Tesla Master Plan part 2: solar, sharing, trucks, buses and better autonomy

Tesla Elon MuskTesla will launch a truck, a bus, a “beautiful” solar roof battery storage product, autonomous vehicles that are 10 times safer than normal cars and an app that will let you share your Tesla with others (and get paid for it).

The plans are detailed in Tesla founder Elon Musk’s second ‘master plan’, which he rolled out overnight to focus the company’s next decade.

It’s part of his ambition to accelerate the viability of sustainable energy “so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good.

“It’s not some silly, hippy thing – it matters for everyone.” Because if we don’t achieve a sustainable energy economy, “we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilisation will collapse.”

Musk therefore has four far-reaching goals over and above the volume development of Tesla’s passenger cars (the mainstream Model 3 is still due in 2018).

On sustainability, Musk wants to develop a solar roof product that’s linked in with a battery storage system that will turn everyone into their own utility company. It will be simple to order, simple to install, have a simple utility contract and be linked to a simple smartphone app: a fully integrated energy generation and storage solution.

That is why, says Musk, Tesla has been joined up to one of his other companies, SolarCity.

But Musk also has big plans for Tesla motors.

More Tesla models

Tesla wants to make more vehicles. Musk reckons he has the passenger car segment covered – “a lower cost vehicle than the Model 3 is unlikely to be necessary” – and will broaden the lower end of the range with a better, smarter Tesla bus.

A Tesla bus would be smaller, smarter, comfier and autonomous: it would match acceleration and braking to other vehicles. It would take wheelchairs, strollers and bikes. There would be no centre aisle. It would take people all the way to their destination.

A big Tesla semi-trailer truck, promises Musk, would be cheaper to use, safer and “really fun to operate”. Both will be unveiled in 2017 (they’re under development now, confirmed Musk).

Autonomy

The controversial Tesla Autopilot function is being deployed now despite some arguing it’s not ready and thus not safe. Musk says Tesla is doing it now because “when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves.”

Boldly, he claims it would be “morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”

At the moment, Tesla Autopilot is officially in the beta stage. As part of Musk’s master plan, that beta tag will one day be removed – that will be when it is “approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average”.

So there you go: Tesla wants to make cars 10 times safer than normal cars, and fully roll them out in the next 10 years.

Sharing

Musk wants to “enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it”. This will be dependent on true self-driving being approved by regulators: then, Tesla will let you add your car to a Tesla shared fleet via the smartphone app and have it make money for you.

“Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.”

What’s more, Tesla will also take on cab operators and Uber: where there’s lots of demand for self-driving taxis, “Tesla will operate its own fleet enduring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are”.

Musk revealed his new master plan as part of a fascinating blog post on the company’s website (which is now under tesla.com rather than teslamotors.com…). The scope and ambition of it is enormous. Read it in full and let us know what else you think Musk may be planning to do…

Tesla Master Plan part 1

Musk reminded us of his first master plan, devised a decade ago. He said it “wasn’t all that complicated” and consisted of:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car
  4. Provide solar power

The last point he stressed: “no kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years”.

Explaining the first master plan, he said he started off with point 1 because “it was all I could afford to do with what I made from Paypal”. He admitted he thought the chances of success were low, hence starting with his cash rather than someone else’s.

“Starting a car company is idiotic and an electric car company is idiocy squared.”

Managing Director at @editorial_mr. Runs a bit. Loves the motor industry. https://about.me/richardaucock

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