Analysis of Elon Musk’s “Master Plan: Part Deux”

Recently, King Huckster of Muskster, Sir Elon of Ellywinkle, The Guru of Grantola, The Prince of Poofery, The Man Himself published his second “Master Plan” for his failing start-up.i For future posterity and current prostrarity, it’s adnotated herebelow :

Master Plan, Part Deux 
Elon Musk July 20, 2016

The first master plan that I wrote 10 years ago is now in the final stages of completion. It wasn’t all that complicatedii and basically consisted of:

Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensiveiii
Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower priceiv
Use that money to create an affordable, high volume carv
Provide solar No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.vii
The reason we had to start off with step 1 was that it was all I could afford to do with what I made from PayPal. I thought our chances of success were so low that I didn’t want to risk anyone’s funds in the beginning but my own. The list of successful car company startups is short. As of 2016, the number of American car companies that haven’t gone bankrupt is a grand total of two: Ford and Tesla. Starting a car company is idioticviii and an electric car company is idiocy squared.ix

Also, a low volume car means a much smaller, simpler factory, albeit with most things done by hand. Without economies of scale, anything we built would be expensive, whether it was an economy sedan or a sports car. While at least some people would be prepared to pay a high price for a sports car, no one was going to pay $100k for an electric Honda Civic, no matter how cool it looked.

Part of the reason I wrote the first master plan was to defend against the inevitable attacks Tesla would face accusing us of just caring about making cars for rich people,x implying that we felt there was a shortage of sports car companies or some other bizarre rationale. Unfortunately, the blog didn’t stop countless attack articles on exactly these grounds, so it pretty much completely failed that objective.xi

However, the main reason was to explain how our actions fit into a larger picture, so that they would seem less random. The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good. That’s what “sustainable” means. It’s not some silly, hippy thing — it matters for everyone.

By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse.xii Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.xiii

Here is what we plan to do to make that day come sooner:

Integrate Energy Generation and Storage:
Create a smoothly integrated and beautifulxiv solar-roof-with-battery product that just works,xv empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app.

We can’t do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies.xvi That they are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history. Now that Tesla is ready to scale Powerwall and SolarCity is ready to provide highly differentiated solar, the time has come to bring them together.

Expand to Cover the Major Forms of Terrestrial Transport:
Today, Tesla addresses two relatively small segments of premium sedans and SUVs. With the Model 3, a future compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck,xvii we plan to address most of the consumer market. A lower cost vehicle than the Model 3 is unlikely to be necessary, because of the third part of the plan described below.

What really matters to accelerate a sustainable future is being able to scale up production volume as quickly as possible.xviii That is why Tesla engineering has transitioned to focus heavily on designing the machine that makes the machine — turning the factory itself into a product. A first principles physics analysis of automotive production suggests that somewhere between a 5 to 10 fold improvement is achievable by version 3 on a roughly 2 year iteration cycle. The first Model 3 factory machine should be thought of as version 0.5,xix with version 1.0 probably in 2018.

In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucksxx and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year. We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.xxi

With the advent of autonomy, it will probably make sense to shrink the size of buses and transition the role of bus driver to that of fleet manager.xxii Traffic congestion would improve due to increased passenger areal density by eliminating the center aisle and putting seats where there are currently entryways, and matching acceleration and braking to other vehicles, thus avoiding the inertial impedance to smooth traffic flow of traditional heavy buses. It would also take people all the way to their destination. Fixed summon buttons at existing bus stops would serve those who don’t have a phone. Design accommodates wheelchairs, strollers and bikes.

As the technology matures, all Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely.xxiii It is important to emphasize that refinement and validation of the software will take much longer than putting in place the cameras, radar, sonar and computing hardware.

Even once the software is highly refined and far better than the average human driver, there will still be a significant time gap, varying widely by jurisdiction, before true self-driving is approved by regulators. We expect that worldwide regulatory approval will require something on the order of 6 billion miles (10 billion km). Current fleet learning is happening at just over 3 million miles (5 million km) per day.

I should add a note here to explain why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until some point in the future. The most important reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.xxiv

According to the recently released 2015 NHTSA report, automotive fatalities increased by 8% to one death every 89 million miles. Autopilot miles will soon exceed twice that number and the system gets better every day. It would no more make sense to disable Tesla’s Autopilot, as some have called for, than it would to disable autopilot in aircraft, after which our system is named.xxv

It is also important to explain why we refer to Autopilot as “beta”. This is not beta software in any normal sense of the word.xxvi Every release goes through extensive internal validation before it reaches any customers. It is called beta in order to decrease complacencyxxvii and indicate that it will continue to improve (Autopilot is always off by default). Once we get to the point where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average, the beta label will be removed.

When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere. Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute to your destination.xxviii

You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost. This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.xxix

In cities where demand exceeds the supply of customer-owned cars, Tesla will operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are.

