Musk’s new master plan for Tesla

July 20, 2016

Tesla Autopilot (credit: Tesla Motors)

Elon Musk revealed his new master plan for Tesla today¬†(July 20) in a blog post published on Tesla’s website:

  • 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.

Increasing safety: “morally reprehensible to delay”

In the context of the recent Autopilot problem, Musk clarified why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until some point in the future: “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.

“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, than it would to disable autopilot in aircraft, after which our system is named.”

Another way to increase safety, he says, is new heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport, both planned for unveiling next year. “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. It would also take people all the way to their destination.”

Lowering the cost of an autonomous car

Musk said that when true self-driving is approved by regulators, “it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere. Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read, or do anything else enroute to your destination.

“You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost. 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.”

Musk said that in cities where demand exceeds the supply of customer-owned cars, “Tesla will operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are.”