Give the people what they want, but make it excellent!

Its fair to say that Elon Musk can be counted amongst the modern technology mavericks such as Jobs and Bezos, combing tenacious desire with market disruption and in Musk’s case, its not only banking (PayPal) or space travel but specifically automotive… this we applaud. Tesla defines the new automotive horizons.

There are a number of good reasons: all the big car manufacturers are experimenting with electric vehicles as a response to the market demand for an alternative to fossil fuel powered cars; however, Tesla have come at the problem from the other side. Instead of starting from traditional fossil fuelled cars and trying to adapt them to the new technology, they have started with an electric vehicle and designed it to be efficient from the ground up. Tesla has succeeded admirably. Basically, the big car manufacturers have started from the wrong place: as the old saying goes ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’. They are producing camels.

Due to growing awareness around the world of climate change and the factors that affect it (chief among them, the emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels). People want to do their bit and make a difference; nevertheless, they still want efficiency and style. Enter Elon Musk, the maverick and creative billionaire who instigated Tesla. Like all marketing top players he had a clear vision of what he wanted and it fit perfectly with the market. Steve Jobs did the same with Apple: give the people what they want, but make it excellent!

HERE COME THE FACTS …

Tesla was established by a couple of engineers in 2003 in California; they were joined by Elon Musk very early on and it is his unique vision which has contributed to the development of the Tesla brand. Tesla achieved revenues of nearly 12 billion last year which compares favourably to Mercedes sales of 39 billion, bearing in mind that Tesla is a company with a fifteen year history compared to Mercedes 100 year history.

Tesla’s biggest seller at the moment is the luxury ‘S’ model which currently sells only in the US and goes for upwards of $100,000. They are also producing the model 3 which sells for $35,000. So, they are in competition at both ends of the market. All cars carry IT compatibility and have a driverless function (not yet functional).

The big question is efficiency and functionality: being electric they require very little maintenance (much less than conventional vehicles) and operate on an efficient battery which has been tested independently as giving a 670 mile range; admittedly, this was at an average speed of 25 mph and without using aircon, however, this is far in excess of any other EVs currently available. Tesla are also developing charging access points. A full charge takes four hours, but on a long journey more frequent charging for shorter periods would do the job.

THE FUTURE

Tesla currently have a sports car in development which can, apparently, do 0-60 in under two seconds! Reckon you might need a F1 neck brace for that … Of course, they are working on improvements to the battery unit and they are rolling out more charging access points. They have also purchased the largest supplier of solar panels in the US. They are serious about renewable energy, but also very aware of their target market and the needs of that market.

BACKGROUND

Undeniably, Elon Musk is the driving force behind Tesla: he holds a degree in economics and a degree in physics; he is a co-founder of PayPal and SolarCity and was born in South Africa, although he now has citizenship of Canada and the US as well.

Words by Sean Myers

 

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