Tesla's recently announced third-quarter 2016 financial report shows that the company's net profit was $22 million, welcoming the second profitable quarter after the listing. After experiencing multiple hardships since its inception, the situation in Tesla is gradually improving. But electric cars are not the end of Tesla. "Accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy" is the dream that Musk gave when he was a teenager.
In April 2016, "Silicon Valley Iron Man: Elon Musk's Adventure Life" by American technology writer Ashley Vance was officially published. Just looking at the name of this book, the author seems to be interested in letting the reader compare the Musk analog to the IP character Iron Man Tony Stark of Marvel.
However, Tony Stark is just a virtual character created by the cartoonist Stan Lee. Musk is very good at interpreting the legend of Iron Man in reality. Tesla electric car is the most proud of this "Silicon Valley Iron Man".
But from now on, the Tesla electric car project has experienced countless risks and challenges. In the face of these risks and challenges, Musk has always adhered to his beliefs and ideals. Does Tesla want to be a pure electric car? Can Tesla survive the long and burning cycle of research and development? Must Tesla be successful in the Chinese market? Can Tesla's autonomous driving get through the politician's accusation and the hacker's provocation? Whenever each question was placed in front of Musk, he gave a brave response.
The traditional car giantâ€™s halfway
The concept of electric vehicles, originally derived from traditional car manufacturers, is not the original of Tesla.
In response to the growing energy crisis, as early as 1959, General Motors developed the pure electric vehicle Henney Kilowatt and successfully produced 100 units, followed by the series of improved models Corvair and Chevette.
However, in 1996, the development of electric vehicles encountered bottlenecks. GM has not been able to go further in engine technology and power conversion efficiency, and the construction of charging piles has no clue. In 2003, after calculating the input-output ratio, GM decided to abandon the research and development project for electric vehicles.
In the process of GM's development of electric vehicles, Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan is also developing similar products. The difference is that Toyota found a compromise, which is to install a separate fuel engine for electric-powered cars. On the one hand, this method enjoys the cleanliness of electricity and on the other hand guarantees the long-distance driving ability of the car.
In the end, such a program achieved commercial success. Statistics show that during the 17 years from 1997 to 2014, the cumulative sales of Toyota's hybrid electric vehicle PRIUS reached 7.053 million. However, such commercial success means that veteran manufacturers are not willing to change the overall structure and braking principle of traditional cars. They used practical actions to show that the ideals of electric vehicles are good, but they have too many difficulties. They do not intend to go all the way on this road.
â€œI used to expect and believe that the traditional automobile industry can give birth to new trends in electric vehicles. Later I found that they could not do it.â€ When it comes to the history of electric vehicles, Musk made such an evaluation. As it is said, the performance of traditional car companies is indeed not ideal, so Musk shot.
As for the reasons, everything stems from Musk's vision of the future many years ago. He believes that the five areas of sustainable energy, Internet, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and human genetics will be the areas most likely to change the world. Therefore, even if the electric car project faces huge risks, Musk decided to give it a try. "At the time, we were very likely to fail, but I still have to stick to my original ideals," Musk said.
Musk's power belief
After really getting involved in the electric car industry, Musk encountered a lot of problems.
From the perspective of the design and production of electric vehicles, Tesla must first clarify the design direction of the motor and minimize the energy loss generated during power transmission. Secondly, the central control system needs to digitize the current of the battery cells. The generated electric energy is converted into the kinetic energy of the car body to improve the utilization efficiency; finally, the whole vehicle gearbox also optimizes the torque generated by the AC induction motor and the vehicle speed to improve the acceleration of the car.
Of course, security is also a problem that Tesla needs to pay attention to. Because according to the technical team's vision, to provide enough power for the vehicle, Tesla needs to make 7000 batteries into battery packs. This requires the battery not only to reduce the possibility of short circuit, but also to ensure that the failure of the battery unit does not affect the normal operation of other battery packs. The traditional car companies failed to find the answer, and finally compromised with the hybrid. Can Tesla, who lacks strength, solve these problems?
To solve these problems, there must be a strong technical reserve. As co-founder, Martin Abbothard offers some of the underlying technologies of AC Propulsion, but these are not enough. Tesla still needs to fill a large number of technical gaps, which all require financial support.
In order to remove all technical obstacles, Musk has devoted his personal savings to the R&D process. According to statistics, on the eve of the official launch of the first product, Roadster, Musk personally invested 40 million US dollars, led the C-round financing of Tesla, and accumulated more than 60 million US dollars. At this point, Musk has already gambled most of his savings on Tesla's projects.
