The story of Tesla - Electric Revolution.
How Elon Musk changed the world's view and accelerated the growth of Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles today are seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to your regular internal combustion engine powered car. Powered by batteries and not on fuel, no emissions are produced, which means that you are doing a favor to reducing the Earth's increasing carbon footprint. And these days, you are commended for driving an electric vehicle, as governments of some countries tend to lower taxes for electric vehicle drivers.
Electric vehicles are also widely known for their blisteringly fast 0-60 times, most of which are under 6 seconds, thanks to electric motors granting instantaneous torque for all electric vehicles. In modern society, the world is making a huge transition from gasoline powered cars to electric cars, with more and more electric cars under development and more charging stations built than ever today, thanks to one man, Elon Musk, and his brainchild, Tesla.
Elon Musk, founder and CEO of PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and a few other companies.
Tesla's founder, Elon Musk is widely known for his efforts to bring humanity to a brighter future. Whether its for a greener future, or a future on Mars, he's one of the world's greatest innovators of the twenty-first century. Born in South Africa in 1971, he's the founder and CEO of several companies, namely The Boring Company, specializing in underground transportation, SpaceX, specializing in aerospace technology, and Tesla Motors, specializing in electric vehicles.
Growing up in South Africa, Musk had a pretty rough childhood, as he was severely bullied, along with being hospitalized at one point after he was beaten up so badly. In 1989, he moved to Canada to enroll in Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. He then headed to Stanford University in California where he got his PhD in energy physics. At the time, the internet was booming, so Musk dropped out of college to pursue opportunities the Internet would give.
He was the founder of several startups, most notable being Zip2 and PayPal. After selling shares of both companies and receiving $187 million in equity, Musk decided to start up a third company, SpaceX. He conceptualized the Mars Oasis, a Martian colony, and had gained support from many different companies. Currently, he is CEO of SpaceX specializing in rocket designing and building, with models such as the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy, and the Dragon.
Elon Musk and the Tesla Roadster.
In the year 2003, engineers Martin Ebenhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla. Named after Serbian physicist Nikola Tesla, the two founders envisioned a future where no compromises would be made when driving an electric car. They wanted to prove that electric cars can be as quick, as fun to drive, and as reliable as a conventional gasoline-powered car, if not even better. Both had imagined a green, zero-emissions future that humanity can look forward to.
A few months later after the founding the company, investors Elon Musk, J. B. Straubel, and Ian Wright joined Tesla. Musk would then climb up the company becoming the main chairman and CEO in 2008, envisioning Tesla not as just an automobile manufacturer, but a diverse technology company. He would also envision Tesla to be the automobile company to offer mass-produced electric cars to the average consumer at a low and affordable price.
In 2005, Tesla's business strategy begins. The company signed a deal with Lotus to produce gliders, or complete cars without a powertrain. Tesla decided to go with a sports car aimed at the higher class first to gain a reputation among the people that Tesla is a premium performance car brand, in order to gain larger sales volumes for newer, more mass-market models. A year later, the Tesla Roadster was unveiled to the public.
The first generation Tesla Roadster
In 2006, the public had a preview of the car, after its prototype had been revealed to the press in Santa Monica, California, at an invite-only event. Public reactions were stellar, with Time Magazine awarding it the "Best Invention" award in 2006 under the transportation category. The first edition of the Tesla Roadster, the Signature One Hundred series sold out in less than three weeks. The second batch of a hundred cars were also sold out in a quick period of time. Production began in March 2008, with Elon Musk receiving the first example of the Tesla Roadster, launched into outer space ten years later by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
The car was powered by Tesla's Energy Storage System, which comprises of 6,831 Lithium Ion cells arranged into 11 sheets connected in series. Each sheet contains 9 bricks, each containing 69 cells in parallel. The power cells of the Roadster are similar to ones found in laptop batteries, however that fact is still debatable, as some suggest that Lithium-Cobalt Oxide cells are used. Safety measures such as a highly advanced cooling system are put in place to prevent the batteries from doing what is called a thermal runaway, where a runaway reaction of thermal gain and combustion, typical in batteries.
