There have been three pivotal moments in the history of the car;
1. 1885, Carl Benz invents the Benz-Patent-Motorwagen
2. October 1, 1908, the day Ford's model T was put into mass-production
3. June 22, 2012, Tesla's first mass-market car, the Model S goes on sale
Without hese three moments, the car industry would either not exist, be unfeasible, or in the case of Tesla, have no foreseeable future. With each of these three moments the automobile experienced a tectonic shift, one which would leave its mark on the world.
For all of its shortcomings, we must acknowledge that Tesla has made a dent in the universe. Prior to the Model S, electric cars were perceived as nothing more than golf carts, something which nobody with even the slightest bit of dignity would be caught dead in.
Tesla changed that in 2012 when they released the Model S. In symbiosis it was hailed as ten years ahead of its time by various publications such as Motortrend, who went so far as to say it was a car which represents "the very qualities that once made the American automobile industry the largest, richest, and most powerful in the world".
This statement has held true, because nearly eight years later there isn't a quicker production car in the world, nor a safer car, nor a more technologically advanced car that isn't a Model S.
There remain only two successful automakers in the United St, ones who have never gone out of business, merged, or collapsed; Ford and Tesla.
This feat is alone in itself something which over the 100 year history of the car few have ever achieved, and with Ford's future product line under intense scrutiny it is hard to tell where this list may go.
The "Master Plan"
Back in August of 2006 newly minted Tesla CEO Elon Musk published something called the "Tesla Masterplan"
Musk summed it up best, when at the end of his write-up he 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
While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options
Don't tell anyone."
These cars respectively represent the Roadster, the Model S, and finally the Model 3; three vehicles which few imagined would ever be built, let alone successful.
Amazingly, amid a worldwide recession, increasing skepticism about electric cars, and a less than supportive industry Tesla, a startup automaker has become America's most valuable automaker, surpassing GM by nearly $22 billion in market cap.
This is quite an achievement as the automobile industry is known as one of the hardest to break into, and is notorious for spitting out newcomers. However, by a combination of sheer luck, skill, engineering, and a little bit of weed Tesla have for now at least managed to eek their way through, and have even enjoyed several months of profitability.
Well, in case you're interested there is a Master Plan Part Deux sitting on Tesla's website, published a decade after the original and it reads:
"So, in short, Master Plan, Part Deux is:
Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
Enable your car to make money for you when you aren't using it"
These three goals, in conjunction with everything else Tesla plan on doing, can provide a decent insight into both the future of Tesla, and the future of the automobile as an institution. There have been few moments in automotive history during which we could witness a tectonic shift in the future of the automobile, but I think it's a pretty safe bet that this has been one of them.