Elon Musk yesterday hinted at the possibility of Tesla taking some steps towards the introduction of an urban transport vehicle in their fleet, or more simply, a Tesla electric bus. The comment from the Tesla CEO came as part of a reply to a tweet, which was praising the way Tesla is using its vehicle fleet as part of the transport in the Loop system for The Boring Company. He initially mentioned that it is basically just Teslas running in a tunnel. He then went on to state that Tesla might make a “denser” Tesla if demand increases for the Loop system. The comment was later deleted for unknown reasons.
Elon Musk Hints At Tesla Bus In Tweet But Immediately Deletes It
Musk also stated that Tesla has the option of just getting more tunnels made from The Boring Company, as there is no practical limit to the number of tunnels that can be built. Of course, this is easier to do rather than designing an entirely new vehicle specifically for the Loop system. But, then again, there have been comments from the CEO in the past which makes experts in the industry wonder if Tesla is actually working on an electric bus.
The Loop Transportation System
A Loop is a high-speed underground transportation system capable of transporting passengers from one place to another using autonomous electric vehicles. The project has been started in Las Vegas, running under the ground from Fremont Street all the way to the McCarran Airport, a distance that normally takes upto 30 minutes to cover in peak hours. The Loop will be capable of covering this distance in just 3 minutes. This unique transportation system will be using Tesla Model 3 and Model Y cars with their autonomous features to reach speeds of 155 mph (250 kph) for this purpose. This underground tunnel runs below some of the most attractive places for tourists in the Sin City, like the Bellagio, MGM, Luxor, Harrah’s, and Flamingo hotels.
We simplified this a lot. It’s basically just Teslas in tunnels at this point, which is way more profound than it sounds.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2020
The Boring Company announced at the beginning of this project that the Loop system will revolutionize the way people look at and use the public transportation system. With various advantages like low surface noise and vibrations, no lanes and barriers, and a weatherproof system that is comfortable and convenient for passengers, the company is looking to extend these projects to other parts of the country too. The system, when open, will be very easy to access for tourists, as they can get to the station level through an escalator, summon a car through the web app, and hop in.
Tesla Electric Bus Hints
The Boring Company has applied for permits recently to start expanding the Loop system to the rest of the city of Las Vegas. Currently, it will be opening only for the Las Vegas Convention Center. With respect to the vehicles used in the Loop, the official narrative is that they will be using Model 3s and Model Ys. However, they keep using the images that show a larger vehicle, built specifically as part of an urban transportation system.
A follow-up tweet asked Musk if Tesla has any plans for a higher passenger density vehicle in the future, which is when he replied that they will make a dense Tesla if it matters. Of course, as mentioned earlier, just digging more tunnels makes more sense than building a new vehicle from scratch. Will it be a case of building one from scratch though?
The “Super-Secret” Master Plan for Tesla
Back in 2006, Musk had unveiled his master plan for the Californian automaker. The main points mentioned at that time were:
- Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive.
- Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price.
- Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car, and…
- Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.
This part of the plan was fulfilled in the next 10 years, as Tesla launched the Roadster, Model S, Model 3, and Tesla Energy. And so, he came up with the second half of this master plan in 2016 – expand solar and energy storage, launch a future compact SUV, and a different kind of pick-up truck. You got it – solar roof tiles, new energy storage products like the Megapack, the Model Y, and the futuristic Cybertruck.
One part of this plan also included heavy-duty trucks and a high passenger-density urban transport. Musk mentioned back then that both vehicles were under development and would be unveiled eventually. The Semi did find its way onto the stage, but the “high passenger-density urban transport” was never introduced. There were reports that this ‘mini-bus’ would be based on the design of the Model 3, and could have a seating capacity of 12 to 16 passengers.
Tesla definitely won’t have to start the design of an electric bus from scratch, and with the scope of the projects of The Boring Company increasing, the demand might increase too. It makes sense for Tesla to have a vehicle in their lineup dedicated for this purpose. Why Musk deleted the comment though, remains a mystery. Maybe it is just part of an announcement for some other day.