What future projects can we anticipate from Tesla?
Tesla is definitely more than just a car company. While electric cars are still the primary focus at Tesla, Elon Musk and his talented team have been quietly (and not so quietly) expanding into other industries.
Above: A look at Tesla's Model X and Model 3 (Twitter: Tesla Greater China)
Some of these initiatives are directly related to cars like the company's autonomous driving efforts and car insurance plans. Meanwhile, other initiatives are more closely related to Tesla's overarching mission surrounding climate change including solar and stationary battery storage.
In any event, part of the reason that Tesla is such a fascinating company to follow is its ability to innovate (and disrupt) in so many different domains. So what other industries, projects, or sectors might Tesla choose to enter and, subsequently, make some waves?
Well, let's take a moment to speculate on a few possible future endeavors that could prove to be attractive to Tesla downstream.
EV Powertrain Supplier
Actually... Tesla has already done this — it turns out that Tesla previously supplied electric vehicle powertrains for the Toyota RAV4 EV, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell, and B250e. These partnerships were executed back when Tesla was still in its early years. Nevertheless, it does set up some precedence that the company is open to supplying its parts.
Above: Years ago, Mercedes' B-class 'Electric Drive' was actually powered by Tesla (YouTube: CNN Business)
Tesla has been working magic on its powertrains, especially when it comes to range, so we would imagine that there would be companies that would love to have a Tesla powertrain in their cars. If Tesla has the ability to produce a surplus of EV components and other automakers are interested, perhaps we might see Tesla supplying EV components once again.
Self-driving system supplier
Could Tesla's Autopilot system eventually find its way into non-Tesla cars? If Tesla is able to be the first to reach full autonomy, who knows? However, they'd have to beat out fully-dedicated AV companies such as Waymo, ArgoAI, or Light’s Clarity — companies that legacy automakers are waiting on so they can implement these third-party systems into their own fleet.
That said, if Tesla can provide a state-of-the-art autonomous driving setup, is there a play for them to license out Autopilot? Well, it's certainly a bit more complicated than simply providing physical parts given that an autonomous driving system would need software too. That sort of integration could get complicated with other automakers. Also, Tesla’s FSD is one of their ‘secret recipes’ so it’s unlikely they would share with others. That said, Elon Musk said he's open to the idea.
With Tesla's blockbuster Battery Day in the rear view mirror, we learned that the Silicon Valley automaker wants to have more control over the entire battery production process. In addition to announcing their new battery tech and form factor (the all-new 4680 cell), Tesla also announced that they would be building their own battery production facilities.
During their presentation, Tesla stressed that the world is going to need much greater battery production efforts to make the full transition from gas guzzlers to electric cars. As such, Tesla wants to increase their involvement to allow themselves to (hopefully) reach 100 GWh of batteries by 2022 and 3000 GWh (3 TWh) by 2030.
If Tesla accomplishes its goal of spinning out millions of batteries using a cheaper, more efficient process — who’s to say that the company couldn’t become a supplier of batteries to others? Of course, this is assuming Tesla has a surplus of batteries. Right now, battery demand continues to be a major obstacle for the entire EV industry. Therefore, I doubt in the future that Tesla would go through the additional effort of providing more batteries for others. But, with Elon, you never know.
Tesla’s efforts with their Powerwall and Solar products has given them a foothold in the home development industry. With Tesla’s initiatives to improve their energy storage and solar offerings, it wouldn’t surprise us if the company eventually intends to expand their home services and allow customers to upgrade further and create a fully-integrated smart home.
I’m dying to do super efficient, quiet home HVAC with HEPA & water distillation. It’s weird, but I really want to do it.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2020
Twitter: Elon Musk
During Musk’s appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience last year, we caught a glimpse of how this might play out. During the interview, Musk talked about improving the experience and efficiency of home HVAC systems. Musk would later go on to Twitter (see above) to emphasize his desire to improve this set-up for homes.
Elon Musk once said: “A supersonic vertical-takeoff-and-landing electric jet would be interesting to do at some point, I think. But my head would definitely explode if I tried to do that right now.”
While an entirely unrealistic goal (and probably more in the realm of SpaceX) — this is still coming from the man who sent his own car into space, so I can’t 100% doubt Musk’s vibe here. At the very least, if Tesla or SpaceX doesn't make electric jets themselves, maybe they will be the one’s providing the batteries for electric jets in the next decade.
An earlier version of this article appeared on EVBite. EVBite is an electric vehicle specific news site dedicated to keeping consumers up-to-date on any developments in the ever-expanding EV landscape. You can also listen to more of their thoughts on their DriEV Podcast.