So many of us were inspired by “Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (Just Between You and Me)” (2006) – the idea of being “energy positive” created excitement for the future. “Master Plan, Part Deux” (2016) evoked middle class hope to “accelerate the adoption of sustainable energy”.
But since 2016 — and 2006, for that matter — a lot has changed. Is it time for a new master plan that speaks to the pressures and realities of the climate crisis and Musk’s ability to lead the charge?
This week Hyperdrive Bloomberg reviewed Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s two major plans, calling them “cute and hugely effective in enhancing Musk’s reputation as a visionary.” The article was also quite critical of Musk’s failure to achieve many of the initially planned accomplishments, while suggesting that cautious optimism was warranted for Tesla’s future plans.
Musk tweeted a few months ago that he was working on a new master plan. What will his updated treatise say?
Master plan work, part 3
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2022
How successful were the two master plans in achieving their goals? What updates should Tesla’s Master Plan* contain to reflect our current era of technological promise, market competition and climate emergency?
Basic Truths in the 2006 Master Plan
The original master plan woke us up to the importance of reducing global carbon emissions. We would have to change our concept of what it meant to think about personal transportation – but most of us would join one day, not immediately, as Musk outlined that only the elite would be driving Tesla in the short term. .
We learned that Tesla had a long-range plan that began with an appeal to the high-end automotive market, where customers were willing to pay a premium for a sporty all-electric vehicle. Musk explained that each new technology initially has a high unit cost before it can be optimized, but with each successive model, he would push the market as quickly as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices.
The Tesla Roadster was a specialized sports car that cost over $100,000. About 2,450 units of the vehicle were sold within 5 years. The realization of a sporty 4-door family car at about half the price of the Tesla Roadster came in 2012 with the Tesla Model S. It sold for $57,400, at a time when the average price of a new car or light truck was just over $30,000.
So basically the plan is to build a sports car and use that money to build a somewhat more affordable electric car and use that money to build an even more affordable car. The complementary concept of creating zero-emission electricity generation options took a little longer to arrive on the scene with much less fanfare—the Powerpack, Powerwall, and SolarCity.
Did ‘Master Plan, Part Deux’ come true?
Tesla appeared poised to integrate energy generation and storage in 2016. The $2.86 billion acquisition of SolarCity seemed like a lifeline to many investors (Musk’s cousins were founders as well as CEO and CTO, while Musk was the company’s chairman), but Musk was convinced that Tesla needed to scale Powerwall and that buying SolarCity would break down the barriers inherent in stand-alone companies. Since then, SolarCity’s promise has been marred by problems from manufacturing to installation. It still installs many solar roofs, but not as many as it once did, or as many as were planned to be installed now.
Musk outlined that “with the Model 3, the future compact SUV and a new type of pickup truck, we plan to address the majority of the consumer market.
The mass introduction to Tesla came with the 2019 Model 3. It arrived at a price somewhere above the $35,000 promise, worked its way up to that goal, but then went up again. The SUV or crossover version, the Model Y, became a huge success, accounting for 1 in 3 new EVs registered in the US in Q1 2022.
The promised Tesla Semi trucks, Cybertrucks and buses have not arrived on the vehicle scene. Heavy trucks and high-density urban transportation were not prioritized as much as increased production and sales of the Model 3 and Model Y.
However, the decision to become a manufacturer “designing a machine that makes a machine” has become a reality. Tour of Giga Texas reveals robotic advances at Tesla’s manufacturing facilities.
The idea of full autonomy with self-driving to reduce car fatalities was a noble one. The extensive internal validation beta program needed to meet the level where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the average US vehicle was not achieved.
Summoning a Tesla “from almost anywhere” or having it “generate income while you’re at work or on vacation” isn’t yet visible to vehicle owners. Musk and team will need to create a network if Tesla is to compete with Uber or Lyft, but there is no test network that at least allows human drivers to drive for a fee.
So the goals of creating solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage, expanding the Tesla EV product line to address all major segments, developing a viable self-driving capability, and allowing Tesla to make money for its owners were only partially accomplished.
Reflections on Mẹ’s Master Plan
I can’t wait to hear it #TSLA‘s master plan 3. Optionality, verticality and exponentials @elonmusk & the team can take the company is really mind boggling at this point. All for the greater good of humanity. Why wouldn’t someone make a once in a lifetime investment in this!? 🤷
— Doctor Jack (@DoctorJack16) March 20, 2022
It’s time for you, dear CleanTechnica readers to create your Tesla wish list. What efforts would you like Tesla to take with a 5 or 10 year market implementation goal?
The Ford F-150 Lightning won hearts and minds, not with its message of reducing emissions and tackling climate change, but with a whole host of capabilities that internal combustion vehicles simply don’t offer. Should the Tesla Cybertruck be at the top of Tesla’s to-do list? With its futuristic styling, is the Cybertruck an equal competitor to the Lightning, or would you rather see a Tesla pickup with more mainstream styling?
Musk stated that “a cheaper vehicle than the Model 3 probably won’t be necessary.” do you agree Would Tesla’s valuation increase if middle and lower middle class people could buy a Tesla?
Are it important for you to see the loopholes in the “Master Plan, Part Deux” of the mass production of electric semi-trailers and buses? How about a configurable robot?
What improvements would you like to see in over-the-air updates? With personal data protection? With the Supercharger network?
Can you see yourself letting your Tesla take over while driving on your own?
Should Tesla Set the Global Trend for Sustainable Materials Sourcing?
Is accessible, common, and affordable solar equipment something you feel is important to achieving energy freedom?
Would more in-house parts production boost Tesla’s supply capacity by bypassing supply chain bottlenecks?
What about lithium mining and processing, or nickel mining?
What role do general purpose or factory robots play in Tesla’s next master plan?
Basically, what messages do you have for Elon Musk and the Tesla board as they look to a future of all-electric transportation and renewable energy generation?
* Mẹta means “three” in Yoruba.
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