The transportation industry is no stranger to wicked problems. And yesterday Tesla CEO Elon Musk added one more. Musk announced the second part of his Tesla Master Plan (Master Plan, part deux), where he described Tesla’s ambitious new endeavors - including a plan to build autonomous (self-driving) semi trucks.
If you haven’t been following Tesla over its 10 year history, they are an American up-start car company that has made good on each of its seemingly impossible promises. They built a fully electric vehicle that can travel from coast to coast, their Autopilot technology can steer the car within its lane, and they are gearing up for the production of the first ‘electric car for the masses’.
With all of Tesla's original goals accomplished, it was time to unveil the next phase of their growth plan, which includes the following statement:
"In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks 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.
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."
To this point, Tesla’s ability to outmaneuver the most established players in the automotive industry has been intriguing to watch - finally, an American startup that is revered around the world.
It’s fun to pull for the underdog. But with all of its success to date, it’s hard to still refer to Tesla as an underdog, and it’s even harder to discount their ambitions.
We all knew that our industry was going to change. Today, we have the feeling that it might happen just a little faster than we expected.