Elon Musk, the South-African born entrepreneur, is definitely one of the most important figures in the present day science, technology and business world. In the beginning of his career he was one of the original founders of PayPal. Today his company Tesla is making striking innovations that are going to revolutionize all aspects of human life – from the way we commute and do home and office and commercial goods removals due to the self-driving technology the company is implementing in the cars they produce to space travel and the use of renewable energy.
At the Tesla Motors 2016 annual shareholder meeting which took place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, Musk had a few things to tell about the history of the company and the original philosophy that was behind it. Some of them were quite interesting to hear, like:
- The Grand Scheme, or the Master Plan. When the company was created in 2006, Musk had been thinking about it for well over a decade. What he wanted was to produce automobiles, but not just automobiles, but highly-priced, low volume vehicles that used electricity instead of petrol or other oil products. The idea was to use the profits from these cars in order to fund the production of other models. Most of the people who was with him at the beginning still work for the company and believe in their mission, even if it sounds a bit utopist to many – “We say things we believe even if what we believe may be delusional.”
- The risk and inspiration. The first model that inspired all that was to come was the AC Propulsion T-Zero, never intended for mass-production. It cost between 300k and 400k USD to produce just one unit, which run on acid-batteries and could run for 250 miles on one charge. 98% percent of the money that were originally invested in the company came from Musk himself – his profit from selling the shares in PayPal. This was a risky move, because electric cars were rather untrendy at the time, but Tesla Motors’ owner believes that you cannot ask people to invest their own money unless you do the same with yours.
- There have been a number of foul-starts. For example, when they started working on the prototype of the first Tesla car, everybody thought that they are going to use the technology from the T-Zero model, which proved to be impossible. Then again, for the design of the car, they were planning on modifying the Lotus Elise, a rather trendy model at the time. Eventually however, both premises proved to be untrue from technological, as well as from a legal point of view. The team had to think up a completely new approach. Fortunately, based on the results that we are all seeing ten years into the work, they have managed to come up with proper solutions to all their problems – and improve upon the work that has already been done in the field.