Hector Cademartori does great artwork, we all know that. When asked for his contribution for the LACOTD-article Hector created a great piece of art, as well as an article on his thoughts. A snippet of his thoughts were included in the LACOTD-article, but we figured his article deserves its own post.
I’m not into electric cars. I’m not into e-racing. I did an article for a European magazine about the General Motors EV-1 back in 1996 or ’97 and I realized that electric cars were not my cup of tea. I have nothing against them and nothing in favor of them. I’m just not interested in the same way that I’m not interested in many other products of the car universe.
LACar’s Car of the Decade is a pretty open proposition. My choice is a car that became so ubiquitous that I had to pay attention even if I was not interested in it: the Tesla S. In fact the marque became a household name and people who don’t know anything about cars now know what a Tesla is.
Kind of like “Ferrari”. Most people don’t know the difference between a 488 and a California, but everybody knows what a Ferrari is. And that they’re expensive. Very few cars will qualify as LACOTD more than the Tesla S because, in fact, it started selling less than a decade ago, in 2012.
The other huge factor was the owner of the company, Elon Musk, a South African by birth who came to the US via Canada, collected passports in both countries, did some technology stuff, made a truckload of money and decided to open an electric car company.
In the beginning there were a myriad of problems with deliveries and the promise of a model less expensive than the first 100K Model S. Musk also caused an uproar by selling directly to customers without a conventional dealership network (oh the horror!). Using the Tesla website and company stores (usually located in shopping malls) is something that’s prohibited in many states and resulted in dealership associations filing lawsuits.
Apparently the ambitious Mr. Musk had some free time and wanted to get into the business of outer space travel as well. After a disappointing meeting with Russians (who …er build rockets) lead him to the decision to cut cut out the middleman, he opened his own rocket shop and named it SpaceX. He started sending his own machines into space with the intention of, one day, populating the Moon, Venus or Mars… one of those … you know, something simple.
Subsequently, Elon got into producing the mission-critical batteries for his cars and last year opened a car factory in Shangai, China. In the meantime Tesla started selling components to Toyota and Daimler AG for their electric product line. The company is also big in self-driving systems, started producing other models (X and 3) with a “Blade Runner”-flavored pick-up truck coming up in the near future. Tesla delivered 367,500 cars in 2019, a snappy 50% increase to their 2018 numbers.
Mr. Musk got into solar power (seems he found a bit more free time) as well as other projects which I’m not sure what they are, and I’m not sure I’d understand even if it was explained to me. In September of 2018 he caused a big imbroglio with a tweet indicating that he had secured funding to take the shares of his company private which caused members of the US Securities and Exchange Commission to clutch their pearls and immediately filed a suit. The case was settled and Musk and Tesla paid a fine of $20 million each, making Musk and the SEC Pay Pals… er, I mean pals.
In 2018 he learned about the horrible situation of a team of young soccer players and their coach trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand and immediately ordered his team of engineers from SpaceX and The Boring Company (yes, this is another of his projects and the real name of the company) to design and build in record time a miniature submarine to rescue the kids.
The mini-sub was built but the kids were rescued and the submarine was not used. Nonetheless, Elon Musk was later awarded a Member of the Order of the Direkgunabhorn by the King of Thailand for his and his team’s contributions to the rescue mission. Later on, the head of the rescue team dismissed the effort as “nothing more than a public relations scheme” and that Musk “can stick his submarine where it hurts” creating another unsavory exchange of tweets and verbal attacks – from both sides – and confirming that no good deed goes unpunished.
Like other car company owners in history; Henry Ford, Enzo Ferrari, Preston Tucker or John DeLorean, we cannot extract Elon Reese Musk from Tesla.
At this point I realized that more than LA Car of the Decade, this has really been about the car company and owner of the decade. So be it.
Also, check out the Los Angeles Car Of The Decade article.