Simplifying Tesla

At Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, Elon Musk admitted a few missteps in unveiling earlier models.

“I think actually we made a mistake in trying to derive the Model X from the Model S platform,” he said. “It would have been better to just design an SUV the way an SUV should be designed, [and] design a sedan the way a sedan should be designed. Otherwise you’re just trying to shoehorn something in that doesn’t make sense.”

If Musk had a time machine, not only would he have built the Model X from scratch, but he also would have simplified the offering.

“A big mistake we made with the X, which is primarily my responsibility — there was way too much complexity right at the beginning. That was very foolish . . . it has way too many cool things in it that should have really been rolled in with version two, version three.”

Model 3 will be produced in much higher volume than earlier, more expensive models. To deal with the manufacturing ramp-up, early customers will be limited to just a few options, like colors and wheels.

Tesla’s core strengths are its direct-to-consumer model, its successful all-electric platform, and cars that are not only better for the environment, but fun to drive and great to look at. As time goes on, we’ll probably see Tesla capitalize on these strengths instead of offer tons of additional options.