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Tesla plans to build a 'Space Bus.' What's that?

The latest phase of Tesla's 'Master Plan' already includes a semi-truck, autonomous bus, pickup truck, and small crossover. But CEO Elon Musk is hinting at yet another new vehicle project. 

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    A Tesla Motors Model X electric sports-utility vehicle opens its falcon wing doors on stage during a presentation in Fremont, Calif.
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In his recently-released "Master Plan Part Deux" for Tesla Motors, CEO Elon Musk specifically mentioned a handful of new products.

They included a semi truck and an autonomous bus that would mark Tesla's entry into the commercial-vehicle market, as well as a pickup truck and a small crossover to expand its passenger-vehicle lineup.

Musk subsequently took to what seems to be his favorite forum—Twitter—to confirm a couple of details about one of those models, and hint at yet another new-vehicle project.

The small crossover mentioned in the "master plan" will be based on the Model 3, and will be called Model Y, Musk tweeted in response to a Road & Track article.

Musk also confirmed plans for a Tesla "minibus" based on the larger Model X afterJalopnik published an article theorizing about such a vehicle.

"The Tesla Minibus will be built on a Model X chassis. People density potential is surprisingly high," Musk tweeted in response to the Jalopnik article.

Musk has referred to the vehicle as a "Bus/Minibus/Spacebus."

One word Musk almost certainly will not use to describe this vehicle is "minivan," because that would likely compromise Tesla's carefully-cultivated image of coolness.

Whatever segment the company classifies it in, a Model X-based minibus could be a rival to an anticipated all-electric revival of the classic Volkswagen Type 2 busJalopnikspeculated.

There have been numerous rumors about an electric VW bus, and the company unveiled the Budd-e electric van concept at CES earlier this year.

The Budd-e was based on Volkswagen's new MEB platform for compact electric cars, meaning a production version would likely be smaller than a Model X-based bus.

The Tesla minibus could also support the company's plans to make car sharing a major part of its business.

In the second master plan, posted on the company's blog, Musk said Tesla will make future self-driving cars the basis of a car-sharing service, with a fleet comprised of both customer and company-owned vehicles.

Under the proposed scheme, Tesla owners could rent out their cars when not needed, and Tesla would provide additional cars to create an adequate-sized fleet.

With its greater passenger and cargo capacity, a minibus could be quite useful in such a service.

Of course, Tesla has many projects already underway, so it's unclear when the company would actually get around to launching this new vehicle.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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