Tesla’s Master Plans for the future – Part I and II
Tesla’s product development serves as a primary example of the company’s creative capacity and initiative. In his Master Plan delineated on the Company’s website, Elon Musk outlines the Tesla’s main objectives from 2006 – 2026. 
Master Plan Part 1
To address the over-reliance on fossil fuels and global warming, Tesla Inc., seeks “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Musk and his colleagues plan to create “a vertically integrated company that builds electric vehicles, batteries to store the power, and solar panels to generate the power.” According to the Master Plan, Tesla built the Tesla Roadster, a luxury sports car, in order to use the resulting cash profits to build the luxury vehicles, the Model S and Model X. Currently, Tesla plans to use that money to build a more affordable car, the Model 3, all while providing its customers with zero-emission electric power generation products.
As the final component to the Master Plan, Tesla seeks to integrate renewable energy generation and storage into residential buildings. The company’s acquisition of SolarCity will allow for the widespread distribution of its sustainable energy products, including its solar panels, Powerwall and Powerpack batteries. The batteries will enable homes, businesses and utilities “to store sustainable and renewable energy, to manage power demand, provide backup power and increase grid resilience,” empowering the individual as his or her own utility.
In a joint venture with Panasonic Corporation and other strategic partners, Tesla Inc. signed an agreement in 2014 that laid out their cooperation on the construction of a large-scale battery manufacturing plant, known as the Gigafactory. Located in Reno, Nevada, the Gigafactory not only manufactures the individual lithium-ion battery cells but also assembles the immense packs that power a Model S or store energy in a customer’s garage. Although still under construction, the Gigafactory has produced limited quantities of Powerwalls and Powerpacks and will begin mass production of the lithium-ion battery cells in late 2017. As a result of its ability to control all aspects of manufacturing, Tesla has a head start incorporating new battery chemistries and technologies into the manufacturing process relative to its competitors. This competitive advantage allows Tesla to circumvent waiting for suppliers to develop the cells. Inside the Gigafactory, robots carry out most of the manufacturing while the engineers supervise from desks not far from the production line. Although heavily automated, the Gigafactory will employ approximately 6,500 people when in full production.
The Gigafactory’s rapid completion is imperative as Tesla plans to begin building the Model 3 sedan and producing half a million vehicles annually, both in 2018. To achieve this goal, Tesla must dramatically increase battery production to decrease costs. In a recent interview, Musk claims that the Gigafactory will produce batteries for significantly less cost “using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing process under one roof.” Furthermore, the Gigafactory will be powered by renewable energy sources to ensure the achievement of net zero emissions.
Master Plan “Part Deux”
In 2016, Musk released the second part to his Master Plan, which acknowledges the progress Tesla has made with a renewed focus on new product development. Most importantly, Musk intends to create self-driving cars that are ten times safer than conventional cars. In his Master Plan, he anticipates the needs of the customer long before R&D can deliver a finished product. This motivates Tesla engineers to develop the necessary software as quickly as possible. Although the technology software is not yet complete, Tesla has already begun installing the hardware in its vehicles. While this decision could jeopardize the company’s strong financial standing, as the software may never be developed, it is indicative of the ingenuity and risk-seeking nature that characterizes Tesla’s innovative process.
In addition to self-driving capabilities, Tesla seeks to transform car-ownership. If Tesla is successful in realizing the fully autonomous vehicle, an individual could contract out his or her car to “make money for you when [he or she isn’t] using it”. The car would act as a taxi when not in use by its owner, and in effect, offset the overall cost of the vehicle without sacrificing quality. These societal mentality shifts — on how we use and think about public and private transportation– are some of the most innovative aspects about Tesla’s product development. They understand the needs of the customer today but also anticipate the willingness in younger generations to share modes of transport.
Overall, many products Tesla hopes to make in the coming years demonstrate the company’s creativity. The Master Plan itself relays a creative vision while demanding implementation within certain constraints. There are clear, achievable goals for very challenging tasks, that give Tesla the necessary framework to design and manufacture breakout products in sustainable energy.
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