Home » Let’s Look Back At Tesla’s First Two Master Plans As the Company Gets Ready To Unveil Master Plan Three

Let’s Look Back At Tesla’s First Two Master Plans As the Company Gets Ready To Unveil Master Plan Three

Tesla Master Plan Topshot
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Another year, another Tesla Investor Day. On Mar. 1, Tesla’s throwing an event which normally follows a set formula: Talk about financials, show off an upcoming product or two, and generally put on a show. However, this year’s event is set to be a bit different, with Tesla unveiling its Master Plan 3. If you’re wondering what the first two master plans were, don’t worry. Time to throw things back almost 16 years to when kids were rocking Sidekicks, mortgage approval was fast and loose, and a little startup called Tesla Motors was working on its first electric car.

On Aug. 2, 2006, Elon Musk put a post on Tesla’s blog entitled The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me). After a bunch of math around the Roadster’s efficiency, he outlined a four-point plan to make Tesla a lasting automaker. Here are those four points:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

1. Build sports car

2. Use that money to build an affordable car

3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car

4. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Guess what? It mostly worked. Two years after the Master Plan was released, Tesla launched the Roadster, which paved the way for the Model S of 2012. Granted, Model S and affordable aren’t normally used in the same sentence these days unless you’re talking about miled-out shitboxes, but the 2012 Model S started at $57,400 and topped out at $87,400. That was roughly Mercedes-Benz E-Class money at the time.

Tesla Investor Day Model S 01

While the Roadster was a Lotus Elise with a battery pack, the Model S is a ground-up car that gave Tesla much of the expertise that went into the Model 3 of 2017. Cut to six years after the launch of the Model 3, and those cars are absolutely everywhere. Of course, high-margin crossovers are also in the mix, but the concept of going downmarket seemed to work for Tesla.

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Mind you, the fourth point in the original Master Plan wasn’t as successful as Tesla’s cars. Remember SolarCity, the solar company chaired by Musk? It was mired by debt, lawsuits, and allegations of faulty solar panel installations. In 2017, SolarCity was rolled into Tesla, but the problems didn’t end there. In 2019, Walmart sued Tesla claiming that “widespread, systemic negligence” had caused fires on the roofs of seven stores. If anything, SolarCity was an omen that Master Plan, Part Deux wouldn’t go so well.

Tesla investor day Model Y

The first part of the second Master Plan was to bring SolarCity under Tesla, and that ended up happening. Part of the second part also happened, Tesla did bring out a compact crossover (the Model Y) and has an electric semi truck being tried out by a handful of corporations. As for the Cybertruck, that coin’s still up in the air. We’ll see how it lands.

However, that’s about all that the second Master Plan got right. For instance, Musk’s plan for “high passenger-density urban transport” never happened. We haven’t seen anything about a Tesla bus, and that’s likely because Musk’s predictions of autonomy were wrong. Tesla never developed “a self-driving capability that is 10x safer than manual via massive fleet learning.” Autopilot is a Level 2 system, meaning that it’s no more autonomous than any car with adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assistance. While it’s engaged, you still have to drive, meaning you still need to pay attention to everything going on and be ready to intervene at a moment’s notice.

0x0 Model3 01

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Since FSD Beta is just an addition to Autopilot, it’s not fully autonomous either, meaning that Tesla has built exactly zero self-driving cars. What’s more, The Virginia Department of Transportation normalized Autopilot crash statistics with freeway crash statistics and found very little safety difference between Autopilot and normal active safety systems.

Mind you, it’s not just Musk who got autonomy wrong – many companies did. In 2016, Ford claimed it would offer high-volume autonomous ride-sharing by 2021. Instead, 2021 came and went, Ford pivoted away from robo-taxis, and Ford-backed Argo AI closed up shop in 2022. BMW also claimed it would launch an autonomous vehicle in 2021, but we’re yet to see autonomous BMWs in showrooms. Nissan claimed that driverless cars would be in showrooms by 2020, but they weren’t. The list of incorrect autonomous car predictions goes on and on.

0x0 Cybertruck 16

What makes Tesla different is that it actively sought consumer money for autonomous vehicle software that couldn’t be delivered as promised. Musk claimed that Teslas could “generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly lease or loan cost.” That hasn’t happened because autonomy isn’t right around the corner, no matter how many times that’s been promised over the past few years or how many somewhat dangerous driver assistance packages Tesla has sold to consumers. In fact, Reuters reports that Tesla is under investigation by the Department of Justice for claims relating to autonomy, which could result in criminal charges.

