On March 31, 2016 last, Elon Musk unveiled the new Tesla model 3 and from a Leadership point of view, what is really compelling is the way he chose to do it.
Rather than trying to sell the Model 3 to his audience by answering the question “What” and focusing in detail on the car’s technical specifications as a traditional car maker would have done, Elon Musk chose first to answer the question “Why” Tesla are doing what they are doing.
For Tesla is about much more than just making good cars. Tesla has indeed a much more compelling mission which is expressed through 2 key goals:
- Accelerate the transition to sustainable transport by building an affordable and attractive 100% electric car;
- Save lives by building a car which emits no toxic gases. As Musk reminds his audience, 53000 people die each year in the US alone due to toxic gas emissions from combustion cars and Tesla are helping to attack this urgent public health issue in a direct and concrete way.
These are indeed compelling goals that speak to everyone and I am sure Elon Musk and his management team have no problem motivating their employees to engage with this compelling higher purpose which is so impactful on people’s lives and on the planet.
Indeed, Elon Musk wastes no time reminding us that “it is really important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport for the future of the world“, given the increase in CO2 levels and that it doesn’t make sense to continue to produce cars that emit poisonous gases!
So Tesla’s mission is not simply to make cars. Tesla’s mission is to address these very
serious issues of climate warming due to excessive CO2 levels and alarming death rates due to car pollution by making cars that are good for the climate and safe for people. By buying a Tesla electric car, customers are of course not simply buying a car but they are also saving the planet and saving lives. What a powerful mission statement!
These are fantastic and great reasons for buying a Tesla and certainly much more compelling than the traditional arguments used by the established car makers! What’s more, any fears future Tesla users may harbor linked to battery range or recharge times are significantly reduced when compared with the idea that buying a Tesla will save lives and save the Planet.
Elon Musk also reminds us that Tesla started off as a small team with few resources and this adds to the sense of a highly united band of pioneers who have beaten the odds through a clever strategy of starting out small and building gradually towards the final objective of producing the first great 100% high volume, affordable electric car. This is a very convincing argument for all the early adopters who want to participate in a truly great endeavor that goes beyond simply buying a product.
And of course, Tesla is disrupting the car industry and forcing the traditional car makers to play catch up. As Musk says, Tesla is breaking the mould and car makers like Chevrolet and Nissan have since launched similar programs in pursuit of Tesla, even though Tesla has not been producing high volumes up to now. Small in volume but big in impact! David is beating Goliath!
Elon Musk remembers to thank his customers for buying the initial Tesla models: the Roadster, Model S and Model X and these initial customers have provided the resources to fund the design and development of the Model 3. So Tesla users are not simply customers but are above all pioneering champions who are helping to make the Tesla dream a reality and by doing so, help solve very serious global issues. Really powerful reasons for switching to Tesla!
Musk suggests future Tesla customers needn’t worry about order availability because the factory in Fremont has huge spare capacity to meet increased demand, having produced 500 thousand + cars in the past!
Concerning batteries, the Tesla Giga factory being built is the biggest such factory in the world where more lithium ion batteries will be produced than in all the other factories in the world combined!! Astonishing!
Finally, Musk describes the key features such as acceleration speed, range, autopilot hardware, interior space, head room, leg room, cargo room, interior roominess, etc using simple words that speak to all. You can even fit a 7ft surf board inside! How different to the traditional technical vocabulary quite often used by traditional car makers.
And of course, the Tesla service network is growing fast and the Tesla network of supercharging and destination charging points will increase significantly by end 2017 when the first Tesla Model 3 will be delivered, guaranteeing customers the freedom to go wherever they want to go.
For Musk, cars are about Freedom and that is indeed a very contrarian message when you think how cars in recent years have become synonymous with traffic jams, gridlock, pollution and illness and to such an extent that they are increasingly being locked out of most large urban centres.
So the dream is becoming reality and Tesla is showing that it is possible to produce a great electric car despite all the obstacles from a technology, industrial, consumer, infrastructure, ecological point of view.
An extraordinary and fascinating example of how to drive change, disrupt a seemingly inertia ridden, highly conservative industry and indeed transform an every-day object that is seen as expensive, dangerous, technical, dirty, highly constraining, etc. into one which is attractive, easy to use, simple, beautiful, exciting, user-friendly and delivers freedom.
And the 300,000 + customers who have ordered a model 3 since the unveil representing more than 11 billion USD in future sales would certainly seem to agree.
Brilliant! Fascinating vision! Putting the passion back in manufacturing. A great example of how visionaries like Elon Musk are helping to widen the cone of innovation and disrupting industries which up to now have seemed impervious to change!