Integrating rooftop solar power with storage is one of four parts to Tesla’s Master Plan “Part Deux,” CEO Elon Musk announced Wednesday evening.
The plan also includes expanding Tesla’s electric vehicle product line with pickup trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, developing a self-driving system that is "significantly safer" than humans behind the wheel and enabling owners to make money off their cars by sharing them.
Individuals will be their own utility companies
Integrating rooftop solar with storage means individuals would be “empowered” to be their own utility companies. Seamlessly integrating solar panels with battery storage means customers would have “one ordering experience, one installation, one service contract, one phone app,” Musk wrote in a blog posted to the company’s recently renamed website, Tesla.com.
To achieve that goal, Musk said Tesla and SolarCity need to be combined into a single company. Musk announced last month that he intended to purchase the So Cal solar-energy provider.
All-electric pickup truck, heavy-duty truck, high-density transport in the works
In addition to the premium Model S sedan, Model X SUV and compact Model 3 sedan Tesla will begin producing next year, Musk said Tesla will also make a compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck to “address most of the consumer market.”
But he also announced two other types of Tesla EVs: heavy-duty trucks and high-passenger density urban transport. Musk said Tesla is currently working on both and may reveal them as early as next year.
Autonomous car technology will continue
All Tesla vehicles will be built with the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving, though Musk acknowledged that the software still needs refinement and that regulatory hurdles need to be overcome.
Defending Tesla’s decision to deploy its partially autonomous system, in light of a May 7 crash that killed the driver, Musk said Autopilot is significantly safer than a person driving himself when used correctly.
“It would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability,” he explained.
Tesla owners can rent their cars for money
Once cars are fully autonomous, Musk said Tesla owners will be able to add their vehicles to the Tesla shared fleet. Doing so would allow Tesla vehicle owners to earn money from their cars while they are not in use — a system similar to the car-sharing service, Turo.
Most cars are only in use by their owner 5 to 10 percent of the day, Musk said.
Tesla car sharing “dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla,” Musk said.
In areas where demand exceeds the supply of customer-owned cars, Musk sad Tesla will operate its own fleet of shared vehicles.
Musk introduced his Master Plan Part Deux by explaining that “we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. 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.”
Part Deux comes 10 years after Musk’s Master Plan Part 1. Released in 2006 and pretty much followed to a T, it consisted of four basic components: Create a low-volume high-cost car, use that money to develop a medium-volume car at a lower price, use that money to create an affordable high-volume car and provide solar power.
Tesla's first master plan was to “defend against the inevitable attacks Tesla would face accusing us of just caring about making cars for rich people, implying that we felt there was a shortage of sports car companies,” Musk wrote, adding that he failed in that goal.