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Elon Musk reveals his new master plan for Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during a discussion round in the German Federal Ministry of Economics in Berlin on 24 September 2015.
Image: R4200/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Elon Musk revealed the second part of the so-called “Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan” on Wednesday night, which the company is calling “Master Plan, Part Deux.”

Musk began by laying out why Tesla seeks to buy SolarCity. Without the two being one, Musk won’t be able to create an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product “that just works.” With such a product, Musk sees people taking the utility into their own hands.

Moving on, he laid out his plans for the kinds of vehicles Tesla will build next. These include a compact SUV and a “new kind of pickup truck” as well as the already-unveiled Model 3 sedan. Musk is calling the truck the ‘Tesla Semi.’ Its variants will serve as both heavy-duty trucks semi trucks and urban transport, like buses. Musk plans to unveil these vehicles sometime in the next year.

Musk turned his attention to autonomy, saying it would be “morally reprehensible to delay” the technology and disable Autopilot, even in the face of recent crashes involving the system. He also emphasized that, in the future, every one of the vehicles his company builds will include hardware “necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability.”

Once Tesla has mastered autonomous driving, Musk wants to go after Uber and Lyft. Musk envisions privately owned autonomous cars in this case, Teslas driving around on their own and essentially serving as autonomous taxis, making the owner money when it might otherwise sit idle.

Finishing off the post, he summarized the second part of Tesla’s master plan thusly:

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

Musk’s new plan is a sequel to the first Tesla mater plan, revealed in a blog post in 2006. In that revelation, Musk laid out a seemingly rather simple scheme with the end goal of helping “expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.”

In short, here was the original secret plan:

Build sports car

Use that money to build an affordable car

Use that money to build an even more affordable car

While doing above, provide zero emission electric power generation options

Keen Tesla followers will note that the plan has changed a bit over the last decade. And most of those changes stem from the fact that building a profitable car company from scratch is difficult.

In the first part of the plan, Musk projected he’d be able to sell the company’s second car, that we now know as the Model S, for half the price of the $89,000 Tesla Roadster. The cheapest Model S you can buy today is $70,000, and the average transaction price for a Model S is above the $100,000 mark.

Even with those high sales prices, Tesla has never turned a profit since going public in 2010. What’s more, all things added up, the Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan has put the company into a $4.2 billion deficit, according to Wall Street Journal. Hopefully, this second part will prove both more profitable but also less tumultuous for the company.

Along with ongoing financial woes, as it goes into production of the Model 3, Tesla is facing growing scrutiny by government regulators following two recent crashes involving the company’s semi-autonomous driving system, Autopilot (one of which resulted in a fatality).

The incidents are currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB). The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also investigating how Tesla disseminated the information about the Autopilot fatality to investors.

No matter how part two pans out for Tesla, let’s hope it leads to part three: Profit.

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