk about plans for more affordable models by early 2025.

However, Hawtin cautioned that Tesla’s FSD service isn’t yet an example of true self-driving technology.

“It’s by no means autonomous driving yet,” he emphasized, suggesting that a version of Tesla’s FSD capable of “true autonomy” is still five to 10 years away.

Hawtin also noted that Tesla’s reported deal with China’s Baidu benefits Baidu more in the short term than Tesla. He added that competition in China is fierce, with companies like BYD, Huawei, Xpeng, Li Auto, and Xiaomi all providing technology capable of Level 2 autonomy.

Tech Investor Warns Against Overrating Tesla's Full Self-Driving
Model Y

GAM doesn’t own Tesla shares, and Hawtin clarified that he doesn’t own shares either.

Tesla reportedly struck a deal with Baidu, which would allow Tesla to use Baidu’s mapping service license, a key requirement for offering FSD on Chinese roads, according to Reuters.

Tesla’s FSD is an upgrade to its Autopilot driver assistant, but Tesla doesn’t currently produce or sell cars capable of fully autonomous driving. It sells “Level 2” driver-assistance systems under the FSD brand.

“Level 3” assisted driving, or “conditional automation,” handles all driving aspects, but a driver must still be present, according to SAE standards.

Tesla has offered its FSD technology in China for years but with limited features like automated lane changing.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x