Pretty early into Elon Musk’s ownership of Tesla he has had dreams of providing autopilot to customers. From October 2014 certain vehicles had hardware that automated some steering, braking and acceleration. The software is not active, but it is dubbed ‘Autopilot’. The following year greater functionality is introduced.
At the start of 2016 Mr Musk states Autopilot is probably better than a human driver. A few days later a Tesla owner is killed when their vehicle crashes into another vehicle. The family state Autopilot was in use at the time
A few months after the first US citizen dies while using Autopilot. This owner had previously made videos of the feature, one of which Mr Musk highlighted on his Twitter profile.
In October 2016 Tesla states all new vehicles it produces going forward “will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver”
, provided buyers pay a combines $8,000 fee.
A month later a marketing video is published on the Tesla website that states the vehicle is driving with no intervention from the ‘driver’ seated in the passenger seat. A lawsuit is started alleging the video is misleading and in 2018 Tesla settles for $5.4 million.
In March 2018 another US citizen is killed while Autopilot is in use. The next month in Tokyo
a pedestrian is killed while Autopilot is in use.
In May 2019 an update is released, and Consumer Reports tests the feature. It finds safety issues with the update and headlines its report “Tesla’s updated Navigate on Autopilot requires significant driver intervention”
. At this point just under three years have passed since Tesla’s statement on full self-driving capability.
In December 2019 another person is killed with an investigation centring on Autopilot involvement. The NTSB states driver overreliance on Autopilot has led to crashes and deaths.
In July 2020 a German court states Tesla has misled about Autopilots current and future capabilities. The next month a couple are killed after their Tesla drives off a highway while Autopilot is in use.
Four years later Tesla increases the ‘Full-self driving capability” cost from $8,000 to $10,000. It can be argued in that time no Tesla produced has safely deployed Autopilot.
In July 2021, five years later, Mr Musk states during quarterly earnings call that Autopilot “will be able to drive themselves with the safety levels substantially greater than that of the average person.”
A month later the NHTSA opens a preliminary safety defect investigation into Autopilot.
In October 2021, five years after initially stating Teslas “will have full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater that a human driver”
, 11,000 vehicles are recalled when cars brake suddenly while in motion.
In May 2023
, the US Transportation Secretary said there were corners about the interaction between Autopilot and drivers.
SpaceX Starship to Mars
Elon Musk has been interested in going to Mars since (at least) 2001, when he was a member of the non-profit organisation, Mars Society. One of the goals SpaceX was founded upon was a mission to Mars. These goals initially started with unmanned visits, before evolving to colonisation and terraforming of the planet.
In June 2016 Musk was interviewed by The Washington Post
where he stated unmanned flights to Mars would begin in 2018 using the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. In the interview he said “This is going to be mind blowing,”
and “I’m so tempted to talk more about the details of it. But I have to restrain myself.”
The deadline passed without flight to Mars and in January 2019 SpaceX announced it would lay off 10% of its workforce.
A few years later in December 2020 Musk was speaking at the Axel Springer Award event
where he revised the unmanned flight date to 2022, with manned flight by 2026. The 2022 date again passed without flight to Mars.
As of publication (July 2023), SpaceX’s latest flight was a test flight in April 2023.
The intended goal was to do almost one orbit of Earth before re-entering the atmosphere.
The spacecraft failed to reach orbit due to a malfunction and it needed to be destroyed while in flight. SpaceX could not terminate the spacecraft as the 'termination system' also failed to function as intended. The spacecraft disintegrated afterwards due to strain and forces placed upon it. The test flight also partially destroyed the launchpad, surrounding infrastructure, and scattered debris 6.5 miles outside of the expected fall area, damaging a Chrysler Grand Voyager.
In 2013 Elon Musk released a paper
on his vision of a fast transport system called ‘Hyperloop’. On 21 October 2018 he tweeted
that the ‘first tunnel is almost done’
and ‘opens Dec 10’
. This was subsequently picked up by news outlets.
By November 2022
the test-track was torn down and turned into a parking lot.
Boring Company LGB – LAX – Sherman Oaks
Potentially in progress
In December 2017 The Boring Company published a map that outlined the first proposed transportation routes; which was later reported by news outlets.
On 21st October 2018 Mr Musk tweeted ‘the first tunnel is almost done’
and ‘opens Dec 10’
. Closer to the launch date, on 6th December 2018, The Boring Company stated it was delayed.
The following day Mr Musk tweeted
the launch will be taking place on December 2018, and that it is ‘more than a tunnel opening’
. By July 2023 the original transportation map was no longer available on The Boring Company website, returning a 404 error. The tunnel shown on 18 December 2018 evolved into a 1.14 mile test tunnel.
