Those beady little eyes staring at you belong to, of course, Elon Musk. Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors.
Mr Musk had a good, no great week for his company and himself. Not only is he founder and CEO, he is also Product Architect. That’s a great title and basically says he helps the designers and engineers actually create the vehicles. He’s one smart dude, no doubt.
As smart as he is though, I, and the people I’m surrounded by have continually questioned the viability of Tesla Motors and it’s business plan from the get go.
It was not a smooth or trouble free start. We all remember this:
That whole incident on Top Gear was a bit of a sham, on Top Gears’ part! It was clear from the get go that Mr Clarkson did not like, care for. believe in or any other adjective you wish to use, Tesla and it’s Lotus derived Roadster.
Mr Musk made some lofty pronouncements about the performance of the Roadster and as expected, Mr Clarkson went above and beyond his duties to test(break) the machine.
The wide eyed optimistic and bullish sales guy vs the old cranky and crafty journalist. A battle for the ages!
At the time you may have picked a winner of that battle and it depended on what your personal ideals were or whether or not you believed you were in one or the other camp. Camp one being that of ‘petrol head’ traditionalist or that of camp two, futurist and environmentalist.
I think those were the two predominant positions most widely held by the public at large at the time.
I fell somewhere in the middle knowing that oil, gasoline, wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But I liked the idea of electric cars as I live in an urban center and pollution is a daily companion.
I hated it then, as I do now, the idea of plugging your car in, but it being electric was kind of intriguing and not at all scary to me: even as a ‘petrol head’.
So then, how was I wrong, maybe?
Well it turns out that Mr Musk has seemingly lost a few battles but won the war and this week may have sealed his victory. There is a distinction to be made however on what exactly he won and for who.
For who is easy, Tesla Motors. What, he won is the murky side of the spoils. Let’s tackle the Tesla Motors and the ‘who’ first.
These are just a few of the pictures of the line ups in various cities around the world for the Model 3(E) this past week that I ripped from Google. It should be very clear to all of you that it was a rousing success. It was more than Tesla and Musk claim to have been expecting and honestly, it was way more than I was expecting.
Tesla Underestimates Model3 Demand credit to AutoBlog.com
252,000 pre-orders as of Saturday April 2nd. Wow! Can you recall the last time a car, any car, commanded that kind of attention and action? The first that comes to mind for me is the 1964.5 Ford Mustang.
On that day, April 17th 1964, Ford claims four million people went to their local dealer to see the new Mustang and they took in 22,000 orders. A record to this day, I think, depending on what the numbers are for the Model3.
Clearly Tesla took way more orders, deposits, but I have not seen any numbers to indicate how many people just showed up to look at the car. Does that matter though? Here, of course is the other problem with that: Tesla didn’t have a car for you to see at any of it’s dealers, unlike the Mustang.
Now, the Mustang went on to sell a million cars in just two years and the Model 3 will not do that but in 2016, no car manufacturer would be upset in the least if they took deposits for 252,000 cars!
Site unseen, people put at least $1000.00 to hold a spot in line for a car that really at that moment was just vapor ware. That’s a bit harsh or even over the top, that’s Mr Clarkson’s influence, but the people trusted Tesla and Mr Musk enough to put their hard earned cash down for a product they hadn’t even seen yet or knew anything about.
So What did Mr Musk win?
That may be an easy answer for you but I think it’s way more complicated than you think and it all has to do with who Mr Musk is and what I think his eventual goal is.
In title and to most of us here he is the CEO of Tesla Motors. He is for the average rube, the head of a car company. Yes he does other things, rockets and batteries but he is most known for Tesla Motors: funny how people forget or just don’t know he was the founder of PayPal and a one time owner of a McLaren F1.
Being a CEO of a car company is just a consequence and stepping stone to who and what I think Mr Musk wants to be. An Energy Baron!
John D Rockefeller, Nikola Tesla, Lee Iacocca and Mr Musk. Well, Mr Tesla while vital to the generation and understanding of power and Mr Iacocca not really an energy baron per say, they all played a part in the power and wealth that is the energy sector. For those too young to understand the meaning of the cover of Time magazine, it was kind of like the Facebook of yesterday. If you got the cover you were an important person, a heavy weight!
Mr Tesla and Iacocca aside, the crowd in which Mr Musk wants to be associated with is more these guys:
Vanderbilt, Astor, Rockefeller, Doheny and Carnegie, all titans of industry and figures of immense wealth and power. Energy, the production of, the transmission to and the collecting of the fees for, are the pathway to unimaginable wealth in the 21st century, just as it was in the 19th and 20th century.
The only real difference being that instead of fossil fuels, we are turning to alternative and renewable sources of energy and battery storage.
Mr Musk is setting himself up nicely to not only be Americas new Energy Baron, but the worlds.
With this weeks introduction of the Model 3(E) he took at least one more step closer to achieving that goal. The public outpouring of support and open acceptance of not just the product but the ideas and ideals behind Tesla Motors and Mr Musk is a clear indication that his vision for the transportation and energy sectors, are the way of the the future.
Has Mr Musk caught lightening in a bottle? It seems he has in this moment. Whether that will prove out to be the winning formula in the future is yet to be seen but for now I’m hedging my bets and putting some money on Tesla and Mr Musk to reach the once BS goals they set out for themselves.
While I’m not %100 sure they will make it, it seems those younger than me are sure and after all, they are the ones who will gladly pay Mr Musk for his products and visions of the future.