I’ll come clean up front and admit that I own a Tesla road car and shares in the company. I’m also a mid 50’s white anglo Male car enthusiast, which means I probably should be a doubter of the Tesla / Musk plans.
Recent comments by ex G.M Exec Bob Lutz and others have caused me to get the keyboard tapping though, because I think they are so wrong in their thinking about Tesla and Musk and what makes the game tick.
Lutz and others have said that Tesla is headed for the automotive graveyard and that this will represent a massive historical failure etc. He might be right on one count (I personally don’t think so) in that maybe Tesla will go out backwards in the next 5 to ten years due to competition from the “traditional manufacturers” in the electric market. If it does, that will be a SUCCESS for Musks plan, not a failure and that is what these guys don’t get.
Musk set out not to build the worlds most profitable car company, but to prove that Electric cars can work, and be good cars and be in demand an MOST IMPORTANTLY stop the development of fossil fuelled cars. The more competition he gets, the more his point is proven and his success assured.
If you’ve ever watched kids racing cars (or Karts, or bikes) you’ll know they are fast not because of skill (so much), but because of lack of fear. They have a single fixed goal, no fear and they just go for it. As they get older and get responsibilities and families and memories of their life etc. fear and anxiety develop and they SLOW DOWN and become risk averse. Tesla (and Musk in particular) are the young race drivers, and Bob and his cronies are the older slower (once upon a time successful) guys reminiscing about “how fast I was”. Are there risks in the Tesla approach, you better believe it. Have their been and will there be more failures, Absolutely.
But I think Tesla will survive and I think thrive and here’s why
Tesla has proven ALREADY that motoring is becoming a software business.
Are there risks in trying to prop up dead industries whilst dabbling in new technologies ? I don’t know, ask Kodak, or Photocopier companies, or printer manufacturers. I own a Tesla (well the bank does) and I presently also own a couple of fossil cars. I’ve come to refer to them as the “Fax machines” in the garage.
Apple proved conclusively that phones and computers are a software business many years ago and they seem to have done ok. Steve Jobs said early on “Any software business that really serious about it has to build their own hardware”
Apple went up against Microsoft IN CHOSEN MARKETS and made them look silly. Tesla have done exactly the same, and embarrassed the traditional automotive guys to catch up. Microsoft tried that with Windows Mobile (for phones). It seems to have not gone well for them…………..
Why was (and for now is) Apple successful. A massive fixation on design, on the product, on helping people understand what they want before they wanted it. Jobs was a god like figure to many of his employees and most of his customers. The similarities are pretty clear.
The dinosaur auto manufacturers have been playing down the threat from Tesla and Electric for many years only to be slowly coming around (now that they’ve amortised as much of their investment in Fossil fulled plant and machinery as they think they can get away with). Are they abandoning their dirty habits and going full on Electric. No their not, why not ?. Here’s a few possible reasons:-
- They don’t really believe it’s true
- They have fear and anxiety like older race drivers ?
- They have a customer based they’ve “sold a line to” who they can’t yet abandon
- They want to see Electric cars at a loss to “hurt” Tesla (Lutz actually suggested this in his comments)
People bought Windows phones, I know a few of them. Some people said they weren’t a bad effort, but it was always clear Microsofts heart wasn’t in it it. It wasn’t “The Game” it was “A game”. They failed, they don’t talk about it. Tesla, and more spectacularly Space-X have had a LOT of failures. They talk about them.
For Tesla, renewables is “The Game” and for Musk it’s what he sees we as humans MUST do. Profit and success are ancillary. Sounds like Jobs and Apple to me. They’ve done ok. (RIP Jobs, you did great work).