Elon Musk has been teasing Tesla's venture into automated buses since April. OK, he referred to it as "not exactly a bus," but still ... that sounds something like a bus, no?

Either way, now Musk has completely shifted expectations. After an article from car publication Jalopnik used past tweets by Musk to venture that the buses would look something like Volkswagen vans from the 1960s, the entrepreneur tweeted:

Yep--those "buses" will be built on the same frame used for the Model X sedan. Combined with Musk's previous tweet that he'll use VW vehicles as inspiration, it's clear Tesla's vehicles will look much less like traditional city buses and more like groovy, hippy-era six- or eight-person VW vans. Here's Jalopnik's speculation as to what they could look like:

It's a total guess, but it probably isn't that far off given what Teslas have looked like to this point. In Musk's "Master Plan Part Deux" blog post published recently, he wrote about a plan for "high passenger-density urban transport" that avoids slowing down traffic flow. "With the advent of autonomy," he wrote, "it will probably make sense to shrink the size of buses and transition the role of bus driver to that of fleet manager." To save space, the buses would have no aisles or open entryways. They'd be summoned either via app or a button at a Tesla bus stop and would go directly to the person's destination.

Musk said in his July 20 blog post that the buses will be unveiled in 2017. It's not known yet whether he'll move up the timeline, especially considering he's dropped some key hints as a result of his exchange with Jalopnik. But what is clear is that Tesla is aiming to make something as boring as "high passenger-density urban transport" a little more fun--and a lot more logical and ecofriendly.

Published on: Aug 1, 2016