Times can change in the blink of an eye, and now company proves that more certainly than Tesla. In less than 20 years, the Tesla brand has become synonymous with progress and sustainability, pushing the boundaries of how society views automobiles, and with no evident plans to slow down.
Reshaping The Industry
Tesla was founded with the expressed goal of showing consumers that driving an electric car didn’t have to mean compromising on performance or style. With this goal in mind, Tesla set out to create a series high performance vehicles with long-lasting, rechargeable batteries—some of which ever have autopilot capabilities.
After producing several cars, Tesla also unveiled a semi. In addition, it has put significant work into making its vehicles as affordable as possible, so the average individual has access to their products as well. In its short life, Tesla has proven a driving force in changing the automotive industry more drastically than ever before.
A Fast-Moving Narrative
In 2003, engineers Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors, and named it after inventor Nikola Tesla. In order to make their vision of creating a revolutionary car come true, the two received funding from a variety of sources, but the bulk came from Paypal co-founder Elon Musk.
Five years later, in 2008, Tesla’s first electric car came to market: the Roadster. It could drive for 245 miles on a single charge, go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, and reach top speeds of 125 miles per hour. Eberhard and Tarpenning had, in fact, produced an electric vehicle that looked and drove just as well as a traditional one. However, the Roadster came with a staggering $109,000 price tag.
The progress didn’t stop there, though. Both founders stepped down from their executive positions by 2008, when Musk took on the role of CEO. After raising $226 million in its initial public offering in 2010, Tesla threw its weight behind creating improvements upon its first attempt.
By 2017, a mere 7 years later, Tesla had unveiled three new models: the Model S, the Model X, and the Model 3. The last of these models aimed to increase affordability greatly, and to that end it has succeeded greatly. The Model 3 is available beginning at just $35,000—mind you that’s more than $70,000 less than its first car.
With all of this having occurred in such a short span of time, it’s clear that Tesla’s only commitment is to advancement of its goal. The company is quick to stop production of older models in order to free up resources for new pursuits, and this attitude makes it one of the most recognizable modern brands.
Rivals Scrambling to Keep Pace
The auto industry is being turned on its head, largely due to Tesla’s innovation. Despite that, the market has been slow to welcome Tesla’s cars with open arms, in part because they are so new in an industry where most brands are long-standing, and well truste.
Tesla’s main competitors are major players in the auto industry: Ford, General Motors, and Honda. In 2018, the five most popular electric vehicles were:
- Chevrolet Volt
- Tesla Model S
- Hyundai Ioniq EV
- Tesla Model 3
- Volkswagen e-Golf
Though Tesla didn’t clench the top spot, it’s worth noting that two of its vehicles ranked in the top 5.
With very few true electric vehicles put out by competitors, Tesla has a small crop to contend with. In May of 2019, Tesla’s sales were 2.6 times that of the electric vehicle sales of its competitors, combined. This speaks to a still-emerging trend that is likely far from peaking, and even further from declining.
Despite little profit to speak of due to the fact that the company is continually reinvesting in itself to create new products and strengthen infrastructure, Tesla’s growth should frighten the titans of the automobile industry.
On Everyone’s Radar
Disruptors of the status quo naturally stay perched in the forefront of most minds, and this is exactly the case for Tesla. The brand receives a massive amount of publicity, just by right of its endeavors, without actually dedicating money to exposure.
Some of this has to do with the fact that many celebrities have touted their Teslas on social media; even mega-stars like Kanye West have taken to Twitter to comment on the brand in recent years. Another source of visibility is Elon Musk’s active social media habits, as he frequently responds to criticism with quippy retorts. Moreover, Musk is open about the fact that Tesla’s products are a work in progress, as any truly revolutionary technology is.
Another major source of visibility came in early 2018 when a Roadster was launched into space as part of Tesla’s still-emerging branch: SpaceX.
Part of The Process
One of the biggest concerns over Tesla is their autopilot function. On a number of occasions, drivers have reported that this system failed to perform properly, leading to injuries or death. These problems arise when obstacles appear suddenly, something that the Tesla manual warns autopilot isn’t equipped to deal with deftly.
In any case, the Tesla team continues to unveil new safety features, like lane drifting avoidance, in an attempt to remedy public concerns. For Musk, bugs with new technology are to be expected as part of the development process.
Making Leaps and Bounds
In 2019, Tesla ranks 144th on the Fortune 500. Just last year, Tesla made the list at 260, jumping a head spinning 116 spots. This is due in part to the fact that revenue rose by 82.5%. However, profits did not fare so well, as the company continues to reinvest in new projects.
With 2019 being Tesla’s 3rd year on the Fortune 500 List, it’s hard telling how far the company will rise in 2020.
Despite being a baby as compared to other auto companies, it seems increasingly likely that one way or another, Tesla will be a household name by the end of the 21st century.