Tesla is, at its core, an engineering company. The company as we know it today was founded on the building blocks of lithium-ion batteries and electric motors. Having an early interest and exposure to supercapacitors, Elon Musk saw the potential with lithium-ion and electric motors and ultimately found the golden combination he was looking for at AC Propulsion.
AC Propulsion’s tZero sparked his interest and ultimately convinced Musk to invest, invest, and invest again into what eventually became Tesla. He was the most critical element and investor keeping it afloat as the company worked to move from prototype to production of the original Tesla Roadster. The fuel for that first car was not gasoline, nor diesel, and not even electrons — it was innovation. Yes, Tesla Motors (which is now just Tesla) would never have moved an inch but for that electrifying force that lit up the hearts and minds of the creators to bring the company into existence.
Each and every step Tesla took was the result of a relentless push to birth not just a new car, but a completely new generation of vehicles that it believed had the potential to change the world, to save humanity from itself. Electrification disconnected the car from the quintessential tailpipe. Eliminating the emissions from the car itself allows for cleaner air immediately and even less pollution as renewable energy generation is gradually phased into the grid, cleaning up the footprint of all the vehicles pulling current from that grid over time.
Tesla saw and still sees electric cars as the next inevitable step in the evolution of transportation. We must move away from finite fossil fuels, because we are going to run out. We cannot continue to consume at the rates we currently are, since we simply do not have enough extractable resources for that. Electrifying transportation brings with it the promise of taking us one big step towards a cleaner, more sustainable future for everyone — and a more secure and sustainable economy, as well.
Furthermore, catastrophic climate change is inevitable at this point. The only question left on the table is about how bad it will be. How high will the oceans rise? How hot will the new hot be? How many millions will be displaced? Will we be able to grow enough food? These questions are important reminders of why we do what we do here at CleanTechnica and why Tesla does what it does. They are foundational questions that we should all ask ourselves, if only as reminders that the world is changing because of our actions.
Elon Musk took up the challenge of attacking catastrophic climate change with Tesla, and with that, he injected his “first principles” approach to solving problems, which starts every problem-solving adventure by distilling the issue down to its root cause. Once the bones of the problem are laid bare, solutions can be assembled, arranged, and orchestrated one LEGO brick at a time. Each step forward must be validated and vetted to ensure that it truly is a step forward and moves the team closer to the best possible solution.
In this world, there are no sacred cows, no part of the car, part of the battery, or part of the team that is beyond reproach. Everything is looked at with a critical eye, or better yet, multiple pairs of critical eyes. It is this vicious cycle of tearing down and reassembling that moves things forward, that results in the best possible solution to a problem.
For example, if we start with the premise that a car has its motor under the hood or that it must have a steering wheel, we may miss out on the biggest opportunity to improve the vehicle. Perhaps it’s better to put the motors inside each wheel? Perhaps cars should now or soon be designed to forego the steering wheel or at least make it easily removable? Tesla has built a company on top of a pile of broken bones of auto industry assumptions by redefining normal each step of the way.
Electric cars aren’t fun? This one is! They can’t go more than a few miles per charge? Ours can. They look weird? If weird means awesome, count us in. Charging takes forever. Check out our nanochargers. Driving an electric car is as much fun as driving a toaster down the road. We put the batteries in the floorboard, called it a skateboard (now everybody is doing it), and the handling is amazing! The list goes on and just keeps getting longer.
If we start with the premise that the world must eventually move off of oil because there is only so much down there, something must replace it. Tesla has established itself as the leading manufacturer of next-generation electric vehicles by relentlessly pursuing the next thing. When the company built the Roadster, the Model S was next. The X followed. And then the big next step — a $35,000 long-range electric vehicle. Tesla dropped that bomb a few weeks ago and quickly followed it up with Act Two of this play, the Model Y unveiling.
The speed Tesla is moving is unprecedented. No other automaker in existence is moving at the speed Tesla is moving. The difference is the approach it is taking to engineering and innovation. At Tesla, the two are woven together in a tangled skein of corporate culture that instills in every employee the need to get better, to get faster, to get cheaper, and to make the best damn whatever-it-is-you-make possible.
Seats? Check. Motors? Yup. Batteries? Constantly improving. Inverters, wires, suspension, user interface, interior design, door handles, roof, windshield, center console, cup holders? Yeah, Tesla is a beast when it comes to innovation and automotive engineering. The company’s insatiable desire to improve itself in all areas continues to propel Tesla to new heights and pushes its products to the top of their fields.
Look at safety. Most automakers don’t talk about safety because it is not a priority, but that sucks. Why is protecting the people inside the car not more important? Hey, wait a minute, I’m usually the person in the car. You jerks! It’s one of those not-so-sexy parts of the car that we’d just rather not pay more for. Active safety features are usually tucked into one of the higher trim packages, reserved for buyers with pockets flush with cash. That’s not me. Never has been and probably won’t ever be.
That’s why I love that Tesla engineers its vehicles to be the safest vehicles out there. The Tesla Model S, X, and 3 are all at the top of their respective categories in safety, with the Model S being so safe that it actually broke a damn safety testing machine, as if to say ever so bluntly that, “I’m so safe that I literally break the safety scale.” Tesla’s fundamental approach to safety in not just vehicle engineering and design but also in its innovative software, which has re-baselined safety across the entire automotive industry. It has customers asking, “is your car as safe as a Tesla?” — as they rightfully should. A new bar has been set and Tesla is the top dog when it comes to automotive safety.
Safety is yet another compelling reason for buyers to choose Tesla. Want the most environmentally friendly car? Tesla. Want the safest car for your family? Tesla. Looking for the best autonomous driving technology? Tesla. How about the car and company with the best, fastest public charging network? Tesla. The most intuitive, technologically advanced user interface? The best handling? Fastest 0-60 time? The car everyone else is copying? The car with the best built-in games? Yeah … the list goes on, but we won’t bore you with the details (here, at least).
Tesla Has Engineering & Innovation Running Through The Veins Of Its Corporate Culture
These innovations stem from a culture that can’t stop, won’t stop. Engineers inside Tesla push relentlessly, continuously, for better products, and those innovations don’t just make it onto a chart pad to die in some corporate conference room like they do in most traditional corporations. Rather, they are tested, vetted, improved, and integrated into Tesla’s vehicles, seats, batteries, and energy products. It’s radical, freaking impressive.
Tesla plugged its purpose into the foundational belief that products can be much better than they are and continues to plow larger and larger investments into that belief. Nearly every year it has been in existence, it has increased its production output 50% over the previous year. Last year, the Model 3 finally arrived en masse. The Model Y is next. Then the Tesla Semi and Tesla Pickup.