Now we’re back in the present day, as Tesla is set to unveil Master Plan 3 amid a flurry of lawsuits, recalls, and investigations. Musk claims that this new plan is “the path to a fully sustainable energy future for Earth,” but what could Tesla possibly do to dig itself out of its current hole? Here’s an idea: Focus on the product. Put autonomy on the back burner and work on getting cars and other products in customer hands. Put the Cybertruck into production, bring the new Roadster to market, refresh the Model 3 and Model Y, and work on a next-generation platform for affordable electrification. Maybe sprinkle in some power banks or new solar tech, and Tesla could end up with something similar to the original Master Plan. If substantial lineup revisions worked for Nissan in the wake of the Ghosn scandal, they could also work for Tesla.

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(Photo credits: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.)

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Major Malfunction
Major Malfunction
1 year ago

As a long time pickup owner who uses it as both a daily driver and everyday utility; I just cannot see the cybertruck being practical as anything for a fanboi showpiece.

I see a LOT of the rabid fans saying it will outsell the F-150, etc. But when I point out that backing up a trailer with a yoke steering wheel is going to get old REALLY quick. Or that the lack of actual door handles and instead these little “slots” that you press into are going not very “work” conducive when you are wearing gloves, especially if you accidently get goo jammed in there you didnt know you had on your gloves. Or that it’s basically rated at 3/4 ton pickup level but can’t hold a candle to my 2500 diesel’s performance numbers. Or that plenty of my truck owning friends in fleet vehicles live in apartment buildings or have to park in the street so where would these folks charge each night. Or that being a 3/4 ton pickup with no ability to 5th wheel. Or the really high sides of the bed where it would be an absolute PIA to be able to reach in and try to get something out of the bed. Or there are no physical knobs in the cab which again is a must for those using it as a work truck and dont want to take off gloves. Or that it doesnt even have an SAE tow rating to compare real world performance. Or that fixing any body damage with these stainless steel body panels is going to be RIDICULOUSLY expensive.

Need I go on why I really cannot see this being a big seller other than to the rabid flock?

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago

Time to throw things back almost 16 years to when kids were rocking Sidekicks, mortgage approval was fast and loose, and a little startup called Tesla Motors was working on its first electric car.

Hmmmmm…
Feb 27, 2023 – Aug. 2, 2006 < 16 years ?

Canadian math?
Is it still 2022 in Canada?

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago

I can’t help but wonder if the Cybertruck will be the modern Hughs H-4 Hercules? Build a few and proclaim, “There, I did it. Now leave me alone and don’t breathe my air.”

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago

Aside from all the other stuff to mention*, and boy is there ever a shit load of it, people keep saying that the current model S model three model X and model Y need some sort of update. I think that leaving them more or less alone at least from a visual standpoint and concentrating on incremental improvement is the way to go. I mean they look fine, the brand identity is strong for better or worse, and most car refreshes are flat out ugly.

*Elon is really giving Henry Ford competition for being a massive jerk, but I think H. Ford is still ahead by a wide margin.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

Yeah, you might want to look at what Melon’s been very openly tweeting the past couple of days. Much less the past year.

Even Henry Ford didn’t blast the quiet parts out of a megaphone six times a day and twice as much on Sunday. To say nothing of the ‘either you’re super hardcore 100 hours a week and sleeping at your desk or you’re fired.’

Andrew Bugenis
Andrew Bugenis
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Or fired anyway – forget which site posted about it but the Twitter engineer who boasted about sleeping at the offices was just fired over the weekend.

So, change that to, “You make me like you (through a weird quasi-human algorithm that nobody, least of all Musk, understands), or you’re fired.”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Bugenis

Brags about sleeping at your desk online. Of course you are getting fired. And he/she should. You used to hide the fact you were screwing the company over because you knew you would be fired. Now? Brag about and you are surprised you get fired?

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

“Even Henry Ford didn’t blast the quiet parts out of a megaphone six times a day and twice as much on Sunday.”

Ford did require his dealers to support and distribute his profoundly bigoted weekly “newspaper” year after year until the lawsuits finally caught up to him, so within the limits of available technology he did about as much as he could for as long as he could:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dearborn_Independent

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 year ago

Master Plan 3:

– Delay CyberTruck indefinitely after launching the concept before everyone else, Ford is already selling a competitor
– Insult current userbase and attacking woke culture
– Pander to uneducated/GOP to own the libs
– Go full Kanye and just rant about conspiracy theories without evidence
– Align with Putin, turn off Starlink in Ukraine

/r/nomoremusk

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

– pivot to 100% coal-rolling ICE Teslas because environmentalism is woke

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

That man alone has become a very convincing argument for “…have you considered the Porsche Taycan?”

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago

I’m going to be really bold in the following declaration:

Producing the Cybertruck would be a huge mistake.

