Elon Musk unveils ‘part deux’ of the Tesla master plan

Disruptive manufacturer Tesla has unveiled a new four-step "master plan" that will see the company branch out from the development of electric vehicles (EV) in order to become an organisation that delivers a "sustainable energy economy".

The four-step plan will see Tesla build on the success of its EV portfolio by extending the electrification process to heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport by next year.

New Tesla models will also come equipped with autonomous features that allows owners to generate income at work while their vehicle transports others around the city. In line with the recent SolarCity purchase, Tesla will also aim to create “stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage”.

“We must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilisation will collapse,” Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk said.

“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.”

Musk announced his original “master plan” 10 years ago, with the aim bringing affordable EVs to the mass-market. While the latest Model 3 vehicle has a starting price of £24,423, the fact that pre-orders have hit the 400,000 threshold suggests that this vision is fast becoming a reality.

Part deux

With this in mind, Musk has unveiled “part deux” of Tesla’s master plan that shifts the company mantra beyond car production and towards the sustainable energy sphere. The “stunning” solar roofs that the company wants to introduce would allow individuals to become “their own utility” that can be controlled via a phone app. Musk noted that this element would be impossible without the acquisition of SolarCity.

Tesla has already announced that its Powerpack and Powerwall battery products had taken 100,000 in reservations, worth approximately $1bn. Combining this with SolarCity’s services could eventually create entire communities of energy storage homes – much like what is being developed in the “Tesla Town” suburb in Australia.

Musk also revealed that Tesla has focused on scaling-up infrastructure to the point where the factory itself has become a Tesla product. Much has been made about Tesla’s Gigafactory, which opens next Friday, but Musk revealed that Tesla’s new manufacturing process would “focus heavily on designing the machine that makes the machine”.

With Tesla expecting to announce the new truck and urban passenger vehicles at some point next year, the company is committed to accelerating the global scale-up of autonomous vehicles.

A host of major car manufacturers have revealed autonomous blueprints for future vehicles, but few seem to have viewed this new market in as much detail as Musk.

As well as adding fail-operational capabilities, Musk revealed that once self-driving had been approved by regulators, Tesla owners would be able to summon vehicles from “pretty much anywhere”.  This includes adding a vehicle to Tesla’s shared fleet, essentially allowing individuals to generate income via the phone app while their car acts as a taxi for paying customers.

Tesla has stated that for cities where demand exceeds supply, the company will be operating its own fleet in order to promote the sharing economy, and play to the strengths that most vehicles are only used for 5% to 10% of the day.

Earlier this year, Musk accused politicians of bowing to the “unrelenting and enormous” lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry, warning that a global “revolt” may be needed to accelerate the transition to more sustainable energy and transport systems.

Matt Mace

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