Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told a Chinese audience the carmaker is on the verge of developing fully self-driving cars, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: It's a claim he's made many times before, but has yet to deliver, so take it with a grain of salt.

  • Tesla just raised the price of its "full self-driving package" to $8,000, even though the feature is not yet activated on its cars.
  • That means customers are paying for the hardware, while the software is still in development.
  • For now, Tesla's Autopilot system still requires the driver to be fully attentive and ready to take over at any moment.

What he's saying: In a video message played Thursday during the World AI Conference in Shanghai, Musk said Tesla is "very close" to level 5 autonomy, meaning its cars won’t require any human intervention.

  • "I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year," Musk said.
  • "I think there are no fundamental challenges remaining for level 5 autonomy."
  • "There are many small problems, and then there's the challenge of solving all those small problems and then putting the whole system together, and just keep addressing the long tail of problems."

Our thought bubble: In other words, Tesla is not on the cusp of level 5 autonomy.

What to watch: There could be a court ruling next week in a lawsuit brought by German officials over allegations that the name of Tesla's Autopilot system amounts to false advertising.

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