Elon Musk has been a busy man lately as he works to transition the world to renewable energy and sustainable transportation with the goal of decarbonizing the global economy to meet the challenge of climate change. To meet that goal, Tesla will need to address “high passenger-density urban transport” – and Musk just confirmed plans to create a fully autonomous electric Minibus using the Model X chassis.
In a blog post on July 20, Musk wrote about his vision for a self-driving electric minibus: “With the advent of autonomy, it will probably make sense to shrink the size of buses and transition the role of bus driver to that of fleet manager. Traffic congestion would improve due to increased passenger areal density by eliminating the center aisle and putting seats where there are currently entryways, and matching acceleration and braking to other vehicles, thus avoiding the inertial impedance to smooth traffic flow of traditional heavy buses. It would also take people all the way to their destination. Fixed summon buttons at existing bus stops would serve those who don’t have a phone. Design accommodates wheelchairs, strollers and bikes.”
Musk’s recent announcement responds to a rendering of what the minibus could look like by automobile news site Jalopnik. The Model X is a full-size crossover SUV with falcon wing doors for access to the second and third row seats. The vehicle includes a 90 kWh battery providing 257 miles of range. According to Musk, the Model X will be the safest SUV on the market based on Tesla’s own internal crash testing. The company is confident that when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts crash testing that Model X will receive the highest safety rating in every category.
In “Master Plan, Part Deux,” Musk said that the electric Tesla Minibus and also the electric Tesla Semi heavy-duty truck are in the early development stages and will likely be unveiled in 2017. Musk also described plans for an electric compact SUV and an electric pickup truck.