AUGUST: Tesla enters its surreal phase, Musk offers “Master Plan, Part Deux,” second-quarter earnings hit, Ludicrous Mode is just for quick thrills, and get ready for the “alien dreadnought.”

AUGUST: Tesla enters its surreal phase, Musk offers "Master Plan, Part Deux," second-quarter earnings hit, Ludicrous Mode is just for quick thrills, and get ready for the "alien dreadnought."

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

As second-quarter earnings approach, the news maelstrom around Tesla led me to conclude that Tesla had entered a new, surreal phase, complete with a wildly ambitious new blueprint from Musk.

“It all makes your head spin,” I wrote.

“Which challenge do you focus on? What’s the priority? Or does this all have to happen at once? Musk clearly thinks so — he just authored a vast, far-reaching manifesto, his ‘Master Plan, Part Deux.’ Tesla as a carmaker was never easy to understand. But Tesla as a sustainable-energy, manufacturing, and transportation conglomerate will be baffling.”

Gearing up to build 500,000 vehicles annually just wasn’t enough. Tesla also had to create a semitruck to tackle the freight business, as well as a pickup truck to capture all those potential owners who wanted an electric vehicle with a bed in the back.

Was this an instance of Tesla getting addicted to the business version of Ludicrous Mode, the system in its cars that serves up supercar-beating acceleration?

I don’t know, but it occurred to me at the time that although Ludicrous Mode is awesome, it’s also something of a temporary and impractical thrill.

Something tremendously fascinating happened in August as well, a tantalizing follow-up to “Master Plan, Part Deux.”

Musk started to reveal some of his new ideas about manufacturing.

It happened when, on a call with analysts after Tesla reported second-quarter earnings, Musk delved into how Tesla would take matters to a new level to build the Model 3 and other future vehicles:

“Musk said that the in-house term they have for the manufacturing advancement he hopes to introduce is ‘alien dreadnought.’

“‘The point at which that’s what the factory looks like, that’s when you know you’ve won.’

“Musk then outlined, using software terminology, the evolution of the factory, from version o.5 to version 3.0.

“‘By version 3, it won’t look like anything else,’ he said. “You can’t have people in the production line itself, otherwise you drop to people speed. So there will be no people in production process itself. People will maintain the machines, upgrade them, and deal with anomalies.'”

Just wow. As soon as you think Musk has more than enough to think about, he comes up with something radically different to add to his plate.

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