Elon Musk, the man who transformed electric cars with the Telsa, has set his sites on a new goal – nothing less than transforming our cities.
Under a recently revealed strategic plan, Tesla will morph from an electric car company into a sustainable transportation company, and Musk will attempt to bring the same change to solar energy that he brought to electric cars.
Musk hopes to dramatically reduce urban air pollution and congestion by introducing electric semi-trucks and buses, both of which could debut as early as 2017. The plan notes that a huge reduction in emissions could be achieved if delivery companies and local governments replaced their gas-powered fleets with electric vehicles.
The plan also calls for Tesla to create a program to allow owners of the high-end electric cars to share use of their vehicles with others. Owners would receive unspecified incentives for doing so. In cities where there aren’t a lot of Tesla owners, the company will establish a car-sharing fleet.
Tesla will aggressively expand its work on self-driving vehicles, which Musk believes are key to reducing traffic fatalities. Despite the well-publicized recent death of a Tesla driver while using his car’s Autopilot system, statistics indicate that autonomous cars are steadily getting safer than human-driven vehicles.
In the world envisioned by Musk, city dwellers will ride these various forms of electric transportation home to solar-powered houses. Solar, he contends, hasn’t taken hold for a variety of reasons, including complexity of use and the unattractive look of rooftop solar panels. His objective is simple but huge:
“Create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app.”
In other words, make solar power as cool and desirable as Tesla made electric cars.
Musk took a first step in this initiative with the 2015 debut of the Tesla Powerwall, a state of the art battery designed to store solar energy to power homes and re-charge Tesla cars. He recently announced plans to buy SolarCity, the largest U.S. provider of solar energy systems. Musk is already a major shareholder and chairman of the company.
This is an ambitious vision, but Musk has a track record of achieving even the most aggressive goals. Tesla’s stock price plunged nearly 10% on the late June news of the SolarCity acquisition, but has since fully recovered to its pre-acquisition trading range. After taking a breath, the market is again suggesting that it’s difficult to bet against Elon Musk when it comes to shaping the future.