- Mike Nudelman/Business Insider
Tesla published an update to its “master plan” on Wednesday.
Here it is:
Create solar roofs with integrated battery storage. Expand the existing Tesla lineup to include “all major segments” of the market. Self-driving technology that is “ten times safer” than manual driving. Car sharing, with which Tesla owners can earn money by essentially lending out their vehicles.
As noted earlier, the plan encompasses Musk’s vision of accelerating humanity’s exit from the fossil-fuel era, which involves Tesla and SolarCity.
In creating its new solar solution, Musk calls for a “solar-roof-with-battery product” that allows users to generate their own power. The service would be managed by a mobile app, the plan says. Musk adds that folding SolarCity’s operations into Tesla’s was necessary to make that happen.
- Spencer Platt/Getty Images
As part of the plan to grow Tesla’s vehicle lineup, you can expect a new heavy-duty truck and what appears to be an all-electric solution for public transportation.
“Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year,” Musk writes.
As noted at about the same time that the Model 3 was introduced, a smaller SUV is also on the way, which will share the same platform as the Model 3.
- REUTERS/Alexandria Sage/File Photo
Improved self-driving technology
Tesla is digging its heels in on autonomous driving, aiming for its technology to be as much as 10 times as safe as human driving. This is a bold move for the company after having been embroiled in controversy over the first fatality in one of its cars using its Autopilot feature earlier this year.
The new plan calls for vehicles that are “fully self-driving with fail-operational capability.” Musk adds numerous caveats here, including clarification on the meaning of “beta,” the stage of Autopilot’s development.
“This is not beta software in any normal sense of the word. Every release goes through extensive internal validation before it reaches any customers. It is called beta in order to decrease complacency and indicate that it will continue to improve.”
- Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
When you’re not using your self-driving car, you could add it to the “Tesla shared fleet,” Musk says. That way, you could use it to generate income while you’re at work or on vacation.
“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.”
As Jillian D’Onfro, Business Insider’s senior tech reporter, writes, this part of the plan may be too close for comfort for Uber.
- Larry Busacca/Getty Images for The New York Times
The new plan is a revision of the original, first published by Tesla in 2006. At the time, before the Model S and the Model X were roaming the streets on Autopilot, Tesla set out to build a high-end car and a couple of affordable cars and generate clean, emission-free electric power.
Edmunds.com director of industry analysis Jessica Caldwell tells Business Insider: “If part one of Elon Musk’s master plan was like putting a man on the moon, part two is a lot more like colonizing the galaxy.”
Tesla has enjoyed several victories in recent years. The Model S has racked up multiple awards and was the best-selling large luxury sedan in 2015. The mass-market Model 3 sedan debuted in March, raking in more than 325,000 orders in a matter of days.
The company’s high-flying success hasn’t been without drama, though.
During the first half of this year, Musk had been fighting battles on multiple fronts – trouble meeting production goals, fallout from the first fatality involving a self-driving Model S in May, pointed questions about the reliability of the Autopilot technology, and suggestions that Tesla withheld key information from investors – to which Musk promptly called “BS.”
But, with much of the original “top secret” plan already in play, Musk clearly sees this as an opportunity to recalibrate.