Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux”; expands Tesla to heavy-duty electric trucks and urban transport; integrated energy generation and storage
Master Plan Part 1—public now for ten years—outlined (1) the creation of an expensive low-volume electric car (Roadster) to fund (2) a medium-volume electric car (Model S, X) at a lower price to create (3) an affordable high volume car (Model 3) and (4) provide solar power. Master Plan v2.0 takes Tesla into integrated energy generation and storage (i.e., Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City, earlier post) as well as into heavy-duty electric vehicles and urban transport.
|“Starting a car company is idiotic and an electric car company is idiocy squared.”|
Energy generation and storage. Musk envision an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product that “just works,” empowering the individual as his or her own utility.
We can’t do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies. That they are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history. 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.—Elon Musk
Electrifying major forms of on-road transport. Currently, Musk noted, Tesla serves the two relatively small segments of premium sedans and SUVs. The Model 3, along with a future compact SUV and a pickup truck, will address most of the consumer market.
|“The first Model 3 factory machine should be thought of as version 0.5, with version 1.0 probably in 2018.”|
In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year. We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.—Elon Musk
(Wrightspeed, founded by Ian Wright, one of the original co-founders of Tesla, is also pursuing the electrified medium- and heavy-duty market, with the Route family of electric powertrains (Route for Class 3-6, Route HD for Class 7-8). Earlier post.)
With respect to urban mass transit, Musk suggests that the advent of autonomy will enable the shrinking of the size of the “bus”, along with the transition of the role of bus driver to that of fleet manager.
Traffic congestion would improve due to increased passenger areal density by eliminating the center aisle and putting seats where there are currently entryways, and matching acceleration and braking to other vehicles, thus avoiding the inertial impedance to smooth traffic flow of traditional heavy buses. It would also take people all the way to their destination. Fixed summon buttons at existing bus stops would serve those who don’t have a phone. Design accommodates wheelchairs, strollers and bikes.—Elon Musk
Autonomy. All Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, Musk said, emphasizing that “refinement and validation of the software will take much longer than putting in place the cameras, radar, sonar and computing hardware.”
Even once the software is highly refined and far better than the average human driver, there will still be a significant time gap, varying widely by jurisdiction, before true self-driving is approved by regulators. We expect that worldwide regulatory approval will require something on the order of 6 billion miles (10 billion km). Current fleet learning is happening at just over 3 million miles (5 million km) per day.—Elon Musk
|“It would be morally reprehensible to delay release [of partial autonomy] simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”|
Partial autonomy. Challenging the negative blowback from the Autopilot fatality earlier this year (earlier post), Musk defended the deployment of partial autonomy in the Model S now, proposing that, when used correctly, partial autonomy is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves.
According to the recently released 2015 NHTSA report, automotive fatalities increased by 8% to one death every 89 million miles. Autopilot miles will soon exceed twice that number and the system gets better every day. It would no more make sense to disable Tesla’s Autopilot, as some have called for [earlier post], than it would to disable autopilot in aircraft, after which our system is named.—Elon Musk
The elevator pitch version of master Plan v2.0 is thus:
- Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
- Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
- Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
- Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it [sharing]