Elon Musk teases new ‘Top Secret Tesla Masterplan’

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk could release a new master plan for the California-based electric vehicle manufacturer later this week.

Musk teased the release in a tweet Sunday: “Working on Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2. Hoping to publish later this week.”

The new master plan follows weeks of negative publicity for Tesla involving its Autopilot system, including a fatal accident in Florida that prompted federal officials to open investigations into the semi-autonomous driving feature, and Tesla’s plans to acquire SolarCity, a solar-power company chaired by Musk.

Musk introduced Tesla’s first master plan in August 2006, when the company was only offering a $100,000-plus roadster. That plan included ambitions to build a “wide range of models,” including a “sporty four-door family car” (now known as the Model S) and an “even more affordable” model (upcoming Model 3).

“The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive-down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model,” Musk wrote in a blog outlining the initial plan.

Musk also gave an overview of Tesla’s mission “to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.” He also mentions offering SolarCity systems to Tesla customers to generate about 50 miles per day of electricity.

Investors likely will be watching the new master plan for better details on Tesla’s plans with SolarCity; updates for an aggressive ramp-up to 500,000 vehicles by 2018, including launching the Model 3 by the end of next year; and how the company’s dealing with investigations and criticism of its Autopilot system.

The National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both have announced investigations into the driver-assist system as a result of a fatal May 7 accident involving a 2015 Tesla Model S in Florida that was in Autopilot.

NHTSA has said preliminary reports say the crash happened when a semi-trailer rig turned left in front of the Tesla at a highway intersection. Florida police said the roof of the car struck the underside of the trailer and the car passed beneath. The Tesla driver was dead at the scene.

“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” Tesla said in a blog posting June 30.

As the result of the crash, NHTSA is now investigating about 25,000 Tesla cars.

mwayland@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeWayland