Not satisfied with just losing gobs of money on each car that Tesla builds, CEO Elon Musk just revealed his “Master Plan” to “try to take over the world” — a plan that seemed so farfetched, the stock crashed by 3.5 percent
The grandiosity of Musk’s latest pronouncements sounds like an episode from Steven Spielberg’s Pinky and the Brain, about two genetically enhanced laboratory mice that reside in a cage in the Acme Labs research center. With Brain as an egotistical genius and Pinky is happy-go-lucky incompetent, each shows featured the “Brain” scheming to “try to take over the world,” which ultimately fails due to the impossibility of Brain’s plan.
Unveiling what Elon Musk calls “Master Plan, Part Deux” to “guide the company into the next decade,” he promised to extend its electric vehicle range to “cover the major forms of terrestrial transport,” by merging energy and transportation with 7 key elements:
- Tesla solar — Musk defended Tesla’s $2.86 billion bid for Musk’s near-insolvent SolarCity Corp, which Wall Street analysts deride as a risky financial move, because “that just works.” He did not comment on the fact that Tesla’s supposed 5-million-square-foot “Gigafactory” only measurers 800,000 square feet so far;
- Tesla Semi — Jerome Guillen, who joined Tesla from Daimler in 2010 and oversaw the Tesla’s Model S sedan project, is developing “Tesla Semi,” which will build heavy freight trucks to haul cargo in 2017;
- Self-driving mini buses — Urban public transportation vehicles in 2017;
- Model Y— Moving to a 6-car line-up that includes a Model 3 pick-up truck frame;
- Factory as a Product — Tesla marketing its proprietary factory “physics” as intellectual property that can increase manufacturing efficiency by 500-100 percent through “the machine that makes the machine;”
- Autopilot and Self-Driving cars — Despite NHTSA and SEC Investigations regarding a Tesla Autopilot fatality, Musk claims that with 3 billion worldwide miles of autopilot experience, Tesla is half ay to a self-driving car that would be 10 times safer than a human operator;
- Tesla Mobility — Beating Uber in the ride-sharing business by allowing Tesla vehicle owners to turn their cars into self-driving taxis when they are not being used.
Analysts are skeptical about Tesla’s ability to add even more products to its lineup, given its history of product delays and cash burn. Tesla has bid $2.86 billion to buy SolarCity even as the electric-car maker has more long-term debt — $2.5 billion — than its $1.4 billion in cash and equivalents.
Like the Brain, Elon Musk may be a genius — or he may just be a good promoter who has received $4.9 billion in government subsidies.
Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Autotrader.com Inc. commented to Bloomberg after reviewing the “Master Plan”: “As is typical, Elon Musk has laid out a grandiose plan for the future with no time frames and few specifics, and no mention of how and when Tesla will be profitable.”