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The next stage in the Tesla master plan

By raccars Published


Are you ready for Tesla's world domination?

Elon Musk has been commenting on his company's plans for expansion, which are to include not only a new compact SUV but also new electrified public transport. After a slow beginning, it's been a heady rush into profitability for Tesla since the arrival of the Model S in 2012, with Mr Musk working upon the first stage in a two part plan, jokingly known as 'S3XY' after the nomenclature used for his cars. That would be the Model S, the Model 3 (Model T rights belong to Ford and so were not available), Model X SUV and, logically, Model Y is next.

Tesla Model Y

The Model Y badge is to be applied to a compact SUV model, similar in theory to the larger Model X but without the distinctive gullwing doors, and sitting just above the entry level Model 3 in price. Tesla has yet to reveal any technical details but given the rush to pre-order the Model 3 there's every chance the Model Y could create a similar sensation.

The Master Plan

The SUV was announced last month at a 'Master Plan Part Two' conference, ten years after revealing the 'Master Plan Part One', which is now reaching completion. The plan outlines Tesla's ambitions for future expansion, which includes the SUV, a pick-up and further development of autonomous driving and sustainable working practices.

Tesla apparently wants involvement with each mode of terrestrial transport. Having covered the premium saloon and SUV market sectors, the upcoming Model 3 compact executive and the recently announced compact SUV will further extend its reach, as will a pick-up. Mr Musk believes that market penetration should then be sufficient to eschew the need for a cheaper entry level vehicle below the Model 3.

Among the new technology under development is a solar panel roofing project with an integrated battery system to allow cars to charge themselves independently. Tesla plans to make the technology easy to install by home owners and that it will generate power to charge the cars at home rather than using a grid-based power source.

Public transport

Musk has also spoken about 'high passenger density urban transport' and heavy duty trucks, claiming development is underway on both and that plans should be ready to introduce to the public in 2017. This foray into public transport will rely heavily upon autonomous driving technology, despite some controversy surrounding Tesla's Autopilot scheme which saw a fatal accident take place while the system was in use.

Buses are to be controlled by a central pilot rather than individual drivers and Tesla aims to reduce congestion by offering a new passenger seating layout. This means removing a central aisle and replacing existing entryways with seating.

Buses would follow the preceding vehicle's driving behaviour, so braking and accelerating in tandem with the vehicle ahead. This means less space required between vehicles on the road and added efficiency. Jaguar Land Rover is currently in the process of trialling a similar system.

Legislative hurdles

Tesla does admit, however, that laws and legislation have not yet been formulated to make autonomous driving technology safe or practical for use on public roads. Musk believes that policy makers will be slow to match the speed of technical development in self-driving systems. He suggests that self-driving cars will need to have travelled about six billion miles before receiving regulatory approval at a global level. At the moment trial fleets are covering about three million miles every day.

Also a part of the second stage of the Master Plan is a car sharing app for smartphones, which will allow car owners to earn money from their car while it is not being used. Tesla intends to supply its own fleet of cars to prop up any shortfall from customer-owned vehicles.

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