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Expansion into Trucks, Buses and Car Sharing Included in Musk’s ‘Master Plan’

Expansion into Trucks, Buses and Car Sharing Included in Musk’s ‘Master Plan’
An ambitious plan to expand the company into electric trucks and buses, car sharing and solar energy systems was unveiled by Tesla Motors Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk this week.
An integrated carbon-free energy enterprise offering a wider range of vehicles, and products and services beyond electric cars and batteries is what Musk sketched out as his vision in a blog post titled "Master Plan, Part Deux".
Development of car and ride sharing programs as well as commercial vehicles – businesses are included in the plan and are the newest elements. However in some of the businesses other companies have ample head starts on Tesla and are already doing well.
A "new kind of pickup truck", a compact SUV, a public transport bus and a commercial truck called the Tesla Semi are the new vehicles envisioned by Musk. Alongside Tesla's existing fleet of electric cars, the vehicles will be unveiled next year.
Musk aims to make Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving system 10 times safer than cars that humans drive manually and restated his argument that Tesla should acquire solar panel installer SolarCity Corp where he is a major shareholder.
However, at a time when Both Tesla and SolarCity are burning through cash Musk’s plan did not talk about potential funding avenues for his new plans.
Tesla aimed to "create stunning solar roofs (for homes) 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 wrote summarizing the plans.
Using a smartphone application, Tesla owners would allowing others to use their vehicles is also another vision of Musk. While not offer details of how, he indicated there will be a "Tesla shared fleet".
Some of these goals are also being pursued by rival automakers.
“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,” he said. Ride hailing services such as Uber UBER.UL or Lyft would thus become competitors for Tesla is it put forward such a service.
Full self-driving capability would be the feature of all future Tesla products, including trucks and buses, Musk said.
To allow partial autonomy in its vehicles, Tesla’s decision to offer "beta" system or a system called Autopilot was vigorously defended by the Tesla founder. After a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S operating with the system engaged, Federal regulators are investigating Autopilot.
"When used correctly, it (Autopilot) is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves," he wrote.
While indicating that fully autonomous Teslas could require roughly five years of additional testing, Musk did not say when it would be ready.
Heavy investments have been seen in automated driving technology by most major automakers, as well as internet search company Alphabet Inc. work on automated heavy trucks and electric commercial vehicles is being conducted by Germany's Daimler AG. Among the auto companies working on car sharing and forging alliances with ride hailing companies are General Motors Co and Toyota Motor Corp.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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