How Tesla Motors Outsmarted The Automobile Industry With Real Innovation


smarter-carAutomobile manufacturers have been repeating the same policies for years. They tend to buy existing parts from third-party manufacturers, instead of designing or building their own. This is one reason why cars have lacked originality for decades.

Tesla Motors (run by Elon Musk) then came along and flipped the script, bringing production for the most critical components in house. This seperated them from major auto makers, who turned to other technology companies to buy or license current technology, rather than developing their own.

Tesla designs and manufactures most of their own parts, though some less-important components come from suppliers. To top it all off, they are determined. They operated for years without turning a profit, and only recently has the money begun to flow. It is difficult to start out a new company, especially a new automaker, so success may not have happened without years of sheer determination.

It was a brilliant move to bring design in-house, allowing Tesla to implement both quality and cost controls. This is why the Tesla Model S isn’t just the best electric car, but one of the best cars you can buy right now, period. Designing and manufacturing your own parts enables you to innovate by building the parts around your new and improved designs. In other words, you can’t improve cars unless you come up with a new design yourself.

That is why Tesla’s battery packs are considered the best in the industry. By latching together numerous laptop battery cells, Tesla created a dense, high-energy pack in a (comparatively) small and affordable package.

Then there is the fact that buying a Tesla opens a world of service opportunities and access to free, often off-the-grid fast charging. The Tesla Supercharger network will soon cover most of North America, and anytime your Model S needs service, Tesla will loan you a fully-equipped Model S for the duration of the service.

Meanwhile, the rest of the car manufacturers also try to sell their cars with gimmicks. While BMW offers headlamp dimmers and rain sensing wipers (which are pointless because people will turn their wipers on, as they can’t see when it is raining), Tesla Motors offers free fast charging and a truly innovative, next-generation vehicle.

How do you feel about the manner in which conventional car manufacturers operate compared to that of Tesla Motors? Sound off in the comment section!

About the Author

loves attending and writing about/photographing events, and he writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, automobiles, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography.
  • J_JamesM

    I believe that carmakers have been operating in a fairly stagnant environment until Tesla came along. Sure, there was innovation, but where there simply isn’t much room for improvement (such as the BMW you mentioned), the car companies have to compete with one another by adding more gimmicks than the Other Guy.

    Have you ever seen the control console of a modern luxury car? It is a hopelessly complicated warren of completely and utterly useless functions and settings that the average user has no idea how to implement.

    Then along comes Tesla, with their ginormous touchscreen that is very intuitive and simple to use. It’s a breath of fresh air.

  • GregS

    I have enormous admiration for Tesla and also SpaceX, Elon’s other phenomenol start up. I canot wait to see his next couple of cars and might just possibly buy one.

  • Brad Hyatt

    This all sounds wonderful when passed through a marketing department and finished with a spin cycle. I am sure that Tesla has manufactured and designed a magnificent system for propulsion powered by electricity likely, the best available on the market. Where else are they going to buy that from with so few alternatives on the market?

    It seems to imply that other manufactures just do not design and build their own components. “Some less important components come from suppliers” is what is stated in the article regarding Tesla and is likely true of all other car manufactures. I am most familiar with the way Honda builds cars as i work in Logistics and they are our primary customer. They build the engines, transmissions and a lot of other components on the vehicle. They design every component of the vehicle whether it is produced by a supplier or in house and those suppliers are held to unbelievable quality standards. Suppliers are an important part of the manufacturing process as they each are likely specialist in producing individual compnent systems whether it be forging suspension components or assembling cooling systems.

    To say that other manufactures do not innovate is a ridiculous claim and using BMW as an example of that failure to innovate is odd. The 3 series today is far different from that of ten years ago and even more so than twenty years ago. The powertrains today produce more power with greater efficiency than ever before. I suppose I missed the advertising touting rain-sensing wipers as some great innovation. It just seems that the best thing is to do what you do and do it well rather than trying to denigrate the competition. I am sure considering pricepoint and performance that the average BMW buyer fits the market for the Tesla offerings well.

    There was one statement in this article that makes me question the great innovation and struggle to keep manufacturing in house. I understand it may only be an attempt to simplify the actual product by relating it to something with which everyone is familiar. “By latching together numerous laptop battery cells” Dear God, I can only hope they are better than the batteries in all of the laptops I have ever owned.

  • Brad Hyatt

    The touchscreen is impressive but, it looks to control just as many completely and utterly useless options as the other console. I wonder how the ambient light from the touchscreen is at night. I know that to use the knobs and switches in a conventional setup a user can easily do so without looking away from the road once they become familiar with the layout. With the touchscreen it may likely be as bothersome as idrive was to many requiring a driver to look away from the business at hand to simply change the radio station or adjust the heater controls. It looks like a great idea for a concept car but a disaster for everyday use. Time will tell.

    • GregS

      Brad, while I like the Tesla S I am in agreement with you about the touchscreen. I’d rather have all my controls operable by feel then by sight. All I need is a small screen for Navigation.

    • nuocmam

      Take a test drive to clear your doubt. Once you’ve got your hands on it, other cars’ bells & whistles & knobs & buttons feel so dinosaurs. It’s very intuitive, very neat and tidy, very advance , very safe that works nights and days!

    • All controls that need to be accessed while driving are available by steering wheel buttons or voice. I’m sure there’s a brightness setting for the screen, or even allow you to turn it off.

  • ilikecheesedoyoulikecheese

    I like the direct to consumer sales model. Dealers are useless middlemen that just hike up the price of a vehicle and add on BS fees. The politicians at the state level are fighting this paradigm shift on behalf of the useless dealers, but they will ultimately lose.

  • jj

    It takes lots of money to sell junk. GM spends $1 Billion/yr on marketing to convince us to buy their junk instead of impressing us like Tesla. Then we have government that will grant their (major auto manufacturer) wishes with deductions for us to buy even more of their junk. And we have fallen for it “hook-line-and-sinker” for years.

  • anderlan

    Haha, BMW has the automatic windshield wiper. Tesla has FREE MOTHERFLIPPIN ROAD TRIPS.

  • t_

    The BMWs are very good cars with impressive technology, but this is it – innovation. Even the best horse carriage is not as good as the worst rocket(it is not quite the case, but the Tesla drivetrain is really revolutionary). Maybe finally the car makers will push and we’ll see technological jumps instead of very small steps.

  • susannaschick

    even more in love with Elon Musk than ever. Engineers are hawt. Especially when they’re hell-bent on saving the planet by making awesome vehicles. Now if we could just get him on a motorcycle…

  • Andrew

    I hope the other manufacturers will consider moving in this direction, perhaps like Saturn did at GM. Elon has said he wants more competition, and he means it. His vision is for electric cars everywhere. The Leaf is a great car, and is very affordable. I am a Model S owner, and I was going to purchase a Leaf prior to the Model S. Whenever someone looks at my Model S, and comments on the price, I tell them about the Leaf.

  • Pingback: Not Recycled Hawtness: the Million-mile Porsche 356 Coupe()

  • gbacoder

    ” latching together numerous laptop battery cells”

    that does not not at all sound “in-house” for a “critical component” …..