Elon Musk issues press release berating himself for ‘hubris’…Who does that?

Your faithful scribe slowly becoming Tesla fan boy…one impertinent press release at a time

Tesla Motors has just issued an extraordinary press release, one that makes me think maybe Elon Musk may yet compete head to head with the big boys of automobile manufacturing.

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3.

As everyone on the planet now knows, Tesla Model 3 pre-orders – just $1,000 down to get on the list – hit 276,000 on the weekend after only two days. Those orders represent $10 billion in revenue for the wildly popular electric vehicle start up.

And CEO Musk thinks pre-orders may hit 500,000 before all is said and done.

Can Tesla deliver in a timely fashion? Hit the promised specs of 200 miles (320 kms) driving range? Will it make money with a $35,000USD price tag?

I’ve been one of the skeptics. Long-term, I think General Motors or Nissan has the better chance of dominating the EV market because they know how to build and market cars around the world.

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk.

Tesla’s a punk by comparison.

Tesla routinely misses delivery targets and continues to lose money. Fortunately, the company makes fantastic cars (who doesn’t want to own an automobile with “ludicrous mode”?) that generate a lot of buzz. And if the Model S and Model X weren’t enough to get folks excited, well, Musk has enough charisma to power a mid-sized petro-dictatorship.

But I have to admit I am slowly being won over to the Tesla cult.

And a press release from Monday really helped.

The company issued a routine count of its Q1 deliveries – 12,420 Model S vehicles and 2,400 Model X vehicles, almost 50 per cent higher than last year and on track to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles this year.

Then the release went on to talk about an early 2016 parts shortage that lasted “much longer” than expected. Once the issue was resolved, production increased to 750 Model X vehicles per week, most of which were built too late to be put into the hands of drooling owners before the end of the quarter.

Now, here’s where the release becomes extraordinary.

Tesla says the the “root causes” of the shortage were “Tesla’s hubris in adding far too much new technology to the Model X in version 1, insufficient supplier capability validation, and Tesla not having broad enough internal capability to manufacture the parts in-house.”

Hubris? According to my Thesaurus, Tesla just accused itself of vanity, pretension, cockiness, or pomposity.

Not to mention being unable to pick the right suppliers or make enough parts itself.

Who does that? Can you imagine if all publicly traded companies were frank?

And who else but Musk could get away with such disarming candor?

A cynic might argue that Tesla castigating itself for adding “far too much” new technology to a new model is just a clever marketing ploy. And I might concede the point just a little.

But to this skeptic’s eye, in a corporate landscape where lawyers police all company disclosures and insist on language that numbs the brain and obfuscates all hope of true insight and understanding, the Tesla culture is different.

Given how desperately the auto industry needs innovation, some chutzpah is probably a good thing.

So when Tesla says it has straightened out the supply chain issue and “reaffirms its full-year delivery guidance,” I’ll buy it.

And I’m a lot closer to buying the likelihood of 500,000 Model 3s showing up on time starting in late 2017.



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