Musk and Tesla

by Elfindah Princes

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has received an honor considerably more excellent than this week's "person of the year" awards from Time and The Financial Times. He can be credited with driving startup electric car companies to try to steal some of Tesla's thunder in 2021 when he finally pushed the legacy auto industry to get serious about creating electric cars. In addition, Elon Musk is attempting to transform transportation on Earth and in space with his electric car company Tesla and his rocket company SpaceX.

This year, Musk made headlines for various reasons—becoming the world's wealthiest person on paper, bringing SpaceX to the forefront of the aerospace sector, hosting Saturday Night Live, tweeting about his digestive tract—but it's the behind-the-scenes effort that deserves the most attention. After its most recent investment round in February 2021, Musk's rocket firm, SpaceX, is valued at $74 billion.

Molly Ball, Jeffrey Kluger, and Alejandro De La Garza described Elon Musk in the first paragraph of their article," The richest man in the world does not own a house and has recently been selling off his fortune. He tosses satellites into orbit and harnesses the sun; he drives a car he created that uses no gas and barely needs a driver. With a flick of his finger, the stock market soars or swoons. An army of devotees hangs on his every utterance. He dreams of Mars as he bestrides Earth, square-jawed and indomitable. Lately, Elon Musk also likes to live-tweet his poops."

Musk and Tesla proved in 2021 that they have the goods to thrive at scale in the industry, despite criticism that he could develop an automaker from the ground up, let alone an electric-vehicle brand selling at luxury pricing. Tesla is on target to deliver over 800,000 vehicles this year, exceeding its internal objective of a 50% year-over-year growth rate. The corporation made billion-dollar earnings in the second and third quarters, despite a disappointing first quarter. (Though Musk sold roughly 12 million shares in the fourth quarter, Tesla's stock is only up around 30% for the year, slightly more than the Nasdaq Composite.)

This year, the auto industry's focus on EV expenditures isn't only due to Tesla's performance. However, its significance is apparent, as competitors try to chip away at Tesla's 80% market share of all-electric vehicles sold in the United States last year. Time quoted Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Cox Automotive, saying, "Musk and Tesla forced the modification." "He demonstrated that there was a market for electric vehicles."

Take, for example, the events of the last two months:

  • One of the industry's slowest to adopt electric vehicles, Toyota stated Tuesday that it expects to produce 3.5 million electric vehicles by 2030, nearly tripling a target set earlier this year.
  • Volkswagen announced last week that it will devote more than half of its spending over the next five years to electric vehicles and related initiatives, with EVs estimated to account for 25% of global sales, up from roughly 5% now.
  • Nissan announced plans to invest $18 billion over the next five years with the objective of electrifying half of its vehicles by 2030.

Each statement came after significant pledges to electrify made earlier this year by GM, Ford, and Volvo, among others. Time will tell if Musk's other endeavors—space exploration, cryptocurrency advocacy, and ranting against the US tax code—will be remembered more prominently in history. But, for 2021, Musk's most significant achievement will be driving the rest of the auto industry into high gear, hastening the world's transition to a greener future. Are you in for Tesla?