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Tesloop Brings "Autopilot" to Car Rental

Founded in July 2015 by then-16-year-old Haydn Sonnad, Culver City-based Tesloop, licensed by the California Public Utilities Commission, offers shared rides between cities in Tesla’s all-electric, semi-autonomous vehicles. Although Tesloop is not officially affiliated with Tesla, Sonnad said his group has a "positive relationship" with the automaker.

Since Teslas require charging, Tesloop operates based on fixed routes between cities, with pick up and drop off destinations near charging stations. Currently, routes include Los Angeles and Palm Springs, LA and San Diego, and Palm Springs and Las Vegas.

With one-way plane tickets between LA and Las Vegas averaging about $90, and Greyhound buses offering limited space, Tesloop is appealing to anyone who is looking for a sustainable, affordable transportation option, Sonnad said.

Starting at $29 a seat, travelers can be shuttled between set locations by Tesloop drivers, called “Pilots.” All Teslas are stocked with drinks and snacks, and riders can take advantage of free Wi-Fi, phone charging, heated seats, music, and neck pillows.

However, the main attraction is Tesla’s autopilot feature, which Pilots activate as soon as they’re on the highway. The feature, which is activated for the majority of the trip, helps create a stress-free and safer journey.

Sonnad estimates Tesloop — which consists of a fleet of nine Model Xs, two Model 3s, and one Model S —has given rides to about 25,000 passengers so far.

No Pilot Necessary

Earlier this year, Tesloop began offering the option to rent an all-electric Tesla Model 3 or Model X for its LA and San Diego, and LA and Palm Springs routes. Dubbed “Cruiser,” the new service offers one-way Model X rentals for $79 or a Model 3 for $49.

With the Cruiser option, customers can bring along family and friends for the trip at no extra cost.

Since there’s no Tesloop Pilot controlling the vehicle, new Cruiser renters are required to undergo a pre-trip orientation, which includes an explanation of the vehicle’s features and how to operate it.

When choosing Cruiser, travelers have a set time limit to drive between cities, usually about four hours. However, customers who go past the time limit due to factors such as traffic aren’t penalized.