In Tesla’s final years as a private company, things got pretty hectic.
As we showed in Part 1: Tesla’s Origin Story, the launch of the Roadster was a public relations success, but it created all kinds of problems internally. There were massive cost overruns, a revolving door of CEOs, layoffs, and even a narrow escape from bankruptcy.
Fortunately, by 2010 the company was able to forget these troubles after a successful IPO. The company secured $226 million in capital, and hitting the public markets started a roller coaster ride of growth.
Rise of Tesla: The Company (Part 2 of 3)
Today’s giant infographic comes to us from Global Energy Metals, and it is the second part of our three-part Rise of Tesla Series, which is a definitive source for everything you ever wanted to know about the company.
Part 2 shows major events from 2010 until today, and it tracks the company’s rapid growth along the way.
Tesla was the first American car company to IPO since The Ford Motor Company went public in 1956.
Interestingly, it only took seven years for Tesla to match Ford’s value – here are the major events during this stretch of time that made this incredible feat possible.
After securing funding from the public markets, Tesla was positioned for its next big leap:
- The company had just narrowly escaped bankruptcy
- The Tesla Roadster helped to dispel the stigma around EVs, but it was unclear if it could be parlayed into mainstream success
- The company was free from its feud and lawsuit with co-founder Martin Eberhard
- Tesla had just taken over its now famous factory in Fremont, CA
It was time to focus on the next phase of Tesla’s strategy: to build the company’s first real car from scratch – and to help the company achieve the economies of scale, impact, and reputation it desired.
In 2011, Tesla announces that the Roadster will be officially discontinued.
Instead, the company starts focusing all efforts on two new EVs: the Model S (A full-size luxury car) and the Model X (A full-size luxury crossover SUV).
The Model S was Tesla’s chance to build a car around the electric powertrain, rather than the other way around.
When we started Model S, it was a clean sheet of paper.
– Franz Von Holzhausen, Chief Car Designer
In June 2012, the first Model S hits the road – and the rest is history. The model won multiple awards, including being recognized as the “safest car ever tested” by the NHTSA and the “Best car ever tested” by Consumer Reports. Over 200,000 cars were eventually sold.
But despite the success of the new model, Tesla still faced a giant problem. Lithium-ion batteries were still too expensive for a mass market car to be feasible, and the company needed to “bet the farm” on an idea to bring EVs to the mainstream.
Tesla reveals initial plans for its Gigafactory concept, an ambitious attempt to bring economies of scale to the battery industry.
In time, the details of those plans solidified:
- Cost: $5 billion
- Partner: Panasonic
- Objective: To reduce the cost of lithium-ion battery packs by 30%
- Location: Sparks, Nevada
- Size: Up to 5.8 million sq. ft (100 football fields)
The company believed that through economies of scale, reduction of waste, a closer supply chain, vertical integration, and process optimization, that the cost of batteries could be sufficiently reduced to make a mass market EV possible.
Under Tesla’s first plan, the Gigafactory would be ramped up to produce batteries for 500,000 EVs per year by 2020. Later on, the company eventually moved that target forward by two years.
Tesla makes significant advances in software, hardware, and its mission.
- Autopilot is released for the first time, which gives the Model S semi-autonomous driving and parking capabilities
- By this time, Tesla’s Supercharger network is up to 221 stations around the world
- Tesla goes open source, releasing all of the company’s patents for anyone to use
After massive and repeated delays because of issues with the “falcon wing” doors, the Model X finally is released.
In the same year, the Tesla Powerwall is also announced. Using a high-capacity lithium-ion battery and proprietary technology – the Powerwall is a major step towards Tesla achieving its major end goal of integrating energy generation and storage in the home.
Tesla unveils its Model 3 – the car for the masses that is supposed to change it all.
Here are the specs for the most basic model, which is available at $35,000:
- Price: $35,000
- Torque: 415 lb-ft
- Power: 235 hp (Motor Trend’s est.)
- 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
- Top speed: 130 mph
- Range: 220 miles
After being announced, the Model 3 quickly garnered 500,000 pre-orders. To put the magnitude of this number in perspective – in six years of production of the Model S, the company has only delivered about 200,000 cars in total so far.
In 2016, Tesla also announces that it is taking over of Elon Musk’s other companies, SolarCity, for $2.6 billion of stock. Elon Musk owns 22% of SolarCity shares at the time of the takeover.
The goal: to build a seamlessly integrated battery and solar product that looks beautiful.
2017 was a whirlwind year for Tesla:
- Consumer Reports names Tesla the top American car brand in 2017
- The Tesla Gigafactory I begins battery cell production
- Tesla wins bids to provide grid-scale battery power in South Australia and Puerto Rico
- Tesla starts accepting orders for its new solar roof product
- The Tesla Semi is unveiled – a semi-truck that can go 0-60 mph in just 5 seconds, which is 3x faster than a diesel truck
- Model 3 deliveries begin, though production issues keep them from ramping at the speed anticipated
Tesla also unveils the new Roadster – the second-gen version of the car that started it all.
This time, it has unbelievable specs:
- 0-60 mph: 1.9 seconds
- 200 kWh battery pack
- Top speed: above 250 mph
- 620 mile range (It could drive from San Francisco to LA and back, without needing a recharge)
The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars
– Elon Musk, Tesla Co-Founder and CEO
The new Roadster will go into production in 2020.
