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Published on EVANNEX on November 15, 2021, By Charles Morris
There are many pundits that publish predictions, prognostications, or polemics. Tesla every day, some “get it” and some don’t. Many people will never be able understand how a company which supplies less than 1% of the global auto market can grow to a market capitalization of over $1 trillion. more than a trillion dollars—more than the value of the legacy automakers combined.
Above: Elon Musk showcasing his 360-degree approach to clean energy at Tesla with solar, battery storage, and electric cars (Source: Tesla)
Many of these scribers fail to realize that Tesla has more than just making money for its shareholders. It has done a good job of that too. Yes, every company has a “mission” statement and a “vision” statement, but most of these are not to be taken seriously.
Those who tear their hair out over Tesla’s (to them) inexplicable stock-market performance assume that the company’s mission is like all the rest—meaningless marketing fluff. “Save the polar bears, make a better world for our grandchildren, yeah, yeah, sure,” says the grizzled, world-weary Wall Street analyst. “Talk about that stuff all you want, as long as you maximize profits.”
I submit that many of Tesla’s customers, investors and fans do not see things in this cynical light. Could it be that part of the reason for the company’s unprecedented success is that millions of people really do have hope for a future with cleaner air? That they understand that today’s oil-fueled transportation system is driving us towards disaster and that making the switch to electric vehicles is a necessary step to avert climate catastrophe?
This is only a small part of the story. Many Tesla buyers have zero interest in the polar bear thing—they’re attracted by the head-snapping acceleration, the fun high-tech features, or the chance to show off their wealth and coolness to their neighbors. In fact, the Tesla founders’ firm grasp of this fact of life was one of the company’s ace cards from the beginning. Musk, Tarpenning Wright, Wright, Straubel, and Tarpenning were all driven by greenness. However they knew very well that most car buyers weren’t. Trying to sell an electric car on its environmental bona fides was (and still is) a losing proposition, so they set out to build “not the best electric cars, but the best cars.” And the rest is history.
Some might argue that Tesla has deviated from its mission. Tesla seems to have abandoned the idea of making an EV affordable for the masses, as it raises its prices regularly. Snubbing environmental leader California and embracing insurrectionist, climate-change-denying Texas has certainly rubbed some of Tesla’s long-time supporters the wrong way. Despite these missteps I believe that Tesla is still a positive force and that the mission will continue.
Above: Tesla’s journey towards a trillion-dollar valuation (YouTube) Billster)
Legacy automakers such as VWAnd GM, and make no mistake about it—this would not be happening if Tesla weren’t breaking stock-market records. Government regulation (specifically, California’s ZEV mandate and Europe’s tightening emissions standards) has played a positive role, but political winds are variable, and they’re starting to shift. Governments were keen to support EVs when they were a promising young technology, but now that electromobility is plainly the future, we’re already seeing signs that government efforts will be redirected to protecting oil industry profits (excuse me, I meant jobs).
Money moves markets and economic forces influence history, for better or worse. Tesla has proven that there’s big money to be made selling electric vehicles, and the profit proposition grows clearer every day. That’s why the legacy automakers are following trendsetter Tesla down the electric road, and it must continue to lead them until they pass the point of no return.
Tesla has stated from the beginning that everyone should drive an electric vehicle, regardless of brand. Recent actions such as the opening up of the Supercharger network and Elon Musk’s controversial pep talk for VW execs indicate that this is still the case.
The EV revolution isn’t unfolding as we would like. It’s unfortunate that industry workers and management are squaring off for a fight over impending job losses; that EVs remain out of reach for lower-income drivers; and that Tesla’s CEO continues to alienate his natural allies with a steady stream of divisive public statements.
Regardless, the show must continue. Sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reasons; we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good; it is what it is. No matter what your opinion, keep the faith and remember that pollution is our common enemy. We strike a blow against it every time an EV crosses the road.
Written by: Charles Morris