Tesla Inc (Formally Tesla Motors) is an electric car company based in Palo Alto, California. But Tesla is so much more than just a car company. For almost ten years it’s been redefining the image of the electric car. A concept that had traditionally been laughed at by Detroit. Tesla launched the Tesla Roadster back in 2008, and with a 200-mile range and a 0-60 of 4.6 seconds, the electric motor was no longer just for golf carts and milk floats.
Tesla has ambitious plans, with Elon Musk setting out his Master Plan Part Deux which is made up of the following points:
- Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
- Expand to Cover the Major Forms of Terrestrial Transport
- 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
So let’s take a look at those points. Now that Tesla owns SolarCity they also have a focus to deliver exceptional products in the solar energy market. Given the huge research and investment going into design and production of batteries, this makes a lot of sense. If you were to install a Tesla solar panel on your house in 2025, you could probably drive your car for free. By 2030, car ownership will most likely decline in favour of autonomous taxi services. However, the advancement in solar energy probably means you could power your home for free, so it’s future proofing Tesla’s business as an energy provider if car sales collapse.
The second point is alluding to the Tesla Semi and the ‘high passenger density urban transport’. Both are not only great options for reducing transportation costs, for companies that utilise these types of vehicles, but again it helps Tesla stay relevant when personal vehicles sales decline. Some of these products will be unveiled this year, so we await patiently to see if the Tesla Semi can compete with the Nikola One. At the very earliest we’ll know how successful these new ventures are by 2022.
Self-Driving cars are here, silently waiting in the wings, waiting to be accepted by the general public. Tesla is the company most likely to take risks with this technology, as you can already opt into their auto-pilot program (which is assisted driving rather than fully-autonomous). The reason why the goal here is 10x is that if it were 2x or 3x better than manual (human) driving, the general public would deem the cars unsafe. “Only humans should have the responsibility of driving” You’ll hear people say. Obviously, the public’s logic here is flawed (to put it kindly). But public perception is ultimately what will change the future of any industry. Expect Regular sightings of autonomous vehicles in the US and UK by 2023.
Enabling your car to become an autonomous ride-sharing vehicle to make you money? Pretty risky idea. With Airbnb, Uber and others, I can see where the option to put your car to work in the micro-economy came from. However, would you want your $75,000 Tesla smelling of weed, fast food and semen when it came to pick you up from work? Probably not. Unlikely to become mainstream.
You can find a list of what we classify as ‘Futurist Products’ Below
The Model S is a fully electric luxury sedan with assisted driving capabilities (Although you have to opt into the beta for this). It costs $75,000 (£62,000) has a range of approximately 400 miles and a 0-60 of between 2.4 and 5.9 seconds, depending on the model.
The Model X is a fully electric luxury SUV with ‘Falcon Wing’ doors. It costs $80,000 (£80,000) has a range of approximately 420 miles and a 0-60 of between 3.1 to 5.2 seconds, depending on the model.
The Model 3 is a fully electric compact luxury sedan. The most critical feature of this model is its price. At an estimated starting cost of $35,000 (£30,000), it has the opportunity to go mass market. With the additional savings in fuel (and perhaps taxes depending on where you live), it brings it in line with a BMW 3 Series. This level of competitiveness has raised series concern for the old guys. How can we know this? By the amount of money they are spending on developing their own fully electric semi-autonomous cars. Ford being the standout example here. We have to give Ford credit for the way they are re-focusing their development.
Ford even has the ambition to produce a fully-autonomous vehicle for a ride-sharing service by 2021. Their website states “Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities with investments in electrification, autonomy and mobility” So they score points with us for that. It’s interesting they also aim to take down Uber in the process [See Ride Sharing for more analysis on this]. But for Tesla, this poses serious competition given Ford’s legacy in production, distribution and financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. But for us as futurists, it’s only a good thing. Tesla will keep powering through taking risks and innovating, while Ford will be doing what they do best, churning out cars from their assembly lines.