Mobileye N.V. (MBLY)  

​Tesla Aims to Silent Mobileye with New Upgrade

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Craig Adeyanju | FlashRatings | Friday, September 16, 2016 10:27 PM EDT
Mobileye (MBLY) said on Friday that it warned Tesla’s (TSLA) Elon Musk about letting its autopilot system be used for hands-free navigation of a car. This is the latest in a series of public row between the two companies. The latest claims by Mobileye didn’t spur analysts into an upgrade-downgrade action.

Mobileye has been a semi-autonomous technology supplier for Tesla’ Autopilot for three years. However, both parties cut ties in July, following the first reports of Autopilot fatality.

Tesla responded to Mobileye’s claim, saying that the automaker has been working on its own vision capability, aimed at improving the Autopilot technology, for some time. The split came when Mobileye tried to stop Tesla from developing its vision capability product, according to the automaker.

Earlier in the week September 12-16, Mobileye’s chairman, Amnon Shashua told Reuters that the Israeli automotive technology firm cut ties with Tesla because it was “pushing the envelope in terms of safety” with the Autopilot.

Shashua said the Autopilot is supposed to be just a driver assistance, as opposed to it being a driverless technology. However, a Tesla spokeswoman refuted Shashua’s accusation, saying that Tesla never touted Autopilot as an autonomous system.

With the new Autopilot update, set to be rolled out next Wednesday, Tesla is making some changes that emphasize more on the fact that Autopilot doesn’t mean autonomy. For instance, the new update will disengage the Autopilot system if the driver disregards three warnings within one hour to keep hands on the wheel.

Investors should note that another issue after this update could dent Tesla’s chances in the autonomous car revolution. Although, auto analysts believe that the upgrade will lift consumer confidence in Tesla and the Autopilot technology.

The only equity research firm to have issued a rating update on Tesla over the last 30 days is Baird Equity Research, who reiterated its outperform rating on Tesla stock on September 12.

“Although other manufacturers are introducing autopilot systems based on a suite of technologies (cameras, lidar, radar, etc.), we believe TSLA's radar-based system should provide improved functionality and increased safety since TSLA has solved the main challenges with radar, including object identification,” Ben Kallo of Baird wrote in a note.

In general, there are 17 analysts with a rating on Tesla, 23% of whom are positive about the stock. The median price target for Tesla stock is $223.