Check Out Tesla’s New Master Plan: Electric Semis, Autonomous Buses, Solar and More

Written by on July 24, 2016 in Eco-Friendly, Environment with 4 Comments


By Derek Markham | Treehugger

What's next after you build the world's most sought after electric car? World domination, of course.

The media, and the general public, seem to have a love/hate relationship with Elon Musk and Tesla Motors. Either he's a genius and the company is going to change the world, or he's a rich guy with big dreams of luxury products for other wealthy people. Perhaps that's because it's easy to criticize a company with audacious goals yet with relatively few of its products actually on the street, but it's also hard not to cheer on the efforts of a forward-thinking company like Tesla, which aims to bring an integrated clean energy/energy storage/transportation solution to the masses, even if the economics don't quite work yet for the average person.

Ten years ago, Musk wrote about the “secret master plan” for Tesla, which began with building a low-volume expensive electric car, then using the profits from that to develop a medium-volume EV at a lower price, using the money from that car to create “an affordable, high volume car,” and to then “provide zero emission electric power generation options” (solar). And now that Tesla seems to making serious progress on this master plan (although we have yet to see the affordable high volume EV go into production), including the potential acquisition of SolarCity, Musk has just released his latest iteration of his master plan on the company blog in an article titled Master Plan, Part Deux.

Related Article: Reading the Tesla Tea Leaves: Will the Auto Innovator Unveil 2 New Electric Cars This Spring?

In a nutshell, Tesla's plan for world domination looks like this:

  • 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

An ambitious bulleted list is easy to come up with, but as they say, the devil is in the details, and that's where the rubber meets the road for Tesla's next phase.

With the SolarCity renewable energy pipeline potentially becoming part of Tesla (and with SolarCity building its own solar module ‘gigafactory' in Buffalo, NY), and the Tesla Gigafactory getting set to mass produce residential battery storage units (Powerwalls), when it all comes together, homeowners and businesses may have a one-stop-shop for their renewable electricity needs. And considering how quickly prices have been dropping for both solar arrays and for home battery storage solutions, moving toward renewable energy at home or work may soon be more of a cost-saving decision than a climate- and environment-saving decision.

Create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app.

Related Article: 100% Clean Energy Economy Is Much Closer Than You Think

Tesla's first vehicle, the Roadster, was truly a rich man's toy, and as such was subject to a lot of skepticism and derision, but the company's product evolution is moving toward a more affordable vehicle, in part through the technology developed via production of the Model S and Model X, and on to the very desirable Model III with its potential $35,000 price tag. But to truly change the clean transport paradigm, Tesla is looking to a few additional options, such as a pickup truck, an electric big rig or semi (which is said to be under development), and a “high passenger-density urban transport” solution (perhaps in the form of autonomous electric buses).

With the advent of autonomy, it will probably make sense to shrink the size of buses and transition 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.

Autonomous technology for cars, trucks, buses, and taxis may hold one of the keys to the clean transport revolution, and while much has been made of a few recent Tesla Autopilot accidents (which may have more to do with the drivers' lack of attention than the software), it's clear that many tech and car companies are on the autonomous vehicle bandwagon, and with good reason. Autonomous driving tech could enable greater flexibility for transit operators, from buses to taxis to ‘carsharing' companies, as well as cutting costs and optimizing energy demands through efficient route selections and other avenues.


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  1. I learned to Give not because I have many, but because I know exactly how it feels to have Nothing.

  2. Tet Gallardo Tet Gallardo says:

    Eshan Esu, I just saw Tesla office in Netherlands.

  3.' Micheal Insalaco says:

    I should add a note here to explain why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until some point in the future. The most important reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.

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