You know what they say -- timing is everything.
And so, just weeks after his company, Tesla, became embroiled in controversy regarding Autopilot technology in it's cars, Elon Musk is announcing the second part of his "master plan."
Part one, which consisted of creating a luxury car and then using that money to create more affordable cars and then solar power, has been around since 2006 and, according to Musk, is "in the final stages." So what does part deux entail? And how does Musk propose achieving his new goals?
In IT Blogwatch, we get into the fast lane.
Elon Musk...unveiled an ambitious plan to expand the company into electric semi trucks and buses, car sharing and solar energy systems.
In a blog post...Musk sketched a vision of an integrated carbon-free energy enterprise offering a wider range of vehicles, and products and services beyond electric cars and batteries. He restated his argument that Tesla should acquire and integrate the operations... [of] SolarCity Corp.
Background, got it. But what are the details? Charlie Osborne fills in the blanks:
Tesla says the acquisition [of SolarCity] would push the company's goal of sustainability forward...Tesla will also develop heavy-duty trucks and people carriers for urban transport...which Musk says are in the "early stages of development" but should be revealed next year.
The automaker also wants to create fleets of electric vehicles for car-sharing pools. [Musk] hopes that when "true" self-driving is approved...you will simply be able to summon your ride from anywhere [and] Tesla vehicle owners will be able to join their car to a pool for use while they are at work or on holiday.
Sounds ambitious. But what do those in the know think of the plan? According to Russ Mitchell and Charles Fleming they're not all that enthusiastic:
The wide-ranging plan was not greeted warmly by industry analysts...said Jessica Caldwell, analyst at automotive research firm Edmunds, “He...might be spreading himself too thin in terms of what Tesla is able to manage.”
Karl Brauer, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book, was even more downbeat. "It’s sadly not a very...original plan...he's saying...'I’m going to have autonomous vehicles that are purely electric driving around serving people’s transportation needs.' Well, every auto maker has already envisioned that and many are already working toward it."
Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Autotrader, summed up her views...“As is typical, Elon Musk has laid out a grandiose plan for the future with no timeframes and few specifics.”
Big plans, not big hope for analysts. But what about that Autopilot controversy? Elon Musk had something to say that. He also summed up his plan nicely
I should...explain why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting...The...reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves...it would...be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.
So, in short, Master Plan, Part Deux is:
Create stunning solar roofs 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