Dance, Dance, Dance: Elon Musk’s Remarkable Performance
During our stint at CES this week we’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people about advanced technology. And about what ought not be all that “advanced,” as it really is nothing new: Electric vehicles.
And one of the things that invariably comes up during the conversation is not just Tesla, and its dominance of the electric car field (it was interesting to hear Byton CEO Daniel Kirchert say on stage Sunday during his