Image Elon Musk

The Newest Iteration of Musk’s Tesla Master Plan

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Elon Musk’s Master Plans have always been an area of great pop culture interest and speculation. With “secret” exposes shared between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the reader, feelings of intimacy and having a front row seat to the future have prevailed. In Master Plan 1, Musk’s insight into a bit of human nature emerged: “Don’t tell anyone.” Needless to say, the word spread freely about Tesla’s innovative, disruptive, and futuristic company focus at a moment in time when other automakers were content with the internal combustion engine status quo.

A whole lot has changed since the Master Plans of 2006 and 2016 were released, however. Tesla’s dominance at the top of the all-electric transportation market is now being challenged. With the tweet that Master Plan 3 will be revealed at the upcoming March 1 Investor Day, curiosity is rampant.

What messages will emerge from the 2023 Master Plan? Let’s track what we know so far as a framework for figuring out the possible elements in Musk’s Master Plan 3.

Tesla’s Original Master Plan

The Master Plan 1 summary was:

  • Build (an electric) sports car;
  • Use that money to build an affordable (electric) car;
  • Use that money to build an even more affordable (electric) car; and,
  • While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options.

Below is a word cloud that captures the most common words in the original Tesla Master Plan — electric car, km, Tesla, gas, efficient, Roadster, and power.

Master Plan
Graphic created by Carolyn Fortuna/ CleanTechnica

How did Tesla do with these goals between 2006–2016?

The first Roadster rolled off the production line on February 1, 2008. Tesla’s first car needed to be an exclusive and pricey limited-production sports car to keep production costs down and profits high. As our friends over at EV Annex note, the Roadster’s central screen and practice of updating tech foreshadowed Tesla’s unique approach to the mass-production of its EVs that followed years later. It also gave Tesla some early experience, credibility, and revenue in order to launch the production Model S and every model thereafter.

In 2010, Tesla received approval for about $465 million in low-interest loans from the US Department of Energy to accelerate the production of affordable, fuel-efficient EV. The company used about $365 million for production engineering and assembly of the Model S, an all-electric family sedan that carries 7 people and travels up to 300 miles per charge.

Today, Tesla’s zero-emission electric power generation options seem nearly run-of-the-mill. But in 2015, the synergy of battery packs paired with solar panels and plugged into the power grid seemed absolutely ultramodern. Tesla worked on grid batteries for many years before it was ready to put hundreds of systems in operation. Tesla’s first big push into energy — Tesla Energy —  began with the reveal of the Powerpack and Powerwall.

Tesla’s Master Plan Deux

The Master Plan Deux summary was:

  • 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; and,
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it.

Below is a word cloud that captures the most common words used in Master Plan Deux: car, Tesla, company, drive, plan, fleet, and sustainable.

Master Plan
Graphic by Carolyn Fortuna/ CleanTechnica

How did Tesla do with these goals between 2016–2023?

Tesla’s objective in developing version 3 of its solar roof was to improve on the flaws identified in the earlier versions of the product. Tesla Vice President of Technology Drew Baglino said Tesla was aiming to enhance the product by improving its cost, beauty, and tile manufacturability. The Tesla Solar Roof has experienced significant setbacks that have delayed its design, production, and deployment. Data indicates that the price of a Tesla Solar Roof varies substantially depending on a roof’s complexity.

The Tesla Model Y is the company’s battery electric compact crossover meant to reach a larger segment of the population. It started production at the company’s Fremont plant, and first deliveries occurred in March 2020. Musk predicted during the Q1 2021 earnings call that the Model Y would “quite likely” be the world’s best-selling car in the future. The Tesla Model Y accounted for nearly 1 out of every 3 new EVs registered in the US during Q1 2022.

Then again, the Cybertruck, which seemed to be an important element of the intended Tesla catalog round-out, has yet to launch.  On the Q4 2022 Tesla conference call for shareholders, there was a question about whether start of Cybertruck production is still slated for mid-2023. Tesla CEO Elon Musk answered that he didn’t really want people to overhype start of production, because it’s really the start of volume production that matters.

Tesla’s FSD remains central to its most talked-about products. Last year, Tesla opened its FSD beta to all users in North America who paid for it ($15,000 at the moment, $6,000 a few years ago). Although, its potential is not fully realized and it’s still at autonomous driving Level 2.

On April 22, 2019, Tesla held an event it dubbed “Autonomy Day.” The event was designed to highlight the autonomous driving technology the company builds into every Tesla. Musk said, “I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year” and made the prediction that Tesla would have a million robotaxis on public roads by the end of 2020. These fully self-driving cars wouldn’t need a human driver and would be able to usher passengers to locations of their choice. While these robotaxis work fine in a controlled environment, actual road conditions are messy and constantly changing, making it nearly impossible so far for a self-driving car to navigate independently. So owners aren’t yet making the cash that a robotaxi has the potential to generate.

And That Brings Us to Master Plan 3!

Nearly a year ago, Musk tweeted that he had already begun to work on Master Plan 3. Speculation about its contents correlated to issues that seemed pressing at the time.

Business Insider suggests that, so far in 2023, Tesla has been off to a good start. Shares in the automaker have surged about 60% on investor hopes that Tesla’s aggressive price cuts will boost EV demand and a better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings report. It is likely Musk will use investor optimism as a stepping stone to his future vision within Master Plan 3.

Buying into the Biden–Harris administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant program means that a segment of Tesla Superchargers will be open to non-Teslas. That means more revenue for Tesla and increased brand allure. The Plan will likely reflect the need for charging to be pervasive yet profitable.

Twitter has been an all-encompassing focus for Musk over the past 12 months. Purchased with the goal of pursuing free speech, he’s since been consumed with allowing divisive voices to take hold. He’s interested in retraining machine learning algorithms to more precisely label attributes of interest. Rapid disinformation attacks — those attacks in which disinformation is unleashed quickly and broadly with the goal of creating an immediate disruptive effect — can take hold as a result.

Further emphasis on Tesla Energy can produce the “message of good hope and positivity” that Musk says he is seeking. Tesla’s energy business growth had been limited by supply chain constraints, but expanded production and deployment can be resolved with volume. “Our primary mission is to accelerate sustainable energy, and we’re trying to stay true to that,” Musk said in late 2021. The utility-scale Megapack energy storage product stores energy for the grid, eliminating the need for gas peaker plants and helping to avoid outages. Each unit can store over 3 MWh of energy — enough energy to power an average of 3,600 homes for one hour. Indeed, a writer at Seeking Alpha predicts that energy storage growth will kick in rapidly in 2023 and be a long-term game changer for the company.

Extending the Starlink capacity around the globe will fill gaps in internet connectivity in remote places. SpaceX has planned multiple launches that will send satellites into orbit to support its Starlink network. Satellite-based internet doesn’t intend to displace the service provided by cell towers or fiber optic cables, but, rather, to play a role in the broader networks that lots of people use every day, adding more capacity and extending coverage. Equipment that’s capable of next-generation satellite connections is expensive, so Musk may announce a vision to invest in R&D that closes the digital divide.

NASA announced in November 2022 that it has modified its contract with SpaceX to further develop the Starship human landing system. Initially selected to develop a lunar lander capable of carrying astronauts between lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis III mission — marking humanity’s first return to the Moon since the Apollo program’s final mission in 1972 — SpaceX will now support a second human landing demonstration as part of NASA’s Artemis IV mission. What other expansions might Musk have in mind for Master Plan 3?

Musk has offered hints that The Boring Company will be included in Master Plan 3. Where might the next Boring Company project be?

It’s your turn: what visionary revelations will we hear from Musk on March 1? Note your ideas in the comments area below. Have fun!


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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack: https://carolynfortuna.substack.com/.

Carolyn Fortuna has 1252 posts and counting. See all posts by Carolyn Fortuna