What Germans don’t understand about Tesla

Impressions from a visit at the Tesla factory

Last week I had the pleasure to visit the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA. I was together with a group of German entrepreneurs and politicians.
I personally liked the visit very much. Red robot arms, naked Tesla Model Xs and big car part presses in action. And the employees at the factory appeared to be very calm and focused. I could have stayed there for hours just watching this scenery.

Other people from my group weren’t so impressed. Beeing from the car manufacturing country no.1 they are used to see car factories at VW, BMW & Mercedes. So immediate comparissons began. “Why aren’t they using ‘Industry 4.0′ like we do?”, “…this and that won’t work..”, “German cars have better frames.” etc…

But that game started to get really interesting when the Tesla employee who showed us around talked about Tesla’s plans to build an affordable mass market car. My fellow visitors looked blank. “Who should buy the more expensive cars then if you have affordable ones with the same brand? I thought Tesla was a luxury car!”

No fellows. No. You clearly miss the point. Tesla is not the next toy for your garage with the extra feature of a silent engine. Tesla isn’t the gimmick to impress your neighbours. Tesla has a vision. It will change the way how we store and use energy. The car is just one application. Another one might be a truck or a construction vehicle. Or just a pure battery for your home.

German car manufactures build cars. Period. The create different models for certain target groups with a specific set of features. A clean engine is a feature. Less gasoline use is a feature.

I have the feeling that this is manufacturing from a different age. Tesla implemented the reality of human caused climate change into its business model. We as a species have to change our ways of energy storage and transportation to prevent the worst possible outcomes. Tesla seems to be built on that premise.

Whenever you have the chance to see their factory — it’s well worth a visit.

Originally published at chrisdommers.com on June 17, 2015.

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