TESLA CEO Elon Musk has released the second installment of his master plan in the form of a blog entry on the firm’s website.
Master Plan, Part Deux, as it’s titled, comes almost 10 years after his initial vision was released in the same fashion, and reveals ambitious plans which will see the introduction of a ute, an all-new compact SUV, a foray into the truck and bus industry and even the notion of profiting from hiring out its customers’ unused cars.
All in the name of creating a sustainable future, of course, Tesla’s expansion of its model range to include all major segments means two of Australia’s fastest-growing segments – trade utes and compact SUVs – will ultimately include an all-electric Tesla-badged option.
In the first six months of 2016, Australians purchased over 9000 more two- and four-wheeled drive utes than in the same period 12 months ago, while the lucrative SUV market also experienced significant growth.
“With the Model 3, a future compact SUV and a new kind of pick-up truck, we plan to address most of the consumer market,” Musk wrote. In admitting that a vehicle bearing a lower price tag than the A$40K – A$60K the Model 3 currently asks was “unlikely to be necessary”, he revealed the American firm is well into the development phase of a both a semi-trailer prime mover and a bus; both of which will be unveiled as early as next year.
Musk’s plan also includes a move towards energy-collecting solar-paneled roofs for its vehicles, which would have integrated battery storage capabilities.
Also contained in Master Plan, Part Deux is perhaps the most ambitious part of Musk’s vision. In a sub-heading titled Sharing, Musk expounds his support for the concept of car-sharing – allowing others to use your self-driving car and generate income while you’re not using it through the introduction of a Tesla shared fleet. While the idea was sold as one which has the potential to reduce the overall cost of Tesla ownership, it could be seen by cynics a cleverly hatched strategy by the company to extract even more money from Tesla owners who’ve endured the myriad of issues the company has suffered in its fledgling years.
The Tesla CEO and SpaceX entrepreneur also used the blog post to defend the firm’s autonomous driving technology which has come under scrutiny since the recent fatal crash suffered by a Tesla owner occurred while using the self-driving technology.
“When used correctly,” he emphasised, Tesla’s AutoPilot technology “is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves” and said that while the firm is aware the system needs considerably more development before it's a refined system, he said it would “be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.”