Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has revealed his new master plan, which includes a pure electric autonomous bus and semi-truck. He posted the company's new plan on Tesla's blog and simply calls it Part Deux (French for Part Two). Part one was revealed a decade ago, which essentially laid out the company's plan to use the huge sum to money generated by manufacturing and selling a low-volume, expensive car (Model S) to build a medium volume car at a lower price point (Model X) and then use the money generated from that to develop a low-cost, high-volume car (Model 3). The final step was to provide solar power.
Tesla has more or less achieved its goals, but the new mission seems quite exciting. Some of its objectives are expanding the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments, develop a self-driving capability that is 10 times safer than manual via massive fleet learning, and enable your car to make money for you when you aren't using it. The billionaire CEO envisions a radical new way of transport and says that Tesla is working on heavy-duty trucks and high passenger density urban transport (buses). Both are currently in the early stages of development and should be unveiled by 2017. He adds, The Tesla semi-truck will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate." The reduction of cargo transport can be attributed to using electric energy that's cheaper than conventional diesel and eliminating the salary of a driver.
Musk also feels that the future electric buses should be smaller than the current ones to decrease traffic congestion. Autonomy means a driver will not be required and his role can be changed to that of a fleet manager. The buses will help ease traffic congestion due to increased passenger areal density. The interior of the buses will be redesigned to increase passenger areal density. The center aisle would be eliminated, and seats would be placed where entryways are. There will be space to accommodate strollers, bicycles and wheelchairs. The autonomous technology will allow the bus to match acceleration and deceleration to other vehicles on the road. Thus, there won't be any obstruction to the smooth flow of traffic. Buses can be summoned by using a smartphone app. Additionally, there'll be summon buttons at stops. Musk further states that the when self-driving will be approved by regulators, people can summon Tesla cars to their locations. For this, Tesla will ply their own fleet of vehicles.
The owners of Tesla cars with the autonomous technology can also benefit, by registering their cars to the Tesla shared fleet. This means that when you are in the office or out on vacation, the car earns money for you. Musk estimates that owners usually use their car for five to ten per cent of the day. The idle time can be utilised to ferry people to their destinations. At the end of the day, when the owners need their cars to commute, they can summon their cars. Musk states that the potential earnings could easily offset or earn more money than the monthly loan amount or lease cost.
Musk also explained the meaning of the term beta for Tesla cars autopilot system. The word beta does not literally translate to a beta version. It's there to prevent complacency from the drivers, and it will continue to improve. Autopilot is off by default in Tesla cars.
Recently, Tesla's autonomous system was held responsible for a fatal crash in the US. The driver was watching a movie when his TeslaModel Sploughed through a semi-truck that was turning to the other side of the road. Tesla officials stated that the system could not distinguish between the white surface of the semi-truck's trailer and the bright blue sky. Tesla recommends that the driver remains alert and keeps his hands on the steering wheel.
Tesla's new plan could prove to be highly beneficial to India. Union minister for transport Nitin Gadkari recently met Tesla officials in the US and discussed plans to set up a manufacturing base in India as well as tie up with Indian auto manufacturers to co-produce electric vehicles. If the company agrees, the access to Tesla's vast expertise would expedite the process of introducing full electric/autonomous vehicles in our country.