Currently, members of public can use 1.7 miles of tunnel to shuttle underneath the Las Vegas Convention Centre, and a further tunnel that goes from the convention centre to the hotel, Resorts World Las Vegas.
Tesla Roadster 2
Potentially in progress
After production closed of the original Roadster in 2011, Elon Musk suggested a new version would return by 2014.
In June 2015 a blog post was released by Musk
on the 'updates' section of the Tesla website where he stated “…that speed is reserved for the next generation Roadster in 4 years”
– implying its release in 2019.
This deadline failed to result in a new Roadster.
In between this time, in December 2016, replying to a fan asking about the vehicle’s reveal, Musk tweeted the Roadster was “some years away, but yes”
A year later in November 2017 a prototype was unveiled during another product — that has as of this site's publication date failed to launch at scale — the Tesla Semi. The vehicle was surprise revealed
where Musk claimed it will go 0-60mph in less than two seconds and be able to surpass 250 mph.
Musk implied the car would be available after 2020. Again, this deadline passed with no vehicle available to the public.
In April 2017, before the start of the New York International Auto Show, Musk tweeted that the Tesla Semi truck would be unveiled in September. The reveal was delayed twice but a concept was successfully shown in November 2017 at a Tesla Event.
During the event Musk set a production date of 2019 and allowed online reservations for $5,000. Mr Musk promoted the benefits of the vehicle, stating at one point “We are guaranteeing this truck won’t break down for a million miles”
and ”Everything just works”.
It was revealed the truck would use semi-autonomous technology, be able to drive 500 miles per electric charge, and while carrying an 80,000 pound load do 0-to-60mph in 20 seconds. The battery was stated to support repeated charging cycles “for over a million miles”.
In June 2019 it was announced the initial release date would be pushed back to the end of 2020. After this revised release date was missed, at the start of 2021 it was further revised to the end of 2021. Once this was also missed, a year later, in October 2022 Musk
tweeted that Tesla would ship the first models to PepsiCo in December 2022.
In December 2022 Tesla began the first customer deliveries to PepsiCo, with an estimated 36 trucks being delivered. In the middle of December 2022 PepsiCo Vice President Mile O’Connell gave an interview to Reuters,
where he stated the trucks would haul sodas for 100 miles only, and food products for 495 miles.
Following release various trucks
broken down by members of the public. In March 2023 the vehicle had to be recalled to fix an issue. In June 2023 a second recall
Neuralink human interface
Potentially in progress
Neuralink was founded in 2016, with the public learning of its existence a year later. On 17 July 2019 the company showcased its work via a live stream.
At this event Mr Musk stated
that “we hope to have this in a human patient by the end of next year”.
Almost immediately experts doubted this timescale, with questions about safety being unanswered. As expected, the release date passed without targets being met.
A few months later the cofounder of the company, Max Hodak, left and joined a rival biotech company.
During most of 2021 Neuralink was only sporadically in the public eye. In July 2021 it announced it had raised over $200 million in funding from investors. In November 2021 while trying to get Neuralink to work, Mr Musk was able to have twins with Neuralink’s Director of Operations and Special Projects.
A year after welcoming his eighth and ninth child, Mr Musk gave a Neuralink presentation on 30th November 2021.
At the event he expected a wireless brain chip the company had developed to begin human clinical trials in six months.
One week after this proclamation, a news story broke
of Neuralink being under federal investigation for potential animal welfare violations and the killing of 1,500 animals in testing.
In May 2023 the company was finally granted FDA approval in the USA for human study of brain implants. No new production date has been released.
The Tesla Cybertruck was initially unveiled in November 2019
, having been discussed by Elon since August 2012. During the event Elon showed off the “virtually unbreakable” windows, which they tested, twice, by throwing a metal ball at them – both times the windows broke. The model line-up was stated to start from $39,900 and have a range of up to 500 miles. At the unveiling an ATV was also shown.
Around the time of the event Tesla stated the vehicle would enter mass production ‘late 2021’.
Nearing this target date, in August 2021 Tesla announced production had slipped to 2022. In January 2022
this date was again revised, and all mention of production timeline was removed from the Tesla website. Since it’s unveiling Tesla continued to accept $100 deposits for the vehicle.
Towards the end of 2022 Tesla again delayed production, this time with an expected release of ‘mid-2023’.
On 15 July 2023 Tesla tweeted
the first production version being built. It was accompanied by a photograph that obscured most of the vehicle. Later it was shown the vehicle had misaligned panels and uneven panel gaps.
October 2023, the vehicle had still not entered mass production. Elon
did however tweet on 2nd October 2023 a supposed comparison of the vehicle’s exterior design and the breasts of the female game character, Lara Croft.
At the end of November 2023
the first few customers were given vehicles. Numerous sites stated these owners were 'beta-testers' of the vehicle. Mass production had not begun. Since the initial reveal the range had decreased by up to 180 miles across the range and the price increased by up to $39,000 across the range. It was also revelaed the spare tire and range entending battery pack would take up roughly half the sizer of the truck bed, with the option to have one or the other. For it's marketing blitz Tesla showed off vehicles in various locations. A vehicle at Tesla's Manhattan store
still exhibited uneven panel gaps and chipped trim.
During Tesla’s 2021 ‘AI Day’
in August, Elon Musk stated that Tesla would build a humanoid robot. Musk stated the robot would not be used in vehicle manufacturing but instead “It should be able to, you know, please go to the store and get me the following groceries, that kind of thing,”
. To visually highlight this goal, they had an employee dress up in spandex and walk and dance on the stage in a robotic manner.
Musk intimated that a working prototype would be unveiled in a years time, in 2022. During 2022’s first quarter earnings call he stated the robot business could be worth more than the vehicle program.
Slightly over one year after his promise, during September 2022’s
‘AI Day’ a semi-functional prototype was unveiled. The robot was able to walk around on stage and wave. About the robot, Mr Musk stated “Literally the first time the robot has operated without a tether was on stage tonight”
. A second robot was also unveiled that could wave and lift its legs, however when Mr Musk spoke it collapsed.
As of October 2023, there is no mention of the robot on the Tesla website, apart from a generic paragraph on the ‘AI & Robotics’
section of their careers site.
In November 2020
Elon Musk told a conference that a smaller vehicle that fits Europe’s parking infrastructure would be needed, stating "In Europe, it would make sense to do a compact car,"
. He further stated that when hiring for designers and engineers for its Berlin factory, it would make sense to have them produce a car for their market.
A few months later Autocar
reported the car was due to go on sale in 2023.
This report was picked up by numerous news agencies around the world, with no formal denial made by Tesla. Subsequent news or information on the program has been scarce.
Since 2016 on various occasions Elon Musk has set targets on a variety of technologies to help achieve fully autonomous Tesla vehicles. Examples include updating the software of current vehicles to enable self-drive or inventing new transport categories. This was part of the “Master Plan Part Deux”.
Between 2016 to 2019 it was predominantly the former example that was elevated by Elon Musk. In April 2019 Mr Musk predicted that by 2020
there would be a million robotaxis. This deadline was missed.
During the inauguration of a new factory Mr Musk stated Tesla was working on a “futuristic looking” vehicle for use as a Robotaxi.
At Tesla’s first quarter earnings call for 2022 Mr Musk stated the company planned to bring to market a robotaxi by 2024
While no indication has been shown that Tesla are working towards this target, their stock price did increase immediately after Mr Musk’s latest timeframe.
Starlink is a subsidiary of another of Mr Musk’s businesses, SpaceX. In 2020 during a private investor event hosted by JPMorgan Chase & Co, it’s COO stated "Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public. That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public."
Around a year later in response to a follower Mr Musk tweeted that once cash flow could be predicted well the company will IPO
In 2023 the SpaceX President stated it recorded its first quarter of positive cash flow in 2022 and is on track to turn a profit. Further information on the IPO is not available.
x (formally known as Twitter) banking
In April 2022 Elon Musk became the largest individual shareholder of Twitter, and later he gave an offer to buy the company outright. After Twitter accepted the offer, he tried to renege on it stating misleading statements were provided.
After being threatened with a deposition he bought the company, carried a sink to the headquarters, laid off many staff, didn’t pay the company bills, and made a few other series of bizarre calls that led to advertisers leaving the platform. He also rebranded the company as X.
He purchased the company for $44 billion.
363 days later
(in October 2023) Mr Musk awarded employees with equity, that valued the company at $19 billion. Mr Musk’s decisions have resulted in a loss in value of around $68.87 million per day in this period.
Despite this record it seems Mr Musk shows no sign of slowing down with his vision for X / Twitter. During X’s first all-hands meeting he stated it will replace banks
, stating “When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life,”
He has given his employees one year to implement his plan.
November 2023 proved to be a particularly colourful month for Elon Musk. In the second week
of November he agreed with a tweet that said Jewish people have been pushing “dialectical hatred” against whites, and later criticized the Anti-Defamation League. This resulted in a rebuke from The White House. Towards the end of November
, while on an apology tour of Israel, some of his statements could be read to imply the neutralisation of Palestinians. At the end of November
, he appeared at the DealBook conference. When questioned about the advertising boycott of X (formally known as Twitter) he replied "If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is"
He also stated the potential consequences X (formally known as Twitter) is suffering is not as a result of his actions, but the response of others to those actions, stating “what this advertising boycott is going to do is it’s going to kill the company.”
The progress on replacing banks with X (formally known at Twitter) remains unknown.