To say Tesla is the world’s leading automotive start-up of the last 90 years would be a gross understatement. The company has done extremely well for itself, considering its mere 10-year existence and two-model lineup. Now solely producing its second product — the Model S — Tesla is on the forefront of all-electric car design and manufacturing. The Silicon Valley company can pin the majority of its success on the shoulders of its founder and CEO, Elon Musk.
CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley recently sat down with Musk for an interview about Tesla. “Well, I didn’t really think Tesla would be successful,” Musk answered regarding how he could start a car company and be successful at it. “I thought we would most likely fail. But I thought that we at least could address the false perception that people have that an electric car had to be ugly and slow and boring like a golf cart.” That sort of tenacity seems to be a driving force behind Musk’s inability to think small. “If something’s important enough you should try. Even if you [think] the probable outcome is failure.”
The Model S has shown an electric car can be successful inside the U.S. It’s so successful, in fact, Tesla is having a hard time keeping up with demand, turning out 600 cars each week, despite a few fiery setbacks. Musk is even planning a $5 billion factory to be built within the U.S. for constructing enormous amounts of lithium-ion batteries. With the eventual lowered cost of battery production, Tesla’s next major goal is producing an all-electric car costing roughly $35,000, making the company and its technology open to a far greater number of consumers.
Click past the jump for more info on Elon Musk’s other projects
Big thinking has been Musk’s way of living since he moved to the U.S. in college. His first major success was creating a financial company that handled online payments between buyers and sellers. He sold the operation in 2002 - called PayPal – to eBay for $1.5 billion. "It was a good outcome," says Musk in the 60 Minutes interview.
Musk’s other current pet project is SpaceX – the only privately-owned space organization. “Only four entities have launched a space capsule into orbit and successfully brought it back: the United States, Russia, China and Elon Musk,” the CBS report states. SpaceX is currently fulfilling a $1.5 billion NASA contract for transportation to the International Space Station. Musk’s eventual goal for SpaceX is manned flights to Mars.
Back on Earth, Tesla Motors isn’t solely focused on the Model S production. The automaker is planning a new product — the Model X — an all-electric SUV with styling similar to the Model S, but with a high-riding chassis and more room for cargo. The Model X is expected to hit showrooms in 2015 as a 2016 model. Helping sustain both electric cars is Tesla’s Supercharger Network. The series of 480-volt, quick recharging stations are popping up around densely populated areas like San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. The network allows Model S owners to travel between cities with strategically placed recharging stations in between and within. More stations have opened up in the Northeast and in various European cities totaling 65 within the U.S. and 14 abroad.