During Tesla’s quarterly shareholder’s meeting, Elon Musk admitted to making mistakes but brazenly indicated that an overhauling was coming. This is obviously more important in the wake of receiving hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for the newly revealed Model 3.
Improving the process should be something we expect from a company with an interest in sustainability versus pure profit. After all, the goal of Tesla is to accelerate sustainable transportation, not merely create a profit or carve a niche. But the lofty goals have Wall Street perplexed and analysts confounded.
In light of his skeptics, the question amazingly remains: why does anyone still bet against this guy?
As we witness the rise of Tesla, we often forget we are seeing it grow from nothing to a major disruptive company in the span of a decade. Because we didn’t get to watch every iteration and setback of Ford or General Motors, we only have historical accounts of how it progressed. Whereas Tesla developed in the modern era with social media and short attention spans – we often discount the innovative company every time it stumbles or delays.
Working To Win
Tesla is inventing the game as it goes and is still, way out in front of other industry leaders in some areas. Other automakers have the advantages of loose patent laws and low labor costs. However, Musk and his team show consistent ability to adapt, change, and work around institutional barriers.
They have transformed their company despite being written off many times along the way.
Take Tesla’s direct sales model to consumers. They are embattled legally with states around the country like New Jersey in order to maintain it. Conventional car dealers complain Musk wants privilege because he doesn’t use a dealership. Musk contends the dealership model is antiquated, favors established brands, and rewards salespeople for selling gasoline cars that require maintenance.
And the dealerships make a profit servicing cars.
There are a lot of narratives about how Tesla benefits from government subsidies. This is disingenuous and misinformed. Tesla did receive a loan during the auto industry bailout, but paid it back ahead of schedule and with a bonus. Taxpayers profited from their aid to Tesla. Furthermore, the system is tilted towards fossil fuels and rarely discussed in the criticism of Tesla cars receiving buyer incentives. And finally, all car manufacturers are eligible for these tax incentives – it is merely that Tesla has aggressively taken advantage of them as their business model and environmental policy.
The United States must wake up to these new innovations. We have an old school way of doing things that makes it difficult to understand people who innovate like Musk. Yes, he is bucking the system, but it is a system that needs bucked.
If we don’t listen to the Musk’s of the world, our future becomes polluted and uncertain.
*Jerry Mooney is a Language and Communications Professor at the College of Idaho and the author of History Yoghurt & the Moon. Follow him on Twitter: @JerryMooney