It took a littler longer than promised, but the Tesla Master Plan Part 2 has finally been revealed. Here is the short version:
- 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 first objective is no surprise. Last month, Tesla submitted an offer to buy SolarCity for $2.8 billion in Tesla stock. This week, the url teslamotors.com began redirecting to tesla.com as part of the company’s branding strategy to be less of a motor company and become more of a brand and energy company. Here’s how Musk explains it.
“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.
The second part of the plan includes Tesla heavy duty trucks and new forms of urban transportation with high passenger density. “We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.
“With the advent of autonomy, it will probably make sense to shrink the size of buses and transition the role of bus driver to that of fleet manager. [The bus] would also take people all the way to their destination. Fixed summon buttons at existing bus stops would serve those who don’t have a phone. Design accommodates wheelchairs, strollers and bikes.”
Objective 3 is all about reducing the annual carnage on the highways. “We expect that worldwide regulatory approval will require something on the order of 6 billion miles (10 billion km). Current fleet learning is happening at just over 3 million miles (5 million km) per day.”
Musk takes some care to explain why the current version of Autopilot is called beta. “It is called beta in order to decrease complacency and indicate that it will continue to improve (Autopilot is always off by default). Once we get to the point where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average, the beta label will be removed.”
Despite calls to disable Autopilot by Consumer Reports and others, Musk makes it clear he will stay the course. Here’s why: “I should add a note here to explain why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until some point in the future. The most important reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible (emphasis added) to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”
Finally, Musk says car owners typically use their cars less than 10% of the time. Once fully autonomous driving is perfected, they will be able to share their car with others, generating income that can partially offset the costs of ownership. “In cities where demand exceeds the supply of customer-owned cars, Tesla will operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are.”
There it is in a nutshell. A bold new plan to take the original not-so-secret plan and extend upon it. Musk restates and reinforces the underlying purpose for everything the company does. “The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good. That’s what “sustainable” means. It’s not some silly, hippy thing — it matters for everyone.
“By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.”
See Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux in its entirety.