Why? It’s going to be expensive as hell to build, it is in serious danger of not meeting multiple regulations – especially safety regulations – which would lead to incredibly costly redesigns. I cannot wait to see the crash tests. It’s going to be difficult to sell in most of the world because it’s so freaking huge.

It would be more profitable to shitcan it now.

Clark B
Clark B
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

I think you’re right. Despite what Musk says, I don’t think it’s going to be a volume seller. It’s going to cost more than anticipated, looks far too polarizing, and it’s going to be so late in the game that just about everyone else will have an EV truck on the market. I see the Cybertruck competing with the Hummer EV more than I do with the Lightning or any of the other domestic EV trucks.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

The Cyberflunk as it sits, is literally illegal pretty much everywhere. Period. Physics are a bitch. GM had to go on a weight cutting and plastic-replacement spree to get the Hummer EV’s weight legal. Meaning: under 10,001lbs.
A while back I did the math (here, no less,) showing that the Racisttruck, by very nature of it’s insistence on stainless steel and ridiculous range, cannot be road legal due to simple physics.

Plus their insistence on ‘infinite mass’ towing means nobody can operate it legally. DOT and FMCSA rules kick in hard at 10,001 lbs GVWR. That’s why the Hummer EV’s 9,063lbs (3,000lbs battery) with a GVWR of just 10,550lbs and a tow limit of 7,500lbs.
Well, the dipshits at Tesla filed an official claim of 14,000lbs towing with CARB in 2019, which means using the claimed payload (3,500lbs) they’re into minimum class B CDL at over 26,000lbs GVWR even if they come in 750lbs lighter than the Hummer EV.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

The Cybertruck is a total shitshow. And I love it for that. I definitely wouldn’t buy one though, if it ever does see production.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Yeah everyone slows down to look at an accident, noone volunteers to be in one. S/

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I’m not familiar with a lot of these regulations so that added context is valuable. When I look at it all I see are failures to meet crash test requirements, failure to meet pedestrian safety requirements, failure to hit weight targets, extremely difficult to handle production nightmares (like dealing with producing the bodywork)… If it’s too heavy for America how are they pretending this is going to fly anywhere else? The USA is easily the jurisdiction most likely to accept large and heavy vehicles.

There was also a rumor they were trying to get away with no airbag, which is hilarious if true. I desperately want to see some crash tests, how can they have crumple zones with those body panels? Is this just going to crack in half at the peak of the roof, which looks like the weakest part of the structure? How are occupants going to handle the forces?

Jason Hinton
Jason Hinton
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

Airbags are only required for vehicles 10,000 lbs and lighter. Most of the safety rules that apply to light duty vehicles do not apply to Class 3 vehicles and above.

The rules are here: 49 CFR § 571.208 – Standard No. 208; Occupant crash protection.

Jason Hinton
Jason Hinton
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

DOT rules kick in at 10,001 lbs – for commercial use. If you are using a cybertruck to hotshot loads across the country you have to keep logbooks and respect hours of operation. For someone towing their boat to the lake there is no difference between 10,000 and 10,001 pounds. Keep in under 26,001 and Tesla is good for the consumer market.

HOWEVER – there is a huge advantage to moving out of the light duty classification and into Class 4 and above. Vehicles 14,000 pounds and lighter qualify for a $7500 tax credit – if a whole bunch of conditions are met. Vehicles 14,001 pound and higher qualify for a tax credit equal to 30% of the vehicle with a $40,000 max. No manufacturing souring rules, no income caps, and no max MSRP.

JaredTheGeek
JaredTheGeek
1 year ago

Roadster was a Lotus Elise with a battery pack except it has a totally different drivetrain, body panels, aluminum tub, rear sub-frame, brakes, ABS system, HVAC and rear suspension.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

Except it didn’t have different body panels, different aluminum tub, different rear subframe, different ABS system, didn’t retune the front suspension, the rear suspension was only for added weight, the rear subframe was only modified to the minimum extent necessary, the brakes were only changed out for regen, Lotus did all of the chassis design and modification work, and Melon had absolutely fucking nothing to do with it.

121gwats
121gwats
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I mean, as an incredibly expensive prototype/first draft, its a great way to reduce cost. They did all the EV stuff, leave the rest for an established automaker who has manufacturing experience. One thing at a time to get the company off the ground. I know you’re just calling the other guy out, but these were the correct decisions for a startup.

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
1 year ago

>Focus on the product
Yeah but that’s hard. What if I just post dank may-mays on the website I own and force hundreds of millions of people to look at them?

Justin Davis
Justin Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Baron Usurper

Stolen dank may-mays, even.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Justin Davis

Stolen extremely racist dank may-mays, at that.

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