Why Elon Musk won't let "bad press" affect his new masterplan

A fresh defense of the safety of autonomous cars, and an explanation for that controversial Tesla-SolarCity merger...

Why Elon Musk won't let "bad press" affect his new masterplan

Elon Musk. Picture by Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media via Wikimedia Commons

Having teased a "secret masterplan" 10 days ago, Tesla chief Elon Musk has finally made his blueprint for the future of Tesla and more public.

In a lengthy blog post, the entrepreneur and inventor confirmed many people's suspicions that his plan would involve SolarCity, highlighting Tesla's controversial merger with the solar panel provider he also founded as being vital to creating a "smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product".

That was but one of the points included in his "Master Plan, Part Deux", published a decade on from the first, famous plan which he now sees as completed.

The original "Top Secret Tesla Masterplan"?

As Tesla's affordable Model 3 sedan looks set to arrive in 2017, Musk is now ready for phase two.

When it comes to his goal of integrating energy generation and storage, he sidestepped accusations that Tesla is buying SolarCity to save the latter, stating that the fact that they were ever separate at all "is largely an accident of history".

"Now that Tesla is ready to scale Powerwall," he wrote, "and SolarCity is ready to provide highly differentiated solar, the time has come to ring them together."

Also on the agenda is an expansion of Tesla's fleet to cover the major forms of terrestrial transport.

In terms of the consumer market, along with the Model 3, "a future compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck" are planned.

Not only that, Musk has his eye on electric heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport.

He anticipates both will be ready for unveiling next year.

Musk also foresees autonomous transport resulting in the size of buses shrinking and the bus driver becoming more of a "fleet manager".

Speaking of autonomy, Musk has maintained that all Tesla vehicles will boast the hardware required to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability ("meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely").

He also supplied his rationale for Tesla currently offering "partial autonomy" now, rather than waiting:

"The most important reason is that, 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."

Musk explained what the "beta" label Tesla applies to its current self-driving vehicles means:

"Every release goes through extensive internal validation before it reaches any customers.

"It is called beta in order to decrease complacency and indicate that it will continue to improve (Autopilot is always off by default). Once we get to the point where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average, the beta label will be removed."

His final aim is to promote the sharing of motors once full autonomy is a reality:

"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."

In short, then, "Master Plan, Part Deux" is:

 You wouldn't bet against him making it all a reality.