Elon Musk is considered by many, the real life Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Tesla has not only become a brand through Musk, but thanks to his innovative ideas and ventures, it has become a reservoir of ideas and technologies that are intriguing, adapting and changing constantly. An engineer and an entrepreneur, since the age of 10, he has co-founded tech company Zip 2, PayPal and then sold them off for huge sums to Compaq and eBay respectively. Taking business risks is second nature to America’s most eligible bachelor and his urgency to invest in space exploration led to SpaceX program. Eventually that too became a success story in the Silicon Valley. Part of his inventive exploits has been Tesla, an electronic automobile industry and there is no stopping the man as he plans to build the fastest land transport, called the Hyperloop. Although he has no plans to join the Avengers team anytime soon, lets dive into the top 10 untold truths about Elon Musk’s Tesla to before he actually does.
10. Tesla – A history lesson
The company was named Tesla as a homage to the Serbian inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla. It considers Tesla’s brilliance and innovation as the key pillars responsible for the electric cars it promotes. Besides that even though Elon Musk is the face of the company now, he was not the founder of Tesla. Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning were the original fathers. At the time they were struggling with a problem, which caught the eye of Musk and got him interested. Because of certain strategies taken by the then CEO, Musk had differences and that lead him to control the reins of the horse and take the mainstage as the CEO and Chief Designer of the company. Since then, the company has come a long way as Musk is relentless when it comes to innovation, branding and thinking forward for the betterment of Tesla.
Here is another fun fact. As Musk drives the company’s wheel (pardon the pun) further into the multi-billion dollar territory, he idolizes the controversial figure Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla’s rival, along with Winston Churchill. Talk about different perspectives.
9. Marketing with panache
In this digital age, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements. They provoke us to buy the next product, be it a toothpaste advertised as ‘revolutionary’ when it comes to getting those pearly whites or a savvy car that is the ultimate prize on four wheels, making your neighbours and friends jealous if you own one. Marketing has been around a while and nowadays more so, thanks to social media and YouTube, to name a few. When it comes to Tesla, the company sure knows of the potential of letting itself out there in the digital realms and catching the eye of the people. Unlike other automobile companies like BMW, Toyota etcetera, Tesla has managed to make itself a brand, even though it’s a fairly small company compared to others. Musk is pretty active on social media, whether he is talking about his business, or ideas about rockets and space. The real life Stark has humanized the company in the process and has escalated the brand significance of Tesla as a result. Innovation has become synonymous with Musk and that word has been part of the millennial language as well. With cell phones chips becoming smaller, or ordering your next favourite dessert at McDonalds on touch kiosks, we have become conditioned to use whatever technological innovation comes our way. Like the phone apps constantly pushing us to update the latest features, the millennial want to be in the update loop regularly.
Musk has planted himself on Twitter and unlike President Trump, who uses it to bash people in his endless rants, the guy tweets sensational stuff and doesn’t shy away from what he writes. One such case was that of devastation of Irma and Maria, which led to a faulty electrical grid in Puerto Rico. Musk tweeted about it by saying he could apply Tesla’s solar energy or battery storage technology to rebuild the grid. To this, Puerto Rico’s governor, immediately responded. His no filter like attitude on social media humanizes the company unlike other brands in the automobile industry that think twice before making their presence felt on the internet. So next time what Tesla tech are you aiming to buy online or are you clinging on to Twitter to hear about Musk’s next eye-opening tweet?
8. Cars with toys
Ever wanted to retrieve your car remotely, like calling your dog with a stick? Had any fears of sitting inside car interiors laced with leather, if you were a vegan? Or did you ever want your ride to open doors straight out like the DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future? Have no fears, Tesla is here. With the brand comes its own slew of toys fitted nicely in their cars. An autopilot system in the car may not sound as ground-breaking but the ones in Tesla cars are the closest to full autonomous machinery. The car can switch lanes, calibrating the wheel and sensing the traffic in the front, back and the side. A HEPA filter using Tesla’s bioweapon defence mode protects the passengers from bacteria in the car. Still not satiated by your futuristic tech appetite? Using a phone app or your keys, you can retrieve your car as it moves forwards or backwards. Also it cares if you’re a vegan as the interiors of the car are fitted with your comfort in mind. Pretty sure PETA would be proud. Now Tesla owners can charge their empty car batteries with 150 miles of range in half an hour. That too for free. Talk about quick service. All this seems sci-fi but hey you don’t know unless you don’t try it and with the way the technology is heading only upwards, Batman too would be proud of this tech. Now we just have to wait till Tesla decides to fit this stuff in a batmobile for the general consumer.
