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Tesla’s contribution to the auto industry and to all of us

Tesla Freemont production line

A recent article on Tesla’s endeavor to become a “real car company” with its Model C and what we can learn out of it. (Bloomberg Businessweek’s Article)

In my view Elon Musk already won the battle to break the paradigm of personal mobility. His bet to introduce an affordable, reliable, cool design e-car has forced the whole auto industry to action: from no. 1 in sales in 2019, Tesla will go down to no. 7 by 2021, according to a recent analysis by PA Consulting Group. This is not a defeat for Tesla, is the sign that traditional brands have finally put all their horsepower into this market.

For now, reaching 5000 jobs per week seems to be a “hell of a job” as reported in this article. But what are the takeaways from this exciting experience of industrial engineering and management? What could have been done differently?

  • From the beginning of the development of Model C, Elon Musk has been pushing for highest automation possible, with the wrong believe that this would have given higher productivity and safety
  • His leadership style has been often criticized for not being able to leverage the human capital. For instance again on automation, his team of experienced auto engineers was aware of the risk of automation, but didn’t dare to state it clear to “the boss”.
  • The same attitude of “do it myself”, led to the risky decision of manufacturing in-house most of those components that traditional automakers outsource e.g., seats. Leveraging supplier’s competence could have made the path easier.
  • Again on leadership, he set too ambitious targets to his team e.g., start-of-production in only 28 months for a complete new car concept!
  • Admittedly, Model C and the Freemont factory have been too much for one shot! No carmaker would ever launch a new car with a new team in a new factory, without considering the highest risk of such endeavor e.g., giving more time for development.

All in all, I believe that Elon Musk might not yet have achieved his goals and those of Tesla’s shareholders nor be the leader that we all would like to have as a boss, but with the history of Tesla, Musk is inspiring many visionary entrepreneurs to dare for the impossible and leave a sign for everybody.