Elon Musk just got a much-needed win.

The iconic entrepreneur's Boring Company has been selected to build high-speed electric vehicles to transport people between downtown  Chicago and O'Hare International Airport, the city's mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, announced Wednesday, according to The New York Times.

The plan sounds like something from a sci-fi novel: The vehicle would transport up to 16 passengers through underground tunnels at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. That would make the duration of the trip to O'Hare about 12 minutes, a fraction of the time it takes on a Chicago Transit Authority train or by car. The vehicles, called "skates," could leave downtown as frequently as every 30 seconds.

City officials hope that construction can begin within a year, and that the project could be completed in three years. Emanuel's administration still needs to negotiate the terms of the contract and get approval from the city council. Early estimates put the cost of the project at $1 billion, but it would not require any public funding.

The selection is a rare public relations victory for Musk, who has lately come under fire for his leadership of Tesla. The company has been rapidly burning through cash, and its Model 3 sedan has been plagued by delays and missed production goals. Musk's bizarre performance on a quarterly earnings call, as well as recent controversial tweets about the media, have alarmed investors. On Monday, he announced that Tesla would be laying off 9 percent of its staff in an effort to restructure the organization and reduce costs.

The Boring Company is already working on a test tunnel project in Hawthorne, California, and has applied to build another tunnel in Los Angeles. Musk is also proposing a new tunnel between Washington and Baltimore.

Published on: Jun 14, 2018