7. Model S- The most expensive Tesla
Speaking of cars with toys, an upgraded Model S is considered as the priciest of them all. It comes with the price tag of $205,820. Now that’s a lot of moolah to throw at an electric car. The model is upgraded by T Sportline. It doesn’t end there as it comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from Tesla tech like autopilot, over-the-air updates, advanced parking sensors, and so on. It has approximately $80,000 worth of upgrades and the interiors cost $25,000 and are custom made. With a carbon fibre body kit and $7,500 wheels, this is ‘luxury on roads.’ Looking at the upgraded version, that’s a lot of numbers we are talking about. Now we just have to wait and watch as to which Tesla dethrones the S and takes up the mantle as the next most expensive car. Only time will tell.
6. Setbacks and failures
Like other multi-billion dollar conglomerates, Tesla has had its own demons to face. The company sure hasn’t been able to maintain a constant streak when it comes to realising innovative ideas and implementing new technologies to challenge how we usually perceive the very concept of driving a car. In one of the shareholders meeting in 2016, Musk admitted to it that the Roadster, the 1st Tesla Model was a catastrophe. This was so because the gasoline powered car Lotus Elite was converted to an electric vehicle, which resulted in high expenses, labour intensive and time consuming. Apart from that there were manufacturing decisions made for the car line, which were considered a mistake. He was also pretty vocal about “completely unsafe” nature of the model, even though it had passed all regulatory requirements. Recently a Model X crash in California in March, 2018 has raised eyebrows regarding Tesla’s autopilot features. To top it, thanks to the bad press and the company’s failure to achieve production targets on the Model 3 have further been added to the setbacks it has been facing.
Because of the troubled waters Tesla is swimming in, the bonds of the company have also dropped in price, showing the negativity on part of the investors’ stance towards the company. Lets hope that the company manages to come out of this unscathed and give us all innovation through cars for years to come. A free trip to Mars on purchase of a Tesla would be an awesome idea. Just saying.
5. The road to system updates
Briefly mentioned before, like cellphones and other electronics that need updates to keep improving them, Tesla has also decided to go for the update route. Our phones require constant updates to weed out the pesky bugs from the apps we use. Similarly, Tesla aims for a continued support experience for its customers by changing UI (user-interface) and other improvements within the software to keep improving the Tesla driving experience. There have been people with issues regarding car steering and one of the customers got their fixed by the company accessing the car database and adjusting accordingly.
With the upcoming version 9 update, Tesla has made certain tweaks within the UI and has added waypoints. Another extension is the Drive On Nav feature added to the list, but it hasn’t been tested yet. Although there is speculation that it has something to do with the car’s autopilot mode. With all the possibilities that come with software installation in Tesla, lets aim for your own personal JARVIS AI from the Iron Man mythology. You never know whats being cooked up in Musk’s secret lab of unforeseen technology and one can always hope.
4. Tesla Model S P100D
Tesla Model S P100D is the answer to everyone’s prayers who have an appetite for the need for speed. It is the new version of the Model S sedan. Clocking at a speed of 0-60 MPH in 2.5 seconds, it is a competitive beast just falling shortly behind the Ferrari LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder. One another attractive feature of the car is the price it comes at. It costs under $150,000 when you compare the cost with other supercars. Now that’s a lot of power at hand and that too with a low cost. It also comes with the 100kWh battery that increases range significantly to about 315 miles on the Emission Test Cycle (ETC) and around 600 km on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). Fortunately unlike LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder that are small two seaters, Model S P100D owners has four doors and lot of cargo space. It is also considered the safest car along with Model X and is part of the Tesla supercharger network which allows freedom to travel long distances for free.
Looks like the Tesla guys have thought about everything. So what do you plan on getting for your driving pleasures next time, a Tesla S or the uber expensive Ferrari and the Porsche. Whatever the case, it will be easy to make up your mind for the Tesla as the other supercars expect the average consumer to rob a bank, thanks to the ridiculous price tag they come with.
