By Matthew Alvarez
A lot of people wonder when the future’s coming, while others make it.
That’s what Tesla is currently doing, and most everyday folks either don’t know or don’t care about it unfortunately.
A revolution of how we use energy to power our homes and transport ourselves is on the horizon, and the future is very bright.
For over a hundred years, the oil and car manufacturing industries have had smooth sailing, not just dominating their respective fields but also literally controlling how we as a species power the world.
That incredibly strong foundation is however, starting to show small cracks with concepts like climate change earning widespread recognition and evidence that we might be running out of fossil fuels sooner than later. Whether we want it to or not, the methods we use today to extract and use energy has to change, and Tesla is leading the way in widening those cracks.
Let’s start with a bit of context as to why Tesla is more than just your average high end car dealer. The company was founded by Elon Musk (a dude who not only created PayPal, but is currently running SpaceX, SolarCity and Tesla).
Realizing that electric cars could not only be practical, but also eventually affordable, Musk set out to create just that vision.
Tesla’s plan from the beginning was to make the Model 3 (which we’ll get to soon), but they needed capital and trust from the automobile market before, so they made the Roadster, a high end 100% supercar that goes 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.
Then came the Model S, a 4 door electric luxury sedan that goes 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds and has the highest safety rating of any vehicle ever, followed by the Model X, an electric luxury SUV. The sales, high praise and recognition from these three EV’s (Electric Vehicles) paved the way for the flagship product that has every tech geek and automobile enthusiast either panicking or cheering for, the Model 3.
There’s a reason The Model 3 made over 325,000 preorders with a $1000 deposit within days of its announcement.
Without any significant advertising the company has captured the world’s attention with its grassroots origins and completely unique business operation.
Tesla built their cars from scratch, reworking the idea of what makes a car, all with the goal of making the Model 3.
It starts at $35,000, goes from 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds, has a 5 star safety rating in all categories, can drive up to 215 miles on a single charge, and has autopilot. Oh and that’s just the basic version of it, Tesla is known to continuously update their vehicles, beefing up both software and hardware.
Alright cool, all that has somehow failed to impress you, so why should you care?
Because that package comes in the same price range as a Cadillac ATS, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes CLA, and Lexus IS (without Tax incentives). The Model 3 won’t just be competing with high end luxury vehicles like its predecessors, but will now enter the market of middle class affordable vehicles, which is the most important market to tap if they want to reach their goal of selling 500,000 Model 3’s.
The Model 3 is offering quality on par with luxury brands while staying just above current competitor EV prices. Tesla already proved you don’t need to sacrifice the commodities of a gas powered sports car for an electric engine, so if they keep up their end of the deal with the Model 3 they’ll prove that you can get more out of an electric powered car than whatever you’re driving right now.
To accomplish this very, very ambitious goal, Tesla started building their own battery production plant, a lithium ion battery Gigafactory, which will also happen to be the second largest building in the world volume wise.
Other than needing their own supply of mass produced car batteries, Tesla built this plant with another end goal in mind: Driving up the global supply of lithium ion batteries while cutting down production costs by getting rid of the middlemen, which in turn lowers prices of the battery by a projected 30%.
This is crucial for Tesla if they want to produce the Model 3s both in time and for a profit. Once production begins sometime in 2017, the Gigafactory will aim to double the world’s production of these batteries by 2020 when it becomes fully operational. To account for the lack of infrastructure to supplement long range travels with an EV, Tesla is building hundreds of charging stations worldwide along highways and major cities, called Superchargers, giving incentives for people who like to take long distance trips.
Of course all these magical accomplishments haven’t come without massive struggles. Tesla’s stocks have zig-zagged since its inception, and they almost went completely bankrupt in 2008.
They have pushed back every deadline they have ever set, and every new venture they take still has incredible risk to fail. Even with their impressive growth, their projected and current numbers only make a small dent in the auto industry compared to other EV’s (even if those other cars are of inferior quality).
There are endless reports on the obstacles Tesla has ahead of itself, which include likely deadlines pushes, lack of resources, long term failure to lower costs, and ultimately the demand for their vehicles outside of tech-savvy wealthy liberals (frankly). It’s important to understand all these upcoming challenges are valid and apparent, even if Tesla is currently addressing them.
What has seemed to be ignored by a lot of reports are the possibilities and implications the Model 3 would give not just Western society, but the future.
The optimistic future pans out if the Model 3 continues to run its hype train reaching 500,000 sales, and have the Gigafactory reach full manufacturing capacity by 2020 with only minimal deadline setbacks. At that point Tesla would cement itself as a serious threat to anything powered by gasoline. And of course there is the future beyond Model 3. Musk has always said that Tesla’s main focus would go to low cost, widely available products, so it only makes sense that we could possibly see cheaper versions of the Model S and Model X along with new models.
On top of its own growth, the influence Tesla has given to the rest of the industry to start experimenting with electrically powered vehicles has started seeing significant results. Cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt have gained traction, and more companies are pushing towards creating hybrids and EV’s every year.
With everything thrown at it, and every odd against it, Tesla has gotten this far and that’s an accomplishment in itself. They have passed their proving grounds, now Tesla is standing up to the test of time. It won’t be easy for them to reach the finish line that they are quite literally still building, but the change has started.
Electric cars are just a small step that the world will have to embrace and take if we want optimize our long term energy habits for generations to come. A world where you charge your car every night like you do your phone is closer than you think, and will need to be.
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