Tesla is a company on a mission, a mission architected in the mind of it’s CEO Elon Musk, a mission to, “Accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” Tesla is not so different to many of the companies out there, including us, attempting to accelerate the adoption of sustainable energy production — the renewable economy as a whole is on a grand mission to slow the effects of climate change — but there is something particularly extraordinary about the plight of Tesla.
Every now and again the headlines are adorned with stories of either the successes of Tesla, or its imminent failure. Most recently, Tesla announced that its goal to produce 500,000 units per year by 2020 had been revised. Given the fact that most analysts, experts and journalists alike predicted that Tesla would not be able to increase its output tenfold in only 5 years, Elon might have decided the company should follow a more realistic timeline.
This was not the case.
In fact, Tesla pushed their production goal forward two years to 2018 instead. This is not particularly surprising as Elon Musk has a history of what most onlookers would deem to be delusionary optimism in regards to setting deadlines for his companies. Not only did the company move forward its production timelines, but expects to double its capacity by the year 2020 to 1 million units.
Silicon Valley follows the thinking that one should ‘under promise and over deliver’. Musk seems to ‘overpromise’ on nearly every deadline he has ever released to the press. Luckily for Musk, Tesla seems to be the new starchild of Silicon Valley, now that Apple is all grown up, so media hype has carried the Electric Car company thus far.
That being said, should you expect to see Tesla’s electric vehicles becoming commonplace in just two years?
Well, let's take a look at Tesla’s track record. It’s easy to get caught up in the fanfare surrounding Tesla’s product releases and forget that Tesla has a history of falling behind. For example, the Model X, the company's answer to the growing SUV market, was 2 years behind schedule.
That might come as a shock to most people, seeing as Tesla often displays it side by side with the Model S and the Roadster (Tesla’s first electric vehicle), as if it had proved to be an entirely successful endeavour. In reality, the Model X can only be attained through reserving a spot in the growing waiting list of prospective buyers. Tesla may be experts at building attractive vehicles, but they are struggling to bring their creations to the market.
You only have to google ‘model s behind schedule’, to find articles from 2012 describing how Tesla had to cut revenue forecasts due to the fact the Model S wasn’t ready ship, which resulted in a Tesla stock slide. It has almost become expected of Tesla to fall short of its own lofty ambitions.
In fact, when Tesla announced that it was pushing forward its goal of manufacturing 500,000 cars a year its stock dropped by 10%. If any other company were to give such announcement, Wall St. would sing its praises. But, there is a reason that Tesla and Musk get away with all this.
Tesla know how to deliver.
Tesla doesn’t just build electric cars, to be frank, it’s building the vehicles of the future and at the same is bending both the auto industry and the laws of economics to its will. Tesla is a leader in innovation and since its rise to fame has forced industry giants like General Motors and BMW to follow suit.
The Model S, Tesla’s flagship vehicle, isn’t just the first desirable long range electric vehicle, it’s also the fastest four door car in existence, the first vehicle to popularise autopilot, a pinnacle of safety and most of all an advanced computer with the software to match.
So to answer the question, if history repeats itself, which it often does, then it's very likely Tesla will fail to achieve its goal of 500,000 vehicles per annum. But, rest assured that when it does eventually bring its vehicles, including the Model 3, to the mass market and achieves its production targets, it will change the auto industry forever, and maybe the days of the combustion engine will slowly come to an end.