Tesla’s New Master Plan: Solar Roofs & Autopilot

Elon Musk’s new master plan is out, and he’s raising the bar for Tesla Motors in a major way.

In case you missed it, the quick list of goals looks like this:

  • 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

We’ve already looked more closely at Musk’s ideas for expanding the Tesla brand to electric semi trucks and buses and for starting a car-sharing program. Now, let’s delve into the other two major points, solar roofs with battery storage and a safer self-driving capability.

1. One of the key components to Musk’s new plan is the pending merger of his solar company, SolarCity, with Tesla. Musk has designs on creating “a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works.” In order for Tesla’s Powerwall to become more scalable and work with rooftop solar installations, Musk believes it’s vital to have Tesla and SolarCity operating as one entity. Musk says he is confident that the deal will “pass by a two-thirds majority.”

2. The new Tesla plan also focuses heavily on the safety of the car-maker’s Autopilot feature. Musk spent a portion of his update defending Tesla’s Autopilot, citing that he has no plans to disable the feature, even in the wake of a federal investigation into a fatal 2015 crash involving Autopilot. Musk points out that Autopilot is still in a “beta” stage, that the feature is always off by default, and that only once Tesla gets to the point “where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average, the beta label will be removed.”

Clearly, Elon Musk’s goals in terms of a fully self-driving car and any role that could play in his planned Tesla car-sharing program are well beyond the horizon. Many legal hurdles stand between present day and Musk’s dream of a completely autonomous, electric car, but as he showed a decade ago, it’s never to early to start putting your ideas in motion.