April 11, 2016
Tesla Motors was not really challenged the way other innovative ideas have been in the past, however it was repeatedly dismissed. Before the Roadster came out people put the idea of a practical electric auto into the boondoggle category. After it came out detractors denounced it as a niche market car. Belittled Tesla Motors by implying they had only succeeded in editing a Lotus Elise into an electric go-kart. After the Tesla Model S was released the tune changed drastically. For the first time in decades, the gas-rich automotive industry was terrified of losing its stranglehold on the automotive market. Granted, the Toyota Prius had already been released, but in that case electricity was merely supplemental to the star of the show gasoline. The Tesla Model S showed people that one could feasibly own an electric car that I have never told you this personified (and potentially nonexistent) audience, but I love to see change (preferably progress, but any intelligent alterations are enlightening to a degree). I hate it when people assert, oh this [insert: system, product, ideology, or whatever] is best, because it has been around for years, and it cannot possibly be improved on, so do not dare even challenge it. In that sense, I love that because the internet, established norms are not only being questioned (#tonedownforwhat), but debunked and destroyed (in some cases). As John Stewart Mills wrote in On Liberty, the only way for ideas to be proven correct is by putting their anthropomorphic feet in the fire. If they can withstand a figurative fire trial, then they will be all the stronger for it, or unequivocally incorrect. Tesla Motors has done the automotive market a favor, by metaphorically telling the petrol only interest groups to shove off. This will yield one of two eventual effects. Either gasoline loving automakers will find ways to keep petrol alive (which I greatly would appreciate because electric cars are not as fun lacking gears to shift) by making it more efficient and environmentally friendly, or they will not and gasoline will go the way of coal in the US. The latter is highly unlikely to happen anytime soon for a few reasons. First, gas is only moderately more expensive (see thorium) than the dirt they have to drill through to accrue it, due to innovative new drilling techniques. Thus, Tesla Motors does not pose an imminent enough threat, people are more parsimonious (by necessity) than they are principled (which is first a world luxury). Even if that were not the case, it would still be a struggle for Tesla and electric cars to assume market dominance. The oil and gas Lobby will fight tooth and nail to make sure that the electric infrastructure is implemented as slowly as humanly possible, while still being legal. That, paired with the fact that oil and gas are immensely subsidized every step of the way, will ensure that electric cars stay inconvenient for as long as possible. Thus, while the Tesla Model S and Model 3 might be the best cars ever, they are mildly inconvenient, and that is still their Achilles heel.