Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveiled “part two” of his “master plan” for the electric car company July 20, a four-part outline involving energy generation and storage; an expanded Tesla lineup; autonomous driving; and car sharing.
First, Musk says he wants people to have the ability to generate their own solar power so that they become “their own utility.”
This can’t be done, however, until Tesla Motors – which Musk is renaming, simply, Tesla, to reflect its broader goals – completes a merger with California-based solar power company SolarCity, which Musk, as chairman, owns a 22-percent stake.
Musk claims the two companies have similarly aligned goals, and given that Tesla’s own designed-for-home-use Powerwall lithium-ion battery pack is getting closer to mass production and SolarCity is a proven solar provider, it’s time for it and Tesla to merge.
To that end, Tesla has offered to buy SolarCity for almost $3 billion US, a deal Musk is confident will be approved by investors.
Musk has long said he wants to make Tesla cars that can be more easily afforded by more people, and says the new compact Model 3, due to go on sale late next year, will be followed by a compact SUV and a pickup truck at some point in the future.
All of these vehicles are expected to be more affordable than the Model S and X, and should provide more complete coverage of the market, according to Musk.
Musk also says Tesla has heavy-duty trucks and other high-passenger commercial vehicles in development, the first of which should be revealed next year.
Tesla will also make forays into the world of autonomous driving with future product releases. These vehicles will have the necessary hardware built in, according to Musk, and will be fail-operational, meaning they will still be driveable even if any of their autonomous systems break down.
Once fully self-driving cars are approved by regulators, Musk says, Tesla owners will be able to summon their cars from anywhere and will be able to do non-driving things while traveling to their destinations, including reading and sleeping.
Owners will also be able to add their car to a shared Tesla fleet via the company’s smartphone app, enabling it to earn secondary income when not in use, like when owners are on vacation or away on business.