The ‘Tesla Minibus’, which is also only a placeholder name for now, is another upcoming Tesla vehicle in early stages of development confirmed by CEO Elon Musk when revealing his ‘Master Plan Part Deux’. While in early stages of development, Musk confirmed that the vehicle is being built on the Model X chassis, which should make easier to bring to production.
Musk said that the bus is inspired by the “California Custom VW combi design art”. Jalopnik came up with the rendering seen above to help visualize what it could look like.
In his ‘Master Plan’, Musk referenced the vehicle as a” high passenger-density urban transport vehicle” and specifically talked about it being enabled by autonomous driving:
“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.”
The CEO referred to the same timeline for unveiling and production as the other vehicles confirmed in his ‘Master Plan’: an unveiling of the concept in “6 to 9 months”, which should mean in early to mid-2017. It is expected to be in production within the next 3 to 4 years (2019-2020).