Reviews of the Roadster were generally mixed. Some journalists praised the Roadster's mind-boggling acceleration. Richard Meaden from EVO Magazine descried the Tesla's acceleration as "alien", and says that you could "murder anything, be it a 911 Turbo, GT-R or even a 599." Derek Kreindler of Autoguide Magazine calls the Roadster a "massively impressive vehicle, more spacecraft than sports car." and says that the Tesla shows "how good zero emissions technology can be." Jason Cammisa of Automobile Magazine called it the "Coolest car I've ever driven."
However, one famous negative review of the Tesla Roadster came from Jeremy Clarkson. In the year 2008, Clarkson had test drove a Tesla Roadster for the show Top Gear. He described the driving experience of the Roadster as "biblically quick" compared to the car it was based on, the Lotus Elise. However, Clarkson said that the car did not handle as good as the Lotus Elise, and the battery would go flat after just 89 kilometers (55 miles). The Stig had also lapped a slow time of 1:27:2 around the Top Gear Test Track, slower than a Porsche 911 and a Lotus Exige. In response, Tesla filed a lawsuit against the programme over "libel and malicious falsehood". In response, Top Gear's producer, Andy Wilman dismissed the claims, calling it a "crusade". In the end, Tesla lost the case, and was ordered to pay $100,000 in legal fees to the BBC.
The Model S
The pre-facelifted Tesla Model S.
After the Tesla Roadster, Tesla debut their second model, the Model S. Instead of a sports car, it was a large, full-size luxury sedan for the upper class market. The car had all new features that make it stand out of the crowd, one of them being the all-screen dashboard with a few buttons in sight. The car looked stunning and futuristic, compared to more boring looking rivals. The car also featured a completely flat rear floor, as a battery meant that there is no need for a driveshaft. It also featured a front cargo compartment, along with a rear hatch. And the one thing that made it stand out of the competition the most, it was quiet.
The Tesla Model S would be soon known for its blistering acceleration, with the fastest models going from 0-100 kph (0-60 mph) in a blistering 2.5 seconds, faster than even hypercars! It was all thanks to a new dual-motor system comprising of several thousand cylindrical battery cells, producing a combined output of 760 horsepower, even more powerful than some supercars! It was also even more aerodynamic than the competition, with a drag coefficient of just 0.24.
The Tesla Model S would be then updated with even more innovative features, one of them being "Bioweapon Defense Mode" where the car completely seals itself from the outside world and filters the air very thoroughly just in case of a nuclear attack. Definitely useful considering how tense the situation is between most governments today.
Response from the press were also stellar, with the car winning multiple awards such as the Hagerty's Greatest Car of the Decade, Motor Trend's Car of the Year in 2013, CNET's Car of the Year in 2012, 2013 World Green Car of the Year, and many more. A world distance record was also made with a Tesla Model S by the Italian Tesla Owners Club, clocking it at a distance of 1,080 kilometers, or 670 miles, making the Model S the first electric car to exceed 1,000 kilometers on a single charge.
The Model X
Tesla's Model X SUV
Tesla unveiled the Model X SUV Concept in 2012, previewing what a Tesla SUV would look like. Three years later, in 2015, the Model X went into production. Unlike most other SUVs that had a boxy look, the Model X has this curved and aerodynamic look to it. Also unlike most other SUVs were its performance, sharing the dual motor system of the Model S, making a total output of 762 horsepower. The Model X also shares the mind-boggling acceleration capabilities of the Model S, going from 0-100 kph (0-60 mph) in just 2.9 seconds, a tad bit slower than the Model S, but still very, very fast.
The Model X featured unique gullwing rear doors, called Falcon Wing doors that open upward and outward. Its lower half can also be retracted for easier opening in tight parking spaces. It featured a panoramic windshield, where the glass stretches all the way to the roof of the car. It also had a little trick up its sleeve called "party mode", playing music out of the car's speakers while flashing its lights and opening and closing its gullwing doors.
The reception of the Model X was mixed. Consumer Reports say that the all wheel drive 90D model disappoints, as the rear doors are prone to pausing and stopping, along with the second row seats being unable to fold, along with the panoramic roof not being tinted enough to prevent glare from the sun. Car And Driver Magazine gave it a more positive review, saying that it was like nothing else on the road today, as its effortless performance can't be matched by anything on the road today.
It even changed Jeremy Clarkson's view on Tesla! After giving his review on it, the first time he's given a review on a Tesla since the Roadster in 2008, he came to a positive conclusion, calling the car "fabulous" that is unlike anything else on the road. While filming the review, lawyers were present because Clarkson's review on the Roadster 10 years ago caused a lawsuit.
The Model 3
The entry-level Tesla Model 3
Despite producing high-end electric vehicles for the higher class, Elon Musk had not forgotten his initial goal with Tesla Motors, to make electric cars accessible to the public at an affordable price. To achieve that goal, Tesla produced the Model 3 entry level sedan. It did not have the bells and whistles of a Tesla Model S or X, but it was able to be mass produced, cheap and electric, just like Musk's original dream.
The Model 3 featured a minimalist dashboard, with only a steering wheel, and a center mounted LCD touchscreen. The Model 3 also carries over self-driving hardware to be optionally enabled at a future date. Within a week of unveiling the Model 3, Tesla had received 325,000 reservations and deposits for the car, translating into $14 billion in sales. The base Model 3 has a 50 kilowatt-hour battery good for about 352 kilometers, or 220 miles, while the higher spec AWD Performance variant can go 483 kilometers, or 308 miles. In 2018, the Model 3 surpassed the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord in sales, two of the best selling models in the segment.
The 2020 Tesla Roadster.
Future models of Tesla include the Tesla Semi, the Tesla Roadster, and the Tesla Model Y. The Tesla Semi is Tesla's take on a semi-trailer truck. Unlike other semi-trailer trucks that look really boxy, the Tesla Semi looks more aerodynamic, curved and streamlined. Tesla claims a range of up to 800 kilometers, 500 miles while hauling a load of 80,000 pounds or 37,000 kilograms. Tesla also claims that the Semi can accelerate from 0-100 kph or 0-60 mph in 20 seconds while carrying the same amount of payload.
The second generation Tesla Roadster made its debut alongside the Tesla Semi, and could redefine the definition of a supercar. Tesla claims that the new Roadster could go from 0-100 kph or 0-60 mph in just 1.8 seconds, reaching a top speed of over 400 kilometers per hour, or 250 miles per hour, faster than most hypercars today. We can't say that these claims are true, as no real world testing has been conducted, but a working prototype was shown to the public, and it looks rather convincing.
The third new model, the Tesla Model Y, is still rather obscure when it comes to details. We do not exactly know a lot about the new model, but expect it to be an electric crossover. Tesla claims that it is ready for production, but we still have to wait for its official debut.
Tesla owners have special access to the Tesla Supercharger, a 480-volt fast charger for all Tesla models. Compared to standard power outlets, which take about an entire night to charge, Tesla's Superchargers only require 75 minutes for a full charge. These charging stations provide high power direct-current charging from the power supply to the battery, up to 120 kW per car. The next generation of Tesla Superchargers are expected to have more than 350 kW of charging power. Tesla has a wide network of 1,359 superchargers around the world, with new ones under construction. Soon, Tesla will introduce the Tesla Megacharger to charge their Tesla Semi. They will be solar powered, charging the Semi 645 kilometers or 400 miles of range in thirty minutes. If accomplished, that would mean that each charger could provide to up to over one megawatt of power per charge, as powerful as a Koenigsegg One:1...
Tesla had also introduced Autopilot, Tesla's autonomous driver assistance system. Autopilot is a 2,000 dollar extra to every Tesla vehicle, featuring lane centering, adaptive cruise control, self-parking, automatic lane changing, and enables the car to be summoned from a garage or a driving spot. Tesla's intent for Autopilot is to offer full self-driving at a future time. However, misuse of Autopilot had contributed to several crashes, some ending up fatal. As Tesla continues to improve on Autopilot making the system safer and more advanced, all drivers must pay full attention to the road and must be always ready to take control in case of emergency. Remember, Autopilot is a driver assistance feature, not an actual driver.
Tesla also released the Powerwall, an energy storage system for home use, with battery technology similar from the Tesla Model S, X and 3.
Production Issues and Controversies
The Tesla Model 3 production line
The Tesla Model 3 has been facing multiple production issues throughout its lifetime. Tesla's heavy reliance on automation had slowed down the production process, as many bugs and glitches were found. Elon Musk himself admits that his decision on a fully automated production line was a mistake. Tesla's vehicle quality as always been frequently questioned too, having parts easily break here and there.
Tesla has been struggling to turn a profit ever since the Model 3's production issues. A new Model 3 sells for just over $35,000, but it costs $37,500 to produce one. Factory conditions have also been heavily questioned. A report said that Tesla had failed to report or mislabeled injuries that occurred to employees at the plant, along with insufficient training of employees. Tesla denies the allegations.
Many controversies also surround Tesla Autopilot, with crashes popping up here and there. The reliability of Autopilot has been questioned, especially on how likely or unlikely it is to crash while on Autopilot. However, most crashes are caused by misuse of Autopilot, and the drivers are to blame for their recklessness, as they were strictly told by Tesla not to use Autopilot inattentively. A suggestion is to change the system's name instead of Autopilot, that way it wont give the idea of autonomy to drivers.
Even Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk has gotten himself into hot water a few times. One time when he smoked Marijuana in front of a podcast interview, along with calling one of the rescue divers of the Thai cave rescue a child predator after saying that Musk's contraption will not work. And recently, Musk has stepped down from CEO after a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission after a controversial Twitter post.
Impacts on the Auto Industry
Porsche's Mission E Concept
Despite Tesla's shortcomings and controversies, Elon Musk had achieved his initial goal with Tesla, to prove to the world that electric vehicles can be as good as ICE-powered vehicles. Popularity for electric vehicles grew drastically as a result, with many companies producing and developing electric vehicles as a result. Many prominent names in the Auto industry such as the Volkswagen Auto Group, Daimler AG, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, General Motors, BMW Group, Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Hyundai-Kia have jumped into the electric vehicle industry with stellar and quality products to compete with Tesla, offering the consumer even more choices to pick from.
Tesla had convinced the world that electric cars could be quick, fast and very cool too. Now, electric supercars are growing more common. Companies such as Rimac and NiO have pushed battery technology to its maximum limits for maximum driving experience and performance, proving to the world what an electric car could do once its maximum potential has been reached. Tesla had also accelerated the development of autonomous vehicles, with companies such as Volkswagen, GM, Daimler AG and Volvo trying to match or even outperform Tesla's Autopilot with their systems.
Best of all, Tesla has made the electric car accessible to the general public. Many automakers have developed cars to compete with the Model 3, with prices similar to it. Offerings such as the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt that compete with the Model 3 are priced affordably, while offering range, quality and reliability without any compromises when compared to a similarly priced gasoline powered car.
The entire Tesla lineup
Electric vehicles are currently where they are thanks to Tesla. They proved to the public eye that electric vehicles are as good as regular gasoline powered vehicles. They made the electric vehicle accessible to everyone, along with innovating on and accelerating the growth and popularity of it. Tesla had also increased the rate of development of the autonomous vehicles, making the future just a little bit fore convenient for us.
Thanks to Tesla, we can all look forward to a greener and cleaner future, because they had pioneered and popularized the electric car.