Tesla CEO Elon Musk has never been shy to back away from a challenge and expanding the potential product line for his companies certainly is not any limitation. For years, while solving the issues, problems, and challenges that came with building an electric vehicle, Tesla has emerged as the top of the food chain in that sector. However, there is no shying away from the fact that there are more projects to work on, and electric planes could be one of them.
For several years, Musk has talked about the possibility of building an electric plane at one of Tesla’s factories. However, the company has been so dialed in on volumizing its production of mass-market electric vehicles, that other projects have unfortunately been pushed to the wayside. Even still, while Tesla continues to advance the age of electrification with every passing day, that isn’t to say that other forms of sustainable transportation are not funneling through the brain of Musk.
Earlier this year in a note to investors, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote about Tesla’s ability to disrupt another sector within the next few years: aviation. “In our view, the chance that Tesla does not ultimately offer products and services to the eVTOL/UAM (Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing, and Urban Air Mobility) market is remote,” Jonas wrote. “The potential skills transferability and network adjacencies are too strong to ignore.”
“We’ll have Teslas on our roads, underground in tunnels…on Mars. But not in Earth’s skies? Well…we’re not convinced.”
Of course, anyone who has followed Musk and Tesla’s monumental climb into the Automotive Hall of Fame could not even begin to think about putting electric planes behind them. However, there is a difference between wants and needs, and Musk recognizes that. At the 2021 Shareholder Meeting held yesterday at the company’s Gigafactory Texas facility in Austin, Musk briefly discussed Tesla’s electric plane, and whether Tesla fans could see it eventually.
“We have a lot on our plate here. But electric planes, yes, I have been dying to do that for a decade, honestly,” Musk said. “But, we have quite a few fish to fry here. So, maybe one day the electric plane, battery energy density is improving every year. So, that’s an important metric to get the sell energy density to around 450, 500 watt-hours per kilogram and have a pack efficiency of around 400-watt hours per kilogram, that’s when electric planes start to get interesting.”
Sigh … there should be a new supersonic jet, this time electric
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 25, 2020
In comparison, Tesla EVs utilize about 254 watt-hours per kilogram, which means the output would essentially have to double for an electric plane to work or be effective.
Essentially, Musk did not count the Tesla electric plane out completely, but it does not appear that it will come anytime soon. “It would be a fun problem to work on at some point. But we have a lot to do over the next few years. So, we are going to focus on these things, get them right and maybe one day to do that.”