July 29, 2021

Did Elon Musk keep his promises?

In July 2016, Elon Musk presented his Master Plan 2, a strategic plan spread over a period of ten years. Halfway through this second phase, it’s time to take stock of what has been accomplished by Tesla.

At Tesla, strategic plans take the form of a “Master Plan”. Spread over a decade, they define a series of objectives intended to allow the firm to enter a new dimension. Tesla’s first Master Plan ran from 2006 to 2016. It featured the launch of a less elite and more accessible first production vehicle than the first-generation Roadster. It was this part of the plan that brought the Tesla Model S to life, which marked the automaker’s debut in the mass-produced car market. The company also improved its position in the market with a first SUV, the Model X. The rest of the plan mainly included points related to energy and batteries. It was in July 2016 that the manufacturer announced its second Master Plan. What objectives have been achieved? What remains to be done? Five years from the deadline, we take stock!

Electric cars for everyone

The high-end Model S and Model X had one goal, according to Musk, that of financing the manufacture of a more accessible model. It was the cornerstone of Part 2 of the Master Plan, respected with the arrival of the Tesla Model 3. Today, one of the best-selling electric cars in France, the Californian sedan starts at less than 45,000 euros. bonus.

In addition to an entry-level model, the Master Plan promised an SUV and a pick-up, both electric obviously. Expected at the end of 2021 in Europe, the Model Y began its marketing in 2020 on the American market. Announced by the Cybertruck, the electric pick-up should be industrialized from 2022. In terms of vehicles, Tesla therefore seems to stick to its CEO’s plan.

Musk had also spoken of a heavyweight. The Tesla Semi will also arrive before the end of the Master Plan, when the new battery cells will be ready. As a bonus, Tesla could present an electric compact to have a real entry level.

Tesla Model S Model 3 Model X Model Y Superchargers

Gigafactory: An industrialization plan for Tesla factories

On the industrial side, this Master Plan 2 planned to speed up production, in particular thanks to the Model 3. “What is really important for a sustainable future is to be able to speed up production as quickly as possible”, Musk wrote five years ago.

While it only had the California site of Fremont in its infancy, the brand now has other Gigafactory. Dedicated to the manufacture of cells, the one in Reno (Nevada) was launched in 2017. Dedicated to the production of photovoltaic cells, the Gigafactory in New York opened its doors the same year while that in Shanghai, which manufactures the Model 3 and Model Y, started in early 2019. Two other sites are under construction. Located on the outskirts of Berlin, the first will be launched by the end of 2021 and will serve the production of Model 3 and Y for the European market. Based in Austin, Texas, the second will produce the Semi, Cybertruck and the next generation Roadster.

In terms of industrial processes, Tesla has invested heavily to simplify and optimize its manufacturing. The Model Y thus receives a rear part made in one piece, thanks to a hydraulic press adapted to this enormous molding. The Cybertruck will have an 8,000 ton hydraulic press that is unique in the world.

Tesla Cybertruck Elon Musk chantier Gigafactory Texas

When will Tesla’s fully autonomous car arrive?

The autonomous car was one of the subjects on which Elon Musk was the most pessimistic… and with good reason! Without denying the enormous progress in this area, the car running without human intervention is still a long way off.

The stakes are high for manufacturers, and Musk sees it as a real subject of road safety. The reports of the American transport authority (NHTSA) confirm in any case the benefits of Autopilot.

But the billionaire already feared in 2016 that it would be complicated to develop the software on which Autopilot depends. Sensors, cameras, lidars… according to him, the equipment was not difficult to develop. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to develop a system capable of using this material to drive as well as a human. This is the reason why Full Self Driving is still long overdue.

If Musk would already like to offer a level 4 or 5 of autonomy, allowing the vehicle to move on its own, the reality is different. The software development rate is difficult to predict, and the brand itself confirms that its system only has level 2 autonomy so far.

Musk further believes that even if the system were finished, it would have to accumulate 10 billion kilometers for the NHTSA to grant him a homologation. Tesla does not communicate the exact numbers traveled by the Autopilot. But counting those we know and the average rolling progress, it would take at least five more years to reach the figure Musk cites.

Tesla is making giant strides and does not want to slow down on the autonomous car, which its competitor in the field, Waymo, considers counterproductive. But the work is still colossal and the manufacturer could miss the deadline of the current Master Plan.

Musk hoped the self-driving car would allow his customers to rent their cars when they’re not using it. An electric and autonomous carsharing system that would allow Tesla owners to earn money. This vision of the American billionaire was accompanied by that of the Robotaxis fleets, driverless VTCs. In both cases, the delay accumulated by Full Self Driving will also delay these other projects.

Is Tesla moving ahead as planned on its industrial plan?

Overall, the plan put in place by Elon Musk is very ambitious, which explains some difficulties. It is obviously in the development of technologies that progress is the most complex to achieve.

Operationally, and despite Musk’s sometimes disproportionate ambitions, Tesla is making clear progress. The manufacturer’s industrial tool is ramping up and the fleet is growing, both in terms of models and sales volumes.

In summary :

  • In the pure electric car realm, Tesla is up to its targets and appears to be able to complete what Musk has planned by 2026.
  • On the industrial side, the firm is also on schedule. The number of factories is satisfactory, and production will continue to increase.
  • On the autonomous car, the results are more mixed. If the technologies are in clear progress, their exploitation leaves much to be desired and the delay is piling up.

Will Tesla manage to complete his Master Plan on time? See you in June 2026 to find out and learn more about Elon Musk’s ambitions for the third phase of the plan!