Elon Musk and Tesla are at it again. A decade after he announced his first master plan, to create a low volume electric car and provide, Musk has just announced his second master plan.
Here is what his Master Plan, Part Deux entails:
Solar roofs with integrated battery storage
Electric vehicle product line addressing all top segments
Self-driving capability 10 times safer than manual
Enable cars to make earn for owners when they aren’t using it
Now, that is ambitious. And given than the man who create PayPal has pretty achieved whatever he set out to with Plan 1, this seems another box he should be able to tick.
Musk’s plan for a “solar-roof-with-battery product that just works” will have huge implications in countries like India, provided he is able to offer an affordable price point. He wants to make it really simple with Tesla managing everything from the ordering experience to installation, service and the phone app.
For this, he announced that Tesla and SolarCity, a company he acquired a while back, will be brought together. “Now that Tesla is ready to scale Powerwall and SolarCity is ready to provide highly differentiated solar, the time has come to bring them together.”
Musk also announced Tesla’s intention to offer products in the smaller premium sedans and SUV segments with the Model 3, a future compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck. He also wants to make a product of his products are made with the machines that make the machine plotting a five to 10 fold improvement by 2022 or version 3 of his production line. Musk suggests he announce heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport by next year.
However, there are clearly no plans for more affordable consumer vehicles. “A lower cost vehicle than the Model 3 is unlikely to be necessary,” he says, pointing to his ambitious plans for autonomous vehicles — “all Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely”.
However, he adds that getting the software right will take “much longer than putting in place the cameras, radar, sonar and computing hardware”. Even after that he anticipates delayed before regulatory approval is acquired.
Tesla will remove its beta label once they “get to the point where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average”.
Musk talks of an autonomous world where users will be able to summon their Tesla from anywhere and be able to sleep, read or do anything else, other than drive, enroute to your destination. But the more ambitious plan is the ability to offer these self-driving cars to the “Tesla shared fleet” so that it can make you money while you are in office or even on holiday. And this, as it lowers the cost of ownership for the car, is why Musk thinks affordable cars won’t be necessary.
As almost all cars are used only for about 10 per cent of the day, Musk believes the “fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not”. There is at least one other company in the Valley that will be happy to hear this. Uber has been talking the same language for many years now, and has its own autonomous car as well as related 3D map projects. We surely are driving into a brave new world.