The man behind SpaceX outlined some very ambitious plans for his energy and vehicle company.
The next big goal for Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) is for a car with its Auto Pilot to take a fully autonomous cross-country road trip from a parking lot in LA to a parking lot in New York, Elon Musk said at a TED talk in Vancouver, British Columbia. He thinks that goal can be achieved by the end of the year.
Musk thinks that Tesla is about two years away from building a fully autonomous car. If he’s right Tesla is ahead of some of its rivals. Ford CEO Mark Fields has said his company will market an autonomous vehicle by 2021.
Tesla’s goal is to develop a car that is not likely to crash in a thousand lifetimes, Musk revealed.
“The key threshold for autonomy is how much better does autonomy need to be than a person before you can rely on it,” Musk said.
Autonomous Cars will make Vehicle Ownership Free
Self-driving cars might make auto ownership free in the future, Musk predicted. This will occur because autonomous cars will be able to haul paying fares while the owner is not driving them.
“There will be a shared autonomy fleet where you can share your car,” Musk said. Share your car means renting it out for money, which would make everybody into Uber. Drivers will have a choice of not sharing the car, or only sharing it with certain people.
Musk has Driven the Tesla Semi Truck
Tesla apparently has a working model of its electric semi-truck. Musk said he has driven the electric big-rig but hinted he does not have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).
“I drove it around the parking lot,” Musk said. “I was like ‘This is crazy.’ Driving this giant truck and sort of making these mad maneuvers.”
“This is a heavy duty long range semi-truck,” Musk said. “It’s like the highest weight capability.”
“With the Tesla semi we want to show that an electric truck actually can out torque any diesel semi,” Musk said. “If you had a tug of war competition the Tesla semi will tug the diesel semi uphill.”
Torque; as viewers of Ford pickup commercials know, is a measure of a truck’s hauling or towing power. If Musk is correct the Tesla semi-truck will be more powerful than diesels. That’ll be a huge selling point if Tesla starts marketing an electric pickup truck.
Musk wants to build 100 Gigafactories
Elon’s ambitions are certainly great he wants to build 100 gigafactories to get the world to replace fossil fuels with electricity.
Tesla plans to announce construction of two to four gigafactories this year, Musk said. He did not reveal where those battery plants will be but internet speculation has focused on Finland and the American Midwest.
Musk himself tweeted about building a gigafactory in the Tri-state area which reporters took to be West Virginia, Ohio or Kentucky, a month or so ago. It looks as if Musk’s dream of an electric powered world might come true.