Tesla has an extreme presence in the media and this is not one of the usual articles about Elon Musk and Model 3. It's about the clash between two cultures and the end of the auto industry, as we knew it before.
Tesla Motors is not a car manufacturer in the traditional sense - not in terms of corporate culture. If you want to make comparisons, please go to Apple or Google. Musk comes from the world of IT, the cosmos of short product cycles and high innovation pressure, but also the updates, which are followed by a bug fix 3 hours later. If you had anything in mind when presenting Model 3, it was Apple. Queues in front of the Tesla stores, comparable to Cupertino and a new product, were the benchmark.
The operation was a success, and more than that. What Tesla is celebrating is an end to the auto industry as we know it. Tesla rocks the market, delivers great entertainment. Without a massive budget, but a movement over the web. And no matter what the future of Tesla will look like, whether you fail or win, history has been made by now at the latest.
- Tesla Motors (@TeslaMotors) 31. March 2016
The lines of people in front of the Tesla stores last week were longer, the numbers more impressive. The first reports, 115.000 pre-orders, or an annual production in 2-shift operation in the Stallbacka factory, were quickly corrected upwards. 180.000, then 198.000, and at the latest now the old Saab factory should have surrendered. The last stand, on Saturday morning: 253.000 pre-orders. Half of Volvo's annual production, reserved in 2 days. Musk's reaction? You have to rethink production planning ...
253.000 people have signed, not every pre-order will be a delivery. But, and that's the point, the reservations flush more than a quarter of a billion dollars into the coffers. 253.000 People who can be considered educated and progressive trust a company that is relatively young and not profitable.
So far, you only knew similar things from Ferrari or Porsche. Where well-off, gray-haired men were allowed to subscribe to a limited production in order to make them disappear under the exclusion of the public in air-conditioned underground garages. The automobile infantry could read about it in the newspaper, as a side note of the unreachable. And now? Rock`n Roll.
Tesla is different, in every respect. A closed circuit that carries out everything from production to contact with the customer. Own charging stations, no dealers, only direct sales. No discounts on the vehicles, the list price is binding. The automotive industry will see this with respect and discomfort. Less because of the cars, as some companies closer to Tesla than it seems. More because of redefining the relationship between customer and product.
Sweden's largest automaker is considered innovative. A speedboat among cruise liners, and yet a rowboat compared to Tesla. It took Volvo 47 hours on September 3 and 4, 2015 to sell 1.927 copies of its XC90 over the Internet. That was considered a success and very brave. Even if many of these vehicles went to “brand ambassadors”. In 47 hours, 232.000 Model 3s were reserved at Tesla, that alone shows the difference.
What happens if Musk keeps his course? We live in a time of planning uncertainty, things can change quickly, forecasts are difficult. One thing is for sure, Musk is already changing an industry. And we do not talk about the electric car.
It's about corporate culture, customer relationships, the cutting off of old braids. Tesla could become Apple 2.0, mobility and brand choice could become more of a mission in itself than ever before. If Musk continues on its way, if it attracts imitators, then we experience the end of innovation refusals and facelifts without added value.
An industry, two speeds, will not work. Cars are becoming computers, product cycles are shrinking, innovations are coming via download. Musk brings speed and rock'n roll. Not everybody likes it. I like that.