Tesla’s new master plan includes electric semis, autonomous buses, solar + storage
What’s next after you build the world’s most sought after electric car? World domination, of course.
The media, and the general public, seem to have a love/hate relationship with Elon Musk and Tesla Motors. Either he’s a genius and the company is going to change the world, or he’s a rich guy with big dreams of luxury products for other wealthy people. Perhaps that’s because it’s easy to criticize a company with audacious goals yet with relatively few of its products actually on the street, but it’s also hard not to cheer on the efforts of a forward-thinking company like Tesla, which aims to bring an integrated clean energy/energy storage/transportation solution to the masses, even if the economics don’t quite work yet for the average person.
Ten years ago, Musk wrote about the “secret master plan” for Tesla, which began with building a low-volume expensive electric car, then using the profits from that to develop a medium-volume EV at a lower price, using the money from that car to create “an affordable, high volume car,” and to then “provide zero emission electric power generation options” (solar). And now that Tesla seems to making serious progress on this master plan (although we have yet to see the affordable high volume EV go into production), including the potential acquisition of SolarCity, Musk has just released his latest iteration of his master plan on the company blog in an article titled Master Plan, Part Deux.
In a nutshell, Tesla’s plan for world domination looks like this:
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
An ambitious bulleted list is easy to come up with, but as they say, the devil is in the details, and that’s where the rubber meets the road for Tesla’s next phase.
With the SolarCity renewable energy pipeline potentially becoming part of Tesla (and with SolarCity building its own solar module ‘gigafactory’ in Buffalo, NY), and the Tesla Gigafactory getting set to mass produce residential battery storage units (Powerwalls), when it all comes together, homeowners and businesses may have a one-stop-shop for their renewable electricity needs. And considering how quickly prices have been dropping for both solar arrays and for home battery storage solutions, moving toward renewable energy at home or work may soon be more of a cost-saving decision than a climate- and environment-saving decision.
Create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app.
Tesla’s first vehicle, the Roadster, was truly a rich man’s toy, and as such was subject to a lot of skepticism and derision, but the company’s product evolution is moving toward a more affordable vehicle, in part through the technology developed via production of the Model S and Model X, and on to the very desirable Model III with its potential $35,000 price tag. But to truly change the clean transport paradigm, Tesla is looking to a few additional options, such as a pickup truck, an electric big rig or semi (which is said to be under development), and a “high passenger-density urban transport” solution (perhaps in the form of autonomous electric buses).