The question, therefore, is what is driving Tesla’s success? Is it all down to the personality of its eccentric founder, Elon Musk? Or is it something else?
There’s no doubting that Musk is a man on a mission. He wants to get all gas cars off the road and replace them with a fleet of electric vehicles over the next twenty years. Many people think that he’s just the CEO, making executive decisions. But he says that he spends most of his time doing engineering.
The Tesla Factory
The Tesla factory is a sprawling facility out in Fremont, California. But it’s a factory with a difference. The CEO of the company doesn’t just sit in some office somewhere, well away from the factory floor. He actually sits in among the workers. His desk is very much like any other person’s desk at the plant.
This helps to focus the team. There’s an attention to detail inside the factory too. Workers are constantly inspecting cars on the production line. And they’re always checking equipment to make sure it is safe. You can bet they’ve never missed a PUWER assessment here.
Tesla plans to ramp up its production from around 70,000 cars today to about half a million in the space of just 18 months. If the company is to make that vision a reality, they have to make the Fremont plant scalable. Right now, engineers are working hard on doing just that.
The company has been building a separate facility, over in Nevada, to produce the batteries for its new cars. These batteries will form the battery pack of the much-anticipated Model 3, arriving some time in 2018.
A Model For The Future?
Other car companies have been operating at steady production levels for decades. Very few companies have the expertise to scale production once again, partly because they never thought they’d need to. But now that electric cars are just around the corner, they are going to have to change.
Tesla provides a model for that change. Change involves making sure that the management is actively involved in what is going on on the factory floor. Musk is right there, a couple of days a week, working directly with his staff. He helps to infuse a sense of purpose into the whole operation.
Everybody at Tesla has a mission. The mission is to rid the world of carbon-emitting vehicles by the end of the 2030s. Many who work there see this as a noble ambition.
If other car companies want to share in this success, they have to follow suit. They need workers who are committed to the cause and committed to Tesla’s working model. Tesla’s early success suggests that other car makers have so far been barking up the wrong tree.