Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas took a stab at the big question Tesla investors have been asking these days: What is Elon Musk thinking?
Jonas said he expects Tesla is going to transition from a car company to public transport company.
"We believe that Tesla's unique advantages in machine learning and lack of exposure to legacy systems (internal combustion tech, unconnected cars) provide it with an opportunity to tap into larger and faster growing markets ahead of its competitors," he wrote Tuesday in a research note.
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Musk tweeted on Sunday that he was working on a sequel to his "Top Secret Tesla Masterplan," a blog entry he posted in 2006 that detailed the automaker's vision for the company.
A decade later, faced with scrutiny over its disappointing delivery numbers, potential troubles with the company's autopilot feature and skepticism around a bid to buy SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY), which sent the stock spiraling downward as much as 10 percent, Musk is hoping to reposition the company.
According to Jonas, the model of selling cars to private owners is potentially unsustainable, and the auto industry may be in the process of transitioning to serve as a public transportation company.
And that's where Tesla has an edge, according to Jonas.
Building off of that possibility, the analyst modeled what a public transportation service could look like from Tesla — with 5,000 cars by 2018. This move could position Tesla to take on companies like Uber and Lyft, which have cornered the ride-hailing service industry.
Of course, Jonas and his team noted that their analysis was entirely hypothetical and represented a "plausible path for Telsa to take."
This isn't the first time that Jonas has suggested that Tesla might supply ride-sharing services with autonomous cars or create its own on-demand service. In a 2015 earnings call, the analyst inquired if Musk was planning to do just that, but the Tesla founder declined to comment.
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