Elon Musk said in his first Tesla blog post in back in 2006 that his goal with Tesla was to transition the world from a “mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.” With the transportation sector responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, this is an extremely important area to target as well as one of the sectors that is most likely to impact the everyday lives of people. Bringing the issue of electric vehicles into the minds of citizens helps bring up the conversation of climate change in a way that hits closer to home for many people more than the impact of giant factories or corporations operating far away.
Around the same time Musk also helped start a solar panel company called SolarCity, which was another step toward his sustainability goals. From the beginning of both of these projects in 2006, Musk planned on having them work together. He envisioned people becoming “energy positive” using SolarCity panels on the roof of their garage and using a Tesla vehicle to commute. As he put it, “this is a step beyond conserving or even nullifying your use of energy for transport – you will actually be putting more energy back into the system than you consume in transportation!”
Musk’s business plan for Tesla was to first build an extremely high performing sports car with a high pricetag to match, and then use the profits from it to build a cheaper car to target a larger market, eventually creating high quality electric vehicles for the masses. In this way, Tesla built quality into its products from the beginning, proving that an electric car could be better than gasoline cars in every way.
Tesla is currently attempting to buy SolarCity for around $2.3 billion, which seems to have caught the industry by surprise despite Musk’s clear intent from the beginning for these companies to work as one. As the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) advisory board said this week, “The transaction is a necessary step toward [Tesla]’s goal of being an integrated sustainable energy company.”
This acquisition shows that Tesla is more than just a car company. They intend to disrupt the energy sector in general by bringing sustainable clean energy to the masses. They started with a very niche market, high performance sports cars, and are now rapidly expanding so that someday soon they will hopefully touch all of our lives.
I believe that Tesla and SolarCity have done an amazing job addressing the issue of climate change in the last decade. As Musk has said, the first part of his master plan for Tesla is pretty much complete. However, this is far from the end of the story. Going forward, I am excited for the possibilities that I believe Tesla will bring us. They are actively working to create pickup trucks and SUVs to address the rest of the car market, but then they plan to expand into industrial trucks and buses as well. Additionally, with the SolarCity synergies, they plan to create solar panels that are cheap and high quality enough (as well as attractive) for use on anyone’s roof. These goals are extremely important for Tesla and mark a turning point for the company. Tesla will not be a car company for much longer. They will be a clean energy company, working to change the infrastructure that the world economy is built upon.
Tesla’s goals seemed almost unreachable when the company was first created. However, they have proven themselves in the last decade, doing better than almost anyone expected. It is very good news for our world that companies like Tesla and SolarCity exist to help shepherd us through this challenging time for our planet. Hopefully in the near future it will become normal for all buildings to have solar panels on them and all cars to be run on clean electricity.
( 650 words )
 Climate Change in 2016: Implications for Business, pg. 14