Published on March 1st, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan
March 1st, 2019 by Zachary Shahan
One of the lessons you can learn in just about any arena of life is that having a simple, specific, clear focus is how you accomplish big things. You have to cut out distractions and keep your focus on that one target, on the most simplified mission.
Nearly 13 years ago, Elon Musk laid out Tesla’s prime tangible target, and the targets that would lead to that target. At the 10 year marker, I noted verbosely that Tesla’s plan was coming to life. But the young company was still a ways off from accomplishing its ultimate target, or its two ultimate targets.
The secret master plan didn’t actually spell out Tesla’s overarching goal, its mission, which is what I’d consider its ultimate target. But that mission has been repeated by Elon Musk and Tesla many times and was basically implied in the secret master plan. From Tesla itself, the mission is: “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” With the Tesla Model 3 becoming the #1 top selling car in California in the second half of 2018, becoming one of the top 5 cars in the United States in that timeframe (or #11 in all of 2018), and absolutely busting through the barriers to mass market status, it’s clear that Tesla accomplished the second half of the that mission statement (“bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible”). Perhaps more importantly is the first half, accelerating the transition, which Tesla has also done on a large scale. Tesla has inspired competitive electric vehicle models (mostly under development still) from most of the major automakers. Additionally, the company has shown governments that people actually do want compelling electric vehicles, which empowers those governments to implement strong EV policies — and even pushes them to do so. For sure, some of the strong auto policies around the world were inspired by Tesla, and those policies are forcing automakers to develop and produce more EVs.
So, while the transition is far from over, I’m giving Tesla a “task accomplished” on this one. The company has clearly and powerfully accelerated the transition to a clean transport future.
The other three accomplishments which I was alluding to in the headline are more direct and more tangible. In 2006, Elon wrote:
So, in short, the master plan is:
- Build sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
Tesla did all of those things. The focus was simple, but the tasks all along the way were tremendously difficult. Nonetheless, Tesla did build an electric sports car, did build a somewhat mass market vehicle (the Model S), and then did build a truly mass market “affordable” car (the Model 3). I imagine Elon didn’t realize it would be so hard — he has said as much many times — but he kept his focus and chipped away at each problem for more than a decade.
I see we’ve had a lot of people writing about these accomplishments in various ways today. (I had fun editing the articles.) Perhaps that seems obsessive, but it is such a huge milestone accomplished after so many years that I think it’s hard to not share our thoughts on this and put our own commentary on the historic day/week. It happened. Tesla did it. Elon put the flag in the sand. The world is changed, for the better.
It’s a big deal that brings me back to what I wrote when Tesla opened up its Gigafactory in 2016: “The big deal isn’t even about Elon or Tesla. The big deal is the capability of humans to dream, the capability to risk a great deal for an extremely slim but worthwhile possibility. The big deal is the human capacity to dream of things that seem impossible at first glance, and then to actually get to work achieving those dreams.”
With these 4 top Tesla missions checked off as accomplished, what’s next? Well, there’s Tesla’s 2nd Secret Master Plan (Part Deux), but I think there’s really just one key mission remaining: to keep accelerating the transition. That is done by continuing to improve the vehicles (and energy products), continuing to cut the costs, and continuing to pump out the acceleration stimulant for the rest of the market. Yes?
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