When Elon Musk, he of the revered and apparently unparalleled ability to think outside the box, took over Tesla Motors in 2004 it was not really much more than a foundering start-up. His innovation and vision has made it what it is today but the time has come for the company to level up once again.
Tesla Motors has the potential to become a manufacturing powerhouse and a multibillion-dollar public company. However, to do that, Musk might need to change his cavalier attitude and habit of issuing off-the-cuff, know-it-all remarks. On the other hand, isn’t that part of what makes the successful entrepreneur who he is?
Tesla’s Recent Bumpy Road
Tesla has had some serious issues of late, and it’s more than enough to give investors pause. Among other things, the company has suffered a Moody’s downgrade, a self-imposed recall of 123,000 Model S vehicles due to issues with the steering columns, and a fatal car crash involving a Model X that was using Autopilot.
Tesla has said logs show the self-driving vehicle had given audio and visual alerts to the driver but that no appropriate actions had been taken. The investigation is ongoing, so the ultimate findings are not known at this time.
Besides all of this, a shareholder lawsuit against Musk is to go ahead after a Delaware judge recently denied a motion to dismiss it. The suit concerns the acquisition of SolarCity and while the denial of the motion is a blow, it is early days yet and Musk could certainly still win the case.
What is does mean is that more information about Tesla Motors could be revealed, causing a further drop in the value of its shares. The drop has been about 25% overall, and their S&P 500 index has gone down by 4.1%.
Issues Concerning the Model 3
What Tesla needs at this point is to produce its target numbers of Model 3 vehicles, and to do it within the targeted timeframe. This would help to recover the billions that have been used in the production of the cars, and it does seem that the kinks are finally being ironed out.
That said, the fact that Musk recently took over supervising production from Engineering Vice President Doug Field has generated interest and concern in some quarters. Business and tech news site The Information reported on it, and Musk himself has said he is back to sleeping on the factory floor as he did when the Model X was being rolled out. The idea here is to deal with problems as soon as they arise.
Musk Remains Cavalier
Elon Musk is no stranger to challenges, and has always thrived on them. He has denied that his taking over supervision is due to a fall from grace on Field’s part, and says it just makes sense for the stage of production that the cars are in. He also responded to The Information’s report on Twitter, questioning what they were reporting on and then sarcastically denying an interview request saying he had to build cars.
The iconoclast took things even further on April Fool’s Day, tweeting that Tesla was bankrupt despite a last-ditch attempt to raise funds by selling Easter eggs. Is it all just another day for Elon Musk, as we wait to watch him pull another rabbit out of another hat? Or is it cause for serious concern, with Musk fiddling like Nero as Rome burns? Time will tell, but the charismatic businessman will certainly make for interesting viewing as we wait to see what happens.