3. The mark of the Gigafactory
The Tesla Gigafactory is a massive undertaking by the company and is the world’s biggest battery factory. It is being constructed in the middle of the Nevada Desert. After its completion, it will be the largest building by footprint. It aims to increase the production of cars and will create large amounts of lithium-ion batteries to feed the Tesla’s around the globe. Elon Musk along with other investors have poured in millions to realise this project and they sure are taking it quite seriously judging by the impressive aerial shots of the building being constructed. It currently occupies around 100 acres of land and once gotten over with, might surpass over 10 million. When it comes to whether it will be environment friendly, lets not sweat. It will have solar panels on top of the roofs and will utilize geothermal and wind power to generate energy required for the plant. As can be imagined when it comes to the cost that is going into the undertaking, Musk believes that if all car companies along with industrial companies in US, China and Europe merge together to favour the potential of the Gigafactory, we can start using sustainable energy in no time. Also the government has to play an important part in vouching for sustainable energy.
It is an answer to rectify the criticism towards low car production and batteries and also the high costs of Tesla products. The factory will lead to more production and because of the abundance in batteries, the company will become more accessible for people. The target is to achieve affordability through economies of scale, once the factory is completed and starts production. For those wondering about the job opportunities that come once the cogs start moving, Musk expects about 6000 people to move in. The robots will do manual work, but still priority will be given to hiring people to come work for Tesla. This sounds like the Tesla Holy Grail which will further escalate the popularity of the company and solve the current issues it has been dealing with. It is a plan to end all plans, perfect marriage of ambition and goal.
2. Rise of the Phoenix
During troubled situations, the best of us can make the most irrational of decisions to come out of it safe and sound. Tesla too saw that phase. What it was promising was not being seen by investors and consumers and the rise of complaints because of faulty cars, lack of high production to meet demands and excessive costs was paving the way for the company to dig its own grave. This led to Musk getting in touch with the then Google CEO Larry Page to sell off the company in 2013. With demands like $11 billion price point and the guarantee to allow the company to produce a third generation electric car before and if the company was shut down or broken up, Google agreed to the terms and conditions made by Musk. Also an eight year time was attached to the agreement, whereby Musk would be able to operate. The deal was almost in the final stages.
But surprisingly in desperate times when you think of taking the plunge to save what you hold dear to you, Musk decided otherwise. He made the decision to make amends and give a bright future to Tesla. He kicked out the senior employees and roped in young people to work for him, including a well-oiled sales team whose job was to give their all when it came to delivering cars. With an efficient staff at hand and a new hope, Tesla rose like the phoenix, without sounding too dramatic and managed to create profits the same year. There were rumour mills spinning that Apple had also set its eyes on Tesla. Despite the companies problematic past and the change of ownership plans, Musk managed to pull the company out of bankruptcy and give a fresh start for grow and evolve. It has come a long way since then and is flying high, especially the initiation of the Gigafactory looks promising. Now that’s what it truly means to come back with a bang.
1. Donation for a good cause
Apart from focusing on driving (no pun intended) innovation and thinking about the environment, Tesla has also donated solar panels America’s largest non-profit solar installer. This was done to provide power to an estimated 150 low income households across United States. The non-profit organization GRID Alternatives promote solar energy as the answer to solve air pollution, help families who are financially stricken to live affordably, and also career opportunities for people looking for jobs. Along with the donation of the solar system, it also included 15,000 hours of job training for GRID Alternatives network of area work volunteers. The move encourages the use of sustainable energy and energy cost savings and at the same time gives a chance for low income families a chance to experience the solar lifestyle. The organization has installed around 9,000 systems, leading to $ 269,862,115 lifetime savings and estimated 30,000 trained participants.
Tesla and Musk have also made other donations in the past, notably the assuring of $37.5 million to Nevada’s public education system. If we look at the bigger picture, the company is sending across a positive message when it comes to the use of implementing solar energy and discouraging the use of products that do more damage than good for the environment. Ironically Musk is also donating money towards a Tesla Museum, which would be built upon the site where Nikola Tesla’s lab was located at Wardenclyffe in Long Island, New York. The museum will come with the famous Tesla’s various inventions and the impact they left on the people today. It would also have a hacker lab, complete with the ability for people to make prototypes of their inventions and innovation stations where ideas can be turned into reality. The museum is also organizing a fundraising enterprise called “Buy a brick for Nik,” whereby people can buy and inscribe a brick, which will be then used in the construction of the museum. The push to open a museum and celebrate Nikola Tesla’s inventions sounds like the company’s way of getting in touch with its roots, that inspired the company for what it is now and what it intends to do to advance technology further. Lets all have faith in the company and aim for a weekend getaway to Mars, when SpaceX makes that a reality in the coming years. Chances are, you could get your own personal Tesla taking you to a galaxy, far far away.