Elon Musk plans to steer Tesla towards fully autonomous driving, car sharing, and cargo transport, according to the long awaited blog post on the company’s website. A fully solar power ecosystem driven in-part by SolarCity will help Musk and Co. get there.
Musk has been teasing the master plan part II for days. What would be in it? Would Tesla cars fly? Would they go to space? What does Lana Del Rey have to do with it? Why is Elon Musk talking about crack on Twitter?
After a near infinite number of browser refreshes, we now know.
Tesla is doubling down on not just autopilot but full autonomy. To get there, Musk expects a total of 6 billion miles of test-driving will be needed. Right now, fleet learning is happening at 3 million miles per day.
Tesla is also prioritizing development of heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. These products will be unveiled over the next year. The Tesla Semi specifically will support cargo and transportation services. The driver role is expected to transition to one of a fleet manager. A Tesla ecosystem of smaller connected utility vehicles including busses would be able to provide convenience, increase road safety and reduce traffic congestion. Such a system benefits everyone, not just the technocratic elite. Additional capacity, door-to-door service, and non-cellular methods to interact with the system would benefit groups yet to be touched by traditional ride-sharing.
The company is taking a page from Uber and Lyft and raising them with artificial intelligence. Tesla sees itself taking on qualities of a transportation company but rather than a human driver, Tesla will come to you autonomously. To supplement an early lack of supply in vehicles, the company will operate a fleet of its own.
“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, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost,” said Musk in his post. “This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.”
Pushing to bring down costs for the average consumer appears central to the new plan. Like Ford before him, Musk is prioritizing manufacturing optimization to bring costs down in the upcoming Model 3 and forthcoming vehicles.
In line with Tesla’s updated goals, the company quietly changed its URL earlier this week from Teslamotors.com to just Tesla.com. Tesla is no-longer simply a car company.
Even before the URL change, Musk had been hinting at this shift. In the first part of the master plan released in 2006, Musk described that his draw to the company was a desire “to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.”
Musk deliberately said solar, not wind or hydroelectric, but solar.
Even on this alone, a Tesla acquisition of SolarCity could have been predicted. Musk expanded on his ideas to include a roadmap that has guided the company for a decade.
√ 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
Tesla has done a pretty good job at first targeting customers “prepared to pay a premium,” and then “driving down the market.” The new plan picks up where the old one left off and provides guidance on how electric power can move beyond the car and into the home.
Tesla has already started moving into uncharted territory with regards to its development of Powerpack and Powerwall and the upcoming opening of the Gigafactory. Batteries were a small part of Musk’s plan but have grown to be a major focal point of the business. The new plan is to coalesce all of energy generation and storage around a single ordering and installation process. This means Tesla batteries are entering a long term intimate relationship with SolarCity solar panels.
The new plan, focuses on the solar ecosystem as a whole. Lot of new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology has rolled into place over the last decade and Tesla wants to take advantage of that as well.
The new simplified plan looks like this:
Ο Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
Ο Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
Ο Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
Ο Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it
Tesla investors have been patient so far, but that was called into question amidst Tesla’s plans to acquire SolarCity. The company’s stock is worth 13 times its IPO value, but lately has been categorized as a risky investment by analysts. Dreaming big is easier as a startup. The larger a company grows, the harder it becomes to steer the rudder. I’m not one to doubt Musk, and given how accurately he forecasted and accomplished his last plan, others would be wise not to either.