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

___ ___ ___

  1. Dollars to donuts the fountains of fed-backed payola dry up like an sundried prune as soon as Herr Trump takes the White House.
  2. Utopian dreams never are.
  3. This was known simply as the “Roadster” and was based on a Lotus platform.
  4. Aka the Model S four-door, and to some degree the Model X SUV as well.
  5. This being the muchly touted vapourware, the Model 3.
  6. In case you’ve never had the priviledge of PV of your very own, let me tell you that the real-world numbers aren’t all that appealing.
  7. Gotta love how Musk ticked this box too, by playing ponzi crane operator with another company he founded, SolarCity, and dropping its worthless assets on the Tesla books, giving the former an entirely unwarranted valuation and the latter an entirely unwarranted appearance of appartenance in the tech space.
  8. This is patently true. Just ask the new Deloreantards.
  9. This is also patently true. Just ask Shai.
  10. One need only look at how remarkably well this approach – that of making cars for rich people in general and Chinese rich people in particular – is going for companies like Porsche to see how wrong Musk’s priors are. The broken jew-genes are strong with this one!
  11. When an objective is that flawed – when you try to come down to the level of dummies – how can you be surprised that they beat you with pure experience ?
  12. Hey Musk, Malthus called and he wants his apocalyptic vizions of the future where the planet can no longer sustain us back. Don’t be a doomhog now.
  13. Virtually! All! SCIENTIIIIISTTAAASSS!!1 And what about the ones the Church-funded Priests that don’t believe that the Earth is the centre of the Universe and that the sky is but a fixed, pin-holed veil ? Hm ?
  14. The essence of vapourware, from MaidSafe on upwards, is the focused intention on “beauty,” lest any visually savvy and intellectually impoverished “investors” be left with pockets full of dough for someone less lazy to pick.
  15. “Just Wanted To” ™
  16. This baleful nonsense about “breaking down barriers” is keenly reminiscent of every last lowering of barriers to entry that leftards have yet idealised into fruition – from their immoral universal suffrage to their immora “rights” of every description to Black Lives Herr Derr – all of it. Barriers are there for a reason. And so they will remain wherever sanity flourishes.  
  17. Between the F-150 and the Ridgeline, there’s essentially no room for entrants into the pickup market. Ask Dodge and Chevy, they’ve been trying for decades to no avail. It’s not that there’s too little room in this hyper-competitive segment, it’s that there’s less room than there is at the Château Laurier for July 1, 2017. Ford and Honda have it cornered like Standard Oil had the petroleum industry cornered in 1890 to the degree that the unmanageable range stress of having 2`000lbs+ added to the already porcine figures of electric vehicles is almost an inconsequential concern.
  18. Quick, before el nuevo dictador takes the helm and our lending tree catches rot!
  19. o.O This is a rather juicy admission if you read between the lines. Basically, expect the new 3, even when it comes out behind schedule (as everyone sane fully expects), to be riddled with bugs and problems (as everyone sane fully expects). And if you have a problem with that, well, you just don’t understand how versioning works, terrorist. Not exactly news, no, but nor is it what you’d expect from the Chief Evangelical Officer.
  20. This semi truck idea actually isn’t so terrible given that the weight of the batteries is more easily masked in a larger form factor and recharging along highway routes is readily accomplished at more predictable intervals. The electric semi truck actually makes sense. At least it’s less of an iPad and more like a useable instrument than a personal city car.
  21. Y’know that all you hear from truckers : why can’t this job be more fun!
  22. Heh. Fleet manager is already a job! What Musky is really saying is that bus drivers and truck drivers can kiss their low-skill jobs bye-bye. Not that this should be news to anyone with a bird’s eye view, but it may still well be news to those low-skilled fellers.
  23. Even… the engine ? Hey, he said “any,” not me.
  24. “That, and we were hard-up for some press. Any nooz is good nooz!”
  25. “We named this cardboard cutout of a ship ‘Titanic’ after the late, great seafaring vessel of the same name. Now we’re all going to board this cardboard cutout and maintain chesty rumbles imitating diesel engines while we take ‘er out to sea! Great success!”
  26. “Words mean what we say they mean goshdarnit! So when we tell you to check your white priviledge, you can’t tell us we’re being racist because you’re white and white people can’t call anyone racist darntootin! Thems the rulez!
  27. Calling Bitcoin “beta” for the same reason – so as to direct attention not only to its stark-raving idiocy but also its equally potent ability to bite your hand off if you’re not ever-so-careful – isn’t in the least bit unwarranted.
  28. Don’t expect the first regulators to approve self-driving trainwrecks to be Americans, however. They have bigger fish to fry. Like building walls, staving off hunger, etc etc.
  29. You only use your bed for 20 – 30% of the day, but do you rent it out to homeless people while you’re at work ? If not, why not ? I’m sure there’s a perfectly rational explanation for it, seeing as how you’re a very rational optimising sort of fellow, right ? Speaking of which, I don’t suppose you’ll be needing that second kidney then either. I’m sure you won’t mind if you’re freed of the burden of carrying around that redundant meat pouch. Just, sign here

5 thoughts on “Analysis of Elon Musk’s “Master Plan: Part Deux”

  1. […] not by a long shot. Buyers will expect their Model 3 to be faultless, but it won’t be, Musk has already admitted as much. So if anything, a Model 3 with the same specs and a different badge would be very much preferable […]

  2. […] share of “Green Energy” “Loans” from Bahamas – exactly like Elon The Terrible – and still only skirted Chapter 7 because Mulally sold JLR to the Indians, Aston to the […]

  3. […] interrupted only by a catered sushi lunch and a drag race in which my other friend Adam’s Tesla Model S 90D jumped me off the start line and beat my beloved Blackzilla to the finish. The new king […]

  4. […] been perhaps unduly, even unfairly critical of Elon Musk and his electric car company Tesla (eg. 1, 2, 3), but I think that it’s now safe to say that I’d underestimated the […]

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