However, these are not enough. In the face of product mass production and investment in the press conference, Musk has no ability to continue to support. Tesla has not provided Roadster technical specifications to component suppliers when there are only 2 months left until the scheduled date of production. To this end, he started the Tesla D round of financing, frequent contact with investors every day, and constantly rushing on various means of transportation. Under his insistence, Tesla completed the final $45 million in financing and weathered the storm.
In October 2008, Roadster achieved mass production. Although the downline time was more than half a year later than the original plan, the first batch of customers still showed sufficient tolerance. Only 30 of the 1,000 customers requested a refund, and the vacant places were quickly filled by new orders. "If the financing fails, Tesla will go bankrupt in two days, but we still stick to it," Musk said.
The troubles after Tesla's appearance
If, before the launch of the product, Musk only needs to be critical to the investors, then after growing and launching the product, it becomes equally important for investors and users.
Musk was impressed with the first intimate contact with the user.
In 2008, when attending a customer meeting in Los Angeles, Musk met a group of angry participants. With no preparation at all, Musk was besieged and almost fainted at the scene. Later media reports said that Musk raised the price of Roadster to $110,000, which is much higher than the original price of $100,000. The user did not want to accept Tesla's arrangements, so he used action to protest to Musk.
The most ideal way to calm the user's mood is of course to lower the price to $100,000. However, according to the list of quotes provided by Tesla, the cost of Roadster has reached $120,000. Selling at a price of $110,000, Tesla is still losing money. This time, the market has brought new challenges to Musk.
To adjust the price of the product to the user's expectations, Tesla needs to reduce the cost of the product from development to production, but this is against the value of Musk. Musk has always believed that only by ensuring stable and continuous R&D investment can the product be guaranteed to be good, so there is no pressure on all parties. Adequate technical reserves are a prerequisite for success, and Tesla's development must be subject to this. Therefore, under Muskâ€™s insistence, the pricing of new products has not been adjusted.
In a letter to shareholders, when it comes to reducing R&D spending to reduce costs, Musk responded simply and firmly: "We will choose the former between excellent products and bright quarterly results."
Musk's insistence also quickly received a positive response from the market. Users see a product that is good enough, so they are willing to pay for quality products. From the launch in 2008 to the discontinuation in 2012, the Roadster sold a total of about 2,250 units, which is very difficult for a new high-end sports car with a price of $10,000.
In 2014, after stabilizing the North American and European markets, Musk decided: Tesla's next step is to fully expand the Chinese market.
In Musk's territory plan, it is estimated that the sales volume in China will reach 30% to 35% of Tesla's total sales volume. Such market capacity is already a conservative estimate. The rapid growth of the electric vehicle market is foreseeable, and it is very important to take root in the Chinese market. "Tesla's sales in China will soon be comparable to that of the United States. Tesla will consider setting up a factory in China." When it comes to the Chinese market, Musk is ambitious.
Musk's judgment is consistent with many manufacturers of electric vehicles, but like other manufacturers, everyone does not know where the growth is.
According to Tesla's plan, if the sales volume in China is 30% to 35%, and the total score of 22,300 vehicles in the world in 2013, Tesla will sell at least 1.4 to 17,000 new cars in China before the end of 2014; However, statistics show that in 2014 Tesla sold a total of 31,600 Model S, and China only contributed 3,500 units. The difference between the two sets of data is too much for Musk's expectations.
Is Tesla necessary to continue in China? Throughout the contribution of other markets around the world to Tesla, North America, Oceania and Europe have performed significantly better than expected, and users' attitude towards Tesla has become more positive. Musk can not achieve too much attention to the Chinese market, and instead of other areas, can achieve steady growth.
However, taking root in the Chinese market is the initial goal, and Musk does not intend to change the original intention. In 2013, the sales volume of automobiles in the Chinese market reached 21.98 million, and the proportion of electric vehicles was less than two-thousandths. Musk believes that with the changes in the living environment and the adjustment of user perception, more people will accept, and even take the initiative to buy electric cars. What Tesla has to do is to settle in the market before and clean up the problems that electric vehicles may face.
Subsequently, Musk initiated a comprehensive adjustment of personnel and business in China. There is only one purpose to stabilize Tesla's position in China at the fastest speed. In April 2014, in order to boost the sales of Tesla vehicles, Musk let Wu Bizhen take over the work of Zheng Shunjing, and let the Tesla Model S in China through the two models of â€œbulk salesâ€ and â€œhome salesâ€. The number of deliveries has increased to 3,500.
Realizing that the construction of charging piles has become the main reason hindering the development of Tesla, Musk has activated Zhu Xiaoyu. Before becoming the third CEO, Zhu Xiaoyu built more than 600 destination charging piles in more than 60 cities across the country. After that, Zhu Xiaoyu led the team to complete the deployment of super charging stations in 10 cities along Beijing to Shanghai, in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Yangtze River Delta. In the key cities of the Pearl River Delta region, the charging networks of the three scenic spots of Emei Mountain, Qingcheng Mountain and Putuo Mountain have gradually taken shape.
