Tesla has most definitely expanded outside the scope of being just an automotive car company. While electric cars are still the main focus of Tesla, they have been putting serious efforts into other industries. Things that are either directly related to automobiles like their autonomous driving efforts and car insurance plans, to things tertiarily related to EVs like solar panels for homes. It’s part of the reason that Tesla is such a fun company to follow and one that can push innovation with them keeping outsourcing to a minimum. For a while now the community has been breaking down exactly how many companies Tesla really is and it can range anywhere from 10 to over 20. The automaker likes to expand not only its established businesses but also into new territories. We thought it would be fun to speculate on what future endeavors (some more serious than others) Tesla could take.
With Battery Day recently passing we learned that Tesla wants to have more control of the battery production process. On top of announcing their new battery technology and format (the 4680 cell), Tesla also announced that they would be building facilities for lithium and cathode production. During its presentation, Tesla stressed the point that they and the world is going to need much higher battery production if we want to fully transition. As such Tesla wants to be more involved with the battery production process using new techniques that could hopefully speed the process up and allow them to reach 100 GWh of batteries by 2022 and 3000 GWh (3 TWh) by 2030.
If Tesla accomplishes its goal of creating batteries using its cheaper and more efficient process then Tesla could become a leader in battery production with adequate factory buildouts. If Tesla is able to create a surplus of batteries then who’s to say that Tesla couldn’t be a supplier of batteries to other brands or startups. Of course, this is in a world where Tesla has a surplus of batteries. If they can’t set up a good enough battery production network or if demand just continues to be outlandish then I doubt Tesla would go through the effort of providing batteries for others.
An even more wild idea to throw out in the ether would be Tesla producing batteries that aren’t for electric vehicles. While the chances of Tesla-branded AA batteries are low given the trend of electronics having rechargeable batteries, someone has to make those batteries. Once again, it’s a silly thought, but if Tesla can do something special with their battery production then maybe they can become a top-tier provider of batteries from cars to remotes.
EV & Autonomy Supplier
One of the least preposterous ideas since Tesla had already done it. Tesla has previously supplied batteries and powertrain to the Toyota RAV4 EV, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell, and B250e. These partnerships were done back when Tesla was still trying to stay afloat, but it does set a precedence that the company is open to supplying its parts. 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 is able to produce a surplus of EV components then we can see Tesla supplying parts in the future.
This extends to their Autopilot system. If Tesla is able to be the first to reach full autonomous driving then they would have beat out fully dedicated AV companies such as Waymo, ArgoAI, or Light’s Clarity, companies that some automakers are waiting on so that they can implement their systems in their cars. But if Tesla is able to provide a working system that doesn’t even require LIDAR is there a play for them to license out their Autopilot? It’s certainly a bit more complicated than just providing motors given that an autonomous driving system would need software upkeep from Tesla and that integration could get complicated with other automakers. Also, Tesla’s FSD has been one of their ‘secret sauces’ so it’s unlikely they would share it with others, but who knows maybe some day.
The Tesla Semi would be the first step towards Tesla having a focus in the commercial vehicle segment. The Semi hasn’t exactly started volume production so I am hesitant that the march has started, but the potential is there. We can imagine that once Tesla continues to expand its production capacity then we might see some commercial fleet vehicles.
One popular emerging vehicle segment are electric vans to deal with last-mile deliveries. Nissan has one, while Rivian, Ford, and GM have announced electric vans of their own. There were hints a few years ago that we might see a partnership with Mercedes to bring an electric van, but nothing has transpired since. Still, if Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the electrification of the world, then the highly polluted commercial sector can’t be ignored. They just need to get this Semi out to get the ball rolling.
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 the man that fully committed to an April Fool’s joke and gave us Teslaquila. It’s also the same guy 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) themselves won’t make the electric jets, then maybe they will be the one’s providing the batteries for electric jets in the next decade.
Tesla Smart Home and Equipment
Tesla’s efforts with their Powerwall and Solar Roof has given them a foothold in the home development industry. With Tesla’s efforts to improve their home energy storage and solar panel offerings, it wouldn’t surprise us if Tesla eventually intends to expand their home services and allow customers to make their home more smart.
During Musk’s appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience last year, we caught a glimpse at where the expansion of Tesla’s home services might go. During the interview Musk talked about how he feels that there is room for improvements in experience and efficiency of home HVAC systems. Musk would later go on to Twitter to once again talk about his want to improve homes’ air conditioning systems.
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
It certainly seems like Musk is interested into continuing to expand the home energy portion of Tesla.
One of the phrases that Elon Musk likes to drop is about the “machine that builds the machine”. In other words, the first product that Tesla ever builds is the factory that builds the cars/batteries/solar panels that we use.
The factory is the product
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 11, 2021
Tesla has placed great importance on its manufacturing capabilities and we are currently seeing it on display. Tesla is in the midst of three simultaneous car factory constructions and a pilot factory for their new batteries. These factories are able to be brought online rather quickly and aside from some quality control, they’re are able to produce working products.
So what if the process of creating factories is another business for Tesla? It seems that their experience will soon not be strictly limited to car production as they are going to build a lithium and cathode plant in the future. With the ultimate goal of Musk being to establish humanity on Mars, we are going to need some sort of production facilities to sustain life on the red planet, could all this experience in factory building just be the first step for building Mars production facilities?
All we’re saying is if Apple and Sony can go ahead and make a car, why can’t Tesla step on their turf and make a phone?
This of course is the least serious consideration on this list, but it is fun to imagine what a phone designed by Tesla would look like. Given Musk’s affinity for security with his recent comments to switch from WhatsApp to Signal due to privacy concerns, we imagine that the phone might be designed around privacy and security first and foremost. Perhaps it could be equipped with little air thrusters that can guide the phone back to its wireless charger just like the Falcon9’s boosters return back to Earth, who knows.
Tesla already has designed their own chip and has a lot of effort in software development so we are already halfway there. It’s not entirely impossible.
What would you like in your Tesla phone and what other industries do you think Tesla will/should break into?