A Look to the Future
In 1956, the IPO of the Ford Motor Company was the single largest IPO in Wall Street’s history.
Tesla IPO’d a whopping 54 years later, and the company has already passed Ford in value:
(numbers from Dec 31, 2017)
An incredible feat, it took only seven years for Tesla to pass Ford in value on the public markets. However, this is still the beginning of Tesla’s story.
See Musk’s vision for the future in Part 3 of this series.
Animation: U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales (2010-19)
This stunning animation visualizes the last nine years of U.S. electric vehicle sales. We also look at who will lead the race in the coming years.
It’s challenging to get ahead, but it’s even harder to stay ahead.
For companies looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-moving, capital intensive, and nascent sector like manufacturing electric vehicles, this is a simple reality that must be accounted for.
Every milestone achieved is met with the onset of new and more sophisticated competitors – and as the industry grows, the stakes grow higher and the market gets further de-risked. Then, the real 800-lb gorillas start to climb their way in, making competition even more fierce.
Visualizing U.S. EV Sales
Today’s animation uses data from InsideEVs to show almost nine years of U.S. sales in the electric vehicle market, sorted by model of car.
It paints a picture of a rapidly evolving market with many new competitors sweeping in to try and claim a stake. You can see the leads of early successes eroded away, the increasing value of scale, and consumer preferences, all rolled into one nifty animation.
The Tesla Roadster starts with a very early lead, but is soon replaced by the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, which are the most sold models in the U.S. from 2011-2016.
Closer to the end, the Tesla Model S rises fast to eventually surpass the Leaf by the end of 2017. Finally, the scale of the rollout of the Tesla Model 3 is put into real perspective, as it quickly jumps past all other models in the span of roughly one year.
The Gorilla Search
While Tesla’s rise has been well-documented, it’s also unclear how long the company can maintain an EV leadership position in the North American market.
As carmakers double-down on EVs as their future foundations, many well-capitalized competitors are entering the fray with serious and ambitious plans to make a dent in the market.
In the previous animation, you can already see there are multiple models from BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and Chevrolet that have accumulated over 10,000 sales – and as these manufacturers continue to pour capital in the sector, they are likely posturing to try and find how to create the next mass market EV.
Of these, Volkswagen seems to be the most bullish on a global transition to EVs, and the company is expecting to have 50 fully electric models by 2025 while investing $40 billion into new EV technologies (such as batteries) along the way.
The Chinese Bigfoot?
However, the 800-lb gorilla could come from the other side of the Pacific as well.
Source: The Driven
Chinese company BYD – which is backed by Warren Buffett – is currently the largest EV manufacturer in the world, selling 250,000 EVs in 2018.
The Chinese carmaker quietly manufacturers buses in the U.S. already, and it has also announced future plans to sell its cars in the U.S. as well.
How will such an animation of cumulative U.S. EV sales look in the future? In such a rapidly evolving space, it seems it could go any which way.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
It is counterintuitive, but electric vehicles are not possible without oil – these petrochemicals bring down the weight of cars to make EVs possible.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…
Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.
Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.
It turns out the many everyday materials we rely on from synthetic rubber to plastics to lubricants all come from petrochemicals.
The use of various polymers and plastics has several advantages for manufacturers and consumers:
- Easy to Shape
- Flame Retardant
Today, plastics can make up to 50% of a vehicle’s volume but only 10% of its weight. These plastics can be as strong as steel, but light enough to save on fuel and still maintain structural integrity.
This was not always the case, as oil’s use has evolved and grown over time.
Not Your Granddaddy’s Caddy
Plastics were not always a critical material in auto manufacturing industry, but over time plastics such as polypropylene and polyurethane became indispensable in the production of cars.
Rolls Royce was one of the first car manufacturers to boast about the use of plastics in its car interior. Over time, plastics have evolved into a critical material for reducing the overall weight of vehicles, allowing for more power and conveniences.
Rolls Royce uses phenol formaldehyde resin in its car interiors
Henry Ford experiments with an “all-plastic” car
About 20 lbs. of plastics is used in the average car
Manufacturers begin using plastic for interior decorations
Headlights, bumpers, fenders and tailgates become plastic
Engineered polymers first appear in semi-structural parts of the vehicle
The average car uses over 1000 plastic parts
Electric Dreams: Petrochemicals for EV Innovation
Plastics and other materials made using petrochemicals make vehicles more efficient by reducing a vehicle’s weight, and this comes at a very reasonable cost.
For every 10% in weight reduction, the fuel economy of a car improves roughly 5% to 7%. EV’s need to achieve weight reductions because the battery packs that power them can weigh over 1000 lbs, requiring more power.
Today, plastics and polymers are used for hundreds of individual parts in an electric vehicle.
Oil and the EV Future
Oil is most known as a source of fuel, but petrochemicals also have many other useful physical properties.
In fact, petrochemicals will play a critical role in the mass adoption of electric vehicles by reducing their weight and improving their ranges and efficiency. In According to IHS Chemical, the average car will use 775 lbs of plastic by 2020.
Although it seems counterintuitive, petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas make the major advancements by today’s EVs possible – and the continued use of petrochemicals will mean that both EVS and traditional vehicles will become even lighter, faster, and more efficient.
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