Positive adjustments soon yielded results. Today, Tesla has built more than 11 super charging stations in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Nanjing, and built more than 200 charging piles in 32 cities and regions across the country. In the first quarter of 2016, Tesla's total shipments reached 14,820, an increase of 50% year-on-year, and the performance of China's region began to gradually improve. However, Musk is still waiting, waiting for the volume of all efforts to change, and ultimately achieve a qualitative change in the overall vehicle sales in China.
For the future, Musk is full of expectations: the big screen as the central control system is only the beginning, Tesla wants to change the traditional transportation mode, the next step is unmanned driving.
Tesla's driverless program began in September 2014. At that time, the company announced that the ModelS models to be released in the future will be equipped with the Autopilot system. At the same time, the vehicle will also be equipped with long-range radar, front camera and sensors. Since then, Tesla's car has a semi-automatic drive hardware and software configuration. This is a phased attempt by Musk: the whole system can help users maintain front and rear distance, control acceleration, deceleration and braking. The next step is to start testing unmanned functions.
The emergence of new technologies is often exciting and daunting. Tesla's innovations have made humans go further without driver, but there will also be people who oppose Musk's step forward. In October 2016, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrint asked Tesla to stop using the â€œAutopilotâ€ name in Germany, arguing that it was implying that the owner did not need to concentrate during driving. Subsequently, the Dutch Vehicle Certification Center also began to support Dobrint.
But the question did not stop Musk's embarrassment about the future. Musk firmly believes that driverlessness is the ultimate form of electric vehicles in the future. The voice of opposition will eventually disappear with the maturity of technology, so the most important thing at present is trial and accumulation.
So in the teleconference of Tesla on October 19 this year, Musk clearly stated that in the future, every car produced by Tesla will be equipped with fully automatic driving.
Musk did not rashly confront the parties. Fully automatic driving was his original ideal, and he also made a lot of preparations for it. He said that Tesla's new car will be equipped with a new computer, and its computing power will be 40 times higher than the previous generation. The number of cameras has also been upgraded to eight, and the sensing of images, sonar and radar will be upgraded to 12, forming a brand new â€œneural networkâ€ in the car. This "neural network" will bring users from Los Angeles to New York in 2017, with "no need to touch".
Musk is still firm this time. Enterprises in different fields are imagining the final form of the Internet of Vehicles, which is a major trend in the development of the industry. As long as the direction of firmness is determined, Tesla's subversive innovation will also be convinced by the followers. The difference this time is that the future is not far away - the performance of Tesla's driverless features will be seen in 2107.
Accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy
Before the success of the Tesla electric car, Musk was like an ordinary entrepreneur. In the eyes of investors, he is not the founder of PayPal, an online payment platform, but a problem figure that has not been profitable, has lost $4,000 per car, and was besieged by customers at the first wholesale car ceremony in China. Tesla and Musk are getting worse off than many entrepreneurs.
But no matter what kind of problem, Musk led the Tesla. His crazy ideals did not compromise to rapid commercialization, nor did he change the trajectory of chasing dreams because of outside doubts.
Tesla's recently announced third-quarter 2016 financial report shows that the company's net profit was $22 million, welcoming the second profitable quarter after the listing. After experiencing multiple hardships since its inception, Tesla's situation is gradually improving, and this is due to Musk's persistence like a "hard stone."
But Musk's dream about Tesla is not limited to electric cars.
On October 28, 2016, Tesla held a press conference in Los Angeles. Musk announced plans to provide " solar roofs" and new battery systems. At the time Tesla and solar company SolarCity (SolarCity is the first solar panel installation company in the US) to prepare for the merger, Musk gave investors a good vision: "Solar roof + battery + electric car."
In your house, there is a solar roof (there are four styles of choice, including terracotta). In the garage, there is a new Powerwall 2 battery system and car charger. This connected system will give you the whole room. And your Tesla car provides solar energy.
Musk believes that there are currently 45 million new roofs in the United States, and this number will be 20 times larger worldwide. As more and more roofs are refurbished, more and more people will use solar roofs. â€œI hope that one day, after building a new house, people will say to their neighbors: Look! How cool is my roof!â€ Musk said. â€œBut this should have been unlikely in the past.â€
Although the cost and launch time of the solar roof is still unclear, Musk said their goal is to make solar roofs cheaper, more powerful and better looking.
Although many people think that Tesla is an electric car company, Tesla's purpose is not to build a car. As described by Tesla's official website, "accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy" is Musk's youth. Planting dreams.
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