September 28, 2020

Winning the electric car race is just the beginning of Elon Musk’s plan for Tesla

The idea that automakers are racing to commercialise electric cars — and that one or some of them will come out on top — has always been flawed.

For starters, the auto industry is huge: More than a billion passenger vehicles are roaming the planet, with another 80 million or so joining them every year. No single victor could satisfy that level of demand.

This was obvious even in the early days of the auto industry, when scores of carmakers, engine-makers, and coach builders were competing to put Americans and Europeans behind the wheel. Yes, there were obvious winners and losers: Henry Ford captured a huge amount of market share early on with his Model T, then General Motors grew itself into a competitor and took the lead. But more than a century on, both are carrying on, more or less fine. That’s not how races work.

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