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Tesla Pickup, Compact SUV all Part of Elon Musk’s New Master Plan

Tesla Building Circa March 2015

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s vision for his company’s future covers all the automotive bases, from personal vehicles to commercial trucks and transit fleets.

In a blog post on Tesla’s website, Musk spelled out the steps of his “Master Plan, Part Deux” — a long-term update of his previous decade-long business plan. With the Model 3 on the way in late 2017, the old plan has come to an end, so the company’s founder is looking for other things to power with electricity.

Tesla has big plans to partner with SolarCity on solar energy, but the company is an automaker first and foremost. With this in mind, the company plans to plug the holes in its lineup, offering a new small SUV and a pickup to cover remaining market segments.

Musk didn’t provide a timeline for the future vehicles, which isn’t surprising. Getting the Model 3 into production and clearing its huge reservation list will keep the company busy for at least the next two years. Design work might go on in the background.

The plan goes further than just cars and trucks, with heavy-duty trucks and an urban transit system being another goal.

“Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year,” Musk wrote. “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.”

As for the transit system, Musk fleshed out a vision he first mentioned at a Norwegian transportation summit in April:

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. Traffic congestion would improve due to increased passenger areal density by eliminating the center aisle and putting seats where there are currently entryways, and matching acceleration and braking to other vehicles, thus avoiding the inertial impedance to smooth traffic flow of traditional heavy buses. It would also take people all the way to their destination.

Musk said he plans to continue development of the Autopilot system, moving it from a semi-autonomous driving aid to a fully autonomous system — the kind that would allow an occupant to sleep or read a book. His goal is to offer a system that’s 10 times safer (per miles driven) than the fleet average.

The CEO shot back at critics who want the current Autopilot system removed from Tesla vehicles. As he’s done before, Musk pointed out the number of miles driven on Autopilot and the many updates to the system.

“It would no more make sense to disable Tesla’s Autopilot, as some have called for, than it would to disable autopilot in aircraft, after which our system is named.”

Autonomous driving would allow Tesla to roll out a planned ride-hailing service, which would use privately owned vehicles as the fleet. Owners could earn money to counter the cost of the vehicles, Musk claimed, which is a dream come true for people who wish their car would pay for itself.

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