This is what Elon Musk's 'top secret master plan' update is probably all about

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been teasing the world for a few weeks now about an update to what he’s been calling Tesla’s “Top Secret Master Plan” (TSMP) At least, he’s been calling in that since the reveal of the Model 3 mass-market vehicle earlier this year.

The plan summarises Musk vision of accelerating humanity’s exit from the fossil-fuel era, and it involves all his companies: Tesla for all-electric car and energy storage; Solar City (he’s chairman, his cousins founded the startup) for easy and inexpensive solar-panel installation; and SpaceX, to provide us with a way to “back up” our threatened biosphere by colonizing the Solar System, starting with Mars.

Musk discussed this vision at some length in Paris last December.

Over the past few days, he’s been tweeting that he’s holed himself up while listening to the soundtrack to the film “Gatsby,” even pulling an all-nighter to finish the plan. He now says that Tesla will publish it at 5PM ET/8PM PT on Wednesday.

Will be working at Tesla on Autopilot & Model 3 today, then aiming to pull an all-nighter and complete the master product plan
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 19, 2016

Finishing off the plan while listening to the soundtrack from Gatsby. Seems appropriate…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2016

We’ll cover that event when it happens, but until then, the 2.0 version of the TSMP could be one of two things:

A laying out of all the new vehicle models that Tesla will produce using the Model 3 platform

The Model 3 isn’t a single car. It’s a platform upon which numerous types of vehicle can be built. This is a common practice in the auto industry, but a car maker does need to have a lineup beyond the two vehicles that Tesla is currently selling — the Model S sedan and the Model X CUV — to make it effective.

At the Model 3 reveal, we saw a four-door, smaller than the the Model S. What we could get on Wednesday night is a lineup that also features a sporty coupe, a compact CUV, and possibly even a pickup truck. Enthusiasts will also hope for a new Roadster.

We could also get some colour on updates to the Model S, pricing for the Model X, forthcoming software updates and new features, the ongoing development of Tesla’s charging network, and of course some thoughts on the investigation of a fatal Autopilot crash in Florida in May.

An explanation of how Tesla and Solar City will be fully integrated

Tesla wants to buy Solar City. Naysayers argue that this is a backdoor bailout because Solar City has been struggling and Musk owns about a fifth of the company; all Tesla will get in the merger is $3.2 billion in additional debt and a giant speed-brake on its ability to deliver 500,000 vehicles annually by 2018.

Musk maintains that putting Tesla — which is now both a car company and an energy-storage company — together with Solar City will create an integrated enterprise that can more effectively pursue the TSMP agenda. In fact, the TSMP will be turbocharged by the acquisition.

Those are my bets.

And I’m leaning toward the first, because Musk is calling this a “product plan” in his tweets.

However, we could also see Musk roll out a shared-mobility platform, along the lines of Uber or the General Motors-Lyft partnership, leveraging Tesla’s position as the world’s most successful electric automaker and as the purveyor of the controversial but quite advanced Autopilot semi-self-driving technology.

Tune in later Wednesday night to find out!

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