Back in 2006, Tesla Motors was just getting started and co-founder and CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company’s master plan to anyone paying attention. Intended to map out a vision for sustainable transport and energy usage, it made the case for starting small and expensive with the Roadster in order to — somehow, possibly, eventually — end up producing the Model 3 for a larger market.
In 2016, that vision seems amazingly prescient, and the time has come for the next phase of Tesla’a master plan, dubbed “Part Deux” by Musk and posted on the company’s website July 20. With Model 3 in development and controversy about the company’s Autopilot swirling, it seems as good a time as any to look at the long-term plans for the innovative company, and there are several exciting prospects on the horizon.
Here are the five takeaways for all parties interested in Tesla and the future of sustainable transportation.
1. Part I is remarkably close to completion
Musk kicked off the post about Part II with a review of his original goals. Anyone familiar with the company can see how well they’ve worked out over the past 10 years. They were:
- Create an expensive, low-volume car to get the money for:
- A less-expensive, higher-volume car that would fund:
- An affordable, higher-volume car
- Plus, get involved in solar power production
From the Roadster to Model S and X to the development of Model 3 and the effort to merge Solar City with Tesla, the company has ticked off all the boxes. Naturally, there have been hiccups, scares, malfunctions, and other bits of turmoil, but the company’s founders can take a deep breath in 2016 and say they’ve just about accomplished everything.
Getting a Tesla-branded system of solar power is one of the keys to the future for Musk, so closing that Solar City deal is crucial. As far as storing the energy, Powerwall is the answer already on the market.
2. An electric pickup truck is coming
Just glance at the list of best-selling vehicles in any given month or year and you will find three pickup trucks charting in the top five. In other words, millions of trucks are barreling down the road getting less than 15 miles per gallon all across the country on any given day. If you want to get serious about cutting carbon emissions, you have to address this part of the equation.
Musk says (in a bit of Conehead terminology) that Tesla intends to address all “major forms of terrestrial transport,” so pickups are on the menu for the company’s second act as well. No timetable is given, but we would guess it would arrive after the full roll-out of Model 3 in all its variations, which includes a crossover, the other hottest-selling segment in America.
3. Commercial trucks and buses, too
Speaking of making a dent in emissions, commercial hauling and urban mass transit systems are another obvious target. Musk says an electric semi is already on the drawing board at Tesla and could eventually reduce the cost of transporting goods by highway while improving safety and “making it really fun to operate.” The competition in this area is clear: Nikola’s electric semi already has a stunning amount of pre-orders.
As for mass transit, Musk envisioned a world in which Tesla buses were autonomously piloted with the “the role of bus driver [transitioned] to that of fleet manager.” These vehicles would use others on the road to limit resistance from wind when accelerating and braking plus bring customers all the way to their destinations.
4. Full mastery of autonomous driving
There are obvious drawbacks to semi-autonomous driving, the biggest of which would be the shift drivers must make from not controlling the car to suddenly taking charge. Though pointing out Autopilot is about twice as safe as normal driving, Musk said the benchmark is about 10 times safer than operation by humans. Once there, regulators will approve the systems and drivers can literally be asleep at the wheel.
He also took a moment to address the current Autopilot controversy. Rather than considering it immoral to put Autopilot in play, Musk wrote “it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and would be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”
5. Tesla car-sharing
One Ford Smart Mobility experiment from 2015 involved Blue Oval owners renting out their vehicles when they were not using them. Musk said such a car-sharing system is part of Tesla’s future as well. He wrote, “You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation.”
If there weren’t enough cars available for the demand in a given city, Musk said Tesla would operate its own fleet. We expect the automaker will be one of many by the time it arrives, and drivers may be unnecessary by then.
Source: Tesla Motors Blog