Tesla CEO Elon Musk has unveiled the new and updated version of the Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan in a post on the company’s website. The plan outlines Musk’s vision for a combined Tesla and SolarCity, which Tesla offered to acquire last month. Musk expects that deal to receive investor support.
Tesla plans to focus on selling integrated energy generation and storage, an expansion into other forms of ground transportation like trucks and buses, as well as autonomous driving technology. Finally, Tesla is looking to allow owners of its cars to share their vehicles with others in order to have the car make money when it isn’t in use.
First, Tesla is looking to build an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product. It’s part of the reason for the acquisition of SolarCity, and the two companies, according to Musk’s vision, will be able to combine forces to build a single product. It’ll combine batteries built at the Tesla Gigafactory with SolarCity’s solar know-how.
Then, Tesla plans to expand beyond the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. Musk says there are plans for a future compact SUV and a “new kind of pickup truck.” Then, for more industrial applications, he envisions heavy-duty electric trucks and solutions for “high passenger-density urban transport — in other words, buses. Electric buses already exist today, so it’s easy to see how that will work. Finally, Musk envisions the “Tesla Semi” which, he says, will delivery a “substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport.”
Tesla’s autonomous driving plans are well-known, as is its (beta) Autopilot system. The company plans to continue developing its hardware and software, and Musk says the beta label will be removed when Autopilot is “approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average.”
Finally, Tesla plans to embrace vehicle sharing. “When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere,” Musk writes. Also, Tesla owners will be able to add their car to a “Tesla shared fleet” — likely an on-demand ride-hailing service that will allow the vehicle to give (autonomous) rides to the general public while the owner is at work or on vacation. Musk’s vision is that if this system is used enough, the vehicle could potentially pay for itself.
In short, the “Master Plan, Part Deux” is:
Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it
The last “Secret Tesla Master Plan” was released back in 2006. It discussed how, according to Musk, power plant emissions are cleaner than vehicle emissions and how becoming “energy positive” with personal transportation — via solar panels from SolarCity, naturally — was possible. Here’s how Musk laid out his plan back then:
So, in short, the master plan is:
Build sports car
Use that money to build an affordable car
Use that money to build an even more affordable car
While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options
Don’t tell anyone.
The Tesla Model 3, introduced earlier this year, was meant to be the “even more affordable car” And now, with Tesla buying SolarCity, it all comes together. Makes me wonder if maybe that was the plan all along?
Of course, before it can execute on the Master Plan, Part Deux, Tesla needs to finish executing the first Master Plan. Building that “even more affordable car” is not something the company has shown it can do yet. Building the Model 3 in volume will be a very real challenge and Musk is already looking past that to a whole host of other vehicles and products.
To be fair to Musk and Tesla, aside from being unable to stick to its timetable, the company has nevertheless achieved the goals laid out in the original plan. We’ll see if he can do it again.