Even though Tesla is still trying to get a handle on Model 3 production, the company has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. If anything, Elon Musk and co. are looking to expand Tesla’s fleet to include a range of other vehicles. In just a few weeks, for example, Tesla will give the world a look at the company’s somewhat secretive semi-truck, a vehicle that Musk boasted drives “like a sports car” while adding that the unveiling event itself will be unreal.
A semi-truck, though, represents just one aspect of Tesla’s vehicular ambitions. Beyond that, Tesla has signaled its interest in developing a brand new take on the Roadster, a crossover version of the Model 3 dubbed the Model Y. Not only that, but Musk over the past few years has also expressed an interest in developing a Tesla Minibus.
Indeed, Musk discussed the growing importance of mass transit vehicles in the second installment of his master plan, which reads in part:
In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year.
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.
That said, we haven’t heard much about Tesla’s bus ambitions since. Earlier this week, though, an electric-powered bus with a Tesla battery was spotted at a Supercharger station. The design is nothing more than a rectangle, which is why some initially believed it could very well be a test mule for the real deal. Photos and video of the purported Tesla bus were originally posted to a Tesla Owners group on Facebook and can be viewed below.
Now before you get too excited, it was later revealed that the bus is owned by a Tesla enthusiast who outfitted it with a Tesla drivetrain and other goodies. There’s even a video with the following description.
1968 “Westcoaster” Bus originally electric drive, but had 36v lead-acid system and 4 golf car motors all working to drive the bus to it’s top speed of 14MPH. Now the old system has been removed and a Tesla ~400HP drive unit installed to run it. I think this was used by the California Water dept. to ferry employees around underground, possibly at a dam, so they needed zero emissions.
And now for the photos.