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Some thoughts about Tesla and longer-term strategies

Like a lot of people, after seeing the model S I'm excited to see what the BlueStar will look like. I like the idea of the model X and other models in the future such as a pick-up truck, which could be designed with construction workers and campers in mind by having a plug to hook up power tools and so on, making generators obsolete. However, I think only one model per category of vehicle or specific function should exist at any given time. I think GM made a mistake by having so many models and brands: it confuses costumers and hurts economies of scale. I also think that the old auto industry philosophy of keeping prices artificially high was mostly a mistake and Tesla has the opportunity to step away from that model (and come out on top) after it reaches mass market production. With fewer parts, electric cars have the long term potential to be less expensive to build and maintain. I think one day there could or should be a 4th and 5th generation car that, although maybe a little small for growing families, could be affordable even for a young person who just got their license. I'll contact Tesla with my suggestion when the time comes. Tesla would only win if it eventually offered great cars at prices higher than cost but still very low by today's standard; as the price declines following the trend of other technological products, Tesla will squeeze some competitors out of the market and will ensure its long term survival while allowing a whole lot more people to own a car, fortunately one that isn't so bad for our home planet. You may also have seen the link I posted to the article about 3D printing of cars currently underway, which might democratize the auto industry and open it like never before, or at least it will likely squeeze margins. The old Detroit way of dealing with this would perhaps be to buy out the competition and stamp out the innovation to protect the balance (or imbalance) in the auto market, but clearly this time things are different, so better be ahead of the curve, which only makes sense because Tesla has nothing to lose in terms of legacy investments.

I don't believe that Tesla should be concerned with self-driving cars for many years beyond simply keeping an eye on advancements in the industry. There are three reasons for this: right now most people love to drive, especially people who are likely to buy a Tesla, so there would be no demand or use for this feature. The second reason is that this technology is likely very tricky to develop properly, which means costly in R&D and risks hurting the brand big time if something goes wrong, such as bugs in the software as there always are with any new program. At least as it is currently, when people get into accidents they can blame themselves or other drivers for their mistakes, but it would create an outrage if automatic driving could be to blame. The third reason is that it will take a while after the introduction of auto-pilot by another company before a new generation of people who otherwise would have learned to drive, grows up expecting driving to be done for them, at which point I think it would be fairly easy to incorporate such a system in an electric car if it was determined that the technology works well in other cars and there is a need or a demand. I don't think there is much risk associated with being late in offering this auto-pilot feature.

If Tesla succeeds in transforming the auto industry, maybe one day it could apply its skills and philosophy to contribute in the electrification of a lot of other stuff: buses, construction and farming equipment, battery packs to replace generators in remote locations like mining camps (if battery companies or someone else doesn't already do this well by then), tractor-trailers for freight, and even locomotives for which battery power could be expensive but probably ideal given the advantages of regenerative breaking and the large mass and low wind and rolling resistance of trains. If possible, pure electric is much better, but I know CN is presently experimenting with liquified natural gas (LNG) to power locomotives, so maybe another option, in the event that batteries alone are not feasible for some reason, would be a LNG-electric hybrid.

There are lots of future possibility, but even just the present offering is obsessing me: I can't stop looking at all the model S videos! Well done Tesla! New technology and a fresh perspective and philosophy were long overdue in the auto industry, and now we are seeing the sweeping changes happening at lightening speed and accelerating. For the first time of my life, I'm more excited at the prospect of buying a car than of inventing one. Thank you for that liberation!

Most of all Tesla has managed to attract a crowd of devout followers and believers, as evidenced by all the discussions in forums and elsewhere. This is huge, was much needed, and I don't see how it could be stopped without a civil war (if someone tried). The pressure has been building for so long, now people have found a way out of the old auto industry trap and Tesla should keep harnessing this enthusiasm by always remaining true and pure in its goals and intentions. It is very exciting what can happen when innovation is unleashed rather than suppressed, at least if the last ten years is any indication. Keep it up!


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