Elon Musk Details Tesla’s Semi-Truck, Minibus Plans
Automaker looks to expand its EV and autonomous vehicle network into other modes of transportationby Kirby Garlitos, on
Tesla has just released its second quarter earnings and while there were plenty of relevant details to go radon from CEO Elon Musk’s investor call, one of the more significant pieces of information to come from the call involved Tesla’s plans for an electric semi truck and minibus, including an estimated timetable to have both vehicles unveiled in the “early to mid 2017.”
Musk himself admitted that Tesla’s ideas for these two vehicles are still the equivalent of broad strokes, which means that it still doesn’t have a fleshed-out plan as far as production of the two models are concerned. A lot of the questions that even Tesla is asking itself will likely be answered when prototype versions of the truck and the minibus are unveiled. To the company’s credit, it’s taking these projects very seriously. With the semi-truck, Tesla has tapped former Model S program director, Jerome Guilen to lead the project. In addition to his familiarity with Tesla’s engineering and development methods, Guillen also has a background in developing trucks, having done so in the past as an engineer at Daimler’s truck division and as the man at the helm in the development of the Freightliner Cascadia truck.
As for the minibus plans, Musk addressed those separately when he responded to a rendering of a Volkswagen-inspired minibus that was pieced together by Jalopnik. Turns out, Tesla isn’t necessarily planning to build a public transport in the traditional sense, but a modern electric version of Volkswagen’s Type II Microbus.
Tesla’s goal, it seems, is to have these options available in the event that electric or autonomous technologies become more widely accepted throughout the industry. The truck industry, in particular, is reportedly been considering a shift to EV models for the future. Having fleshed out plans that includes production timetables for both models would give Tesla the advantage of offering something that no other automaker has at this point. It’s an ambitious goal to have considering that these plans were only made public when Musk announced the company’s updated Master Plan last month. Then again, it would be unbecoming of Tesla if its goals aren’t ambitious to begin with.
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Why it matters
When Elon Musk first mentioned Tesla’s plans to build all-electric semi trucks and minibuses, my first inclination was that Tesla is really taking its position as an automotive innovator very seriously. I didn’t think much of them after that because I wanted to know more about what the company had in mind for both vehicles. But once the details started sprinkling out, it became a little clearer even for me that Tesla isn’t the type to make these plans public and not live up to them, or at least try to.
So where does this lead us? I’m still not sure about that part, but I am convinced now more than I was before that Tesla is definitely serious about giving us both vehicles in the next few years. The all-electric semi truck is interesting because it could really pave the way to changing the entire truck industry so it evolves into something that will be powered by electric and autonomous technologies. Can you imagine seeing a truck being driven autonomously? That’s one of Tesla’s goals. It’s still going to need a lot of work, but the company has never shown itself to be the kind of company that starts a project and doesn’t end up finishing it.
Granted, we have to be realistic about these things too, especially when you consider the spate of problems that Tesla’s Autopilot system has found itself in recent months. I think the only thing that Tesla needs right now is time to develop these cars. Give the company that and it’s going to develop something that’s going to capture the industry’s attention. That’s the bar Elon Musk and company have raised for itself and as shocking as it was to read about Tesla’s plans over the next decade, it’s going to be nothing compared to what the reaction is going to be if Tesla does actually end up developing a fully functioning electric and autonomous semi truck and minibus.
Source: The Verge