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Elon Musk’s Master Plan: Solar power, Tesla trucks, self-driving cars and car-sharing

Musk is already developing electric and eventually autonomous trucks and buses.

Elon Musk
Asa Mathat

Elon Musk just revealed the highly anticipated sequel to his original "master plan" (circa 2006). As suspected, the first part of that four-part plan is all about solar energy while the rest focuses on electric and autonomous vehicles.

The Tesla CEO’s blog post reads:

So, in short, Master Plan, Part Deux is:

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

The first part of the plan is essentially Musk’s way of explaining why Tesla’s offer to acquire SolarCity makes sense to potential naysayers like the Tesla and Solar City board members, shareholders and the public. Essentially Musk wants to create a solar roof that also has a battery.

Musk writes:

One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app.

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.

The second part details Tesla’s plan to create electric and eventually autonomous trucks and buses, which is already in the works, according to Musk.

"Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year," he wrote. "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."

The third part, no surprise here, is that Musk plans to have a fully autonomous fleet of vehicles which starts with equipping all of today’s cars with the necessary hardware.

It is important to emphasize 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.

Lastly, as many industry experts often consider to be the future of transportation, car ownership will drastically change because as Musk puts it, with the car’s summon feature you will be able to add your Tesla to any network of autonomous vehicles. So while you’re at work, your Tesla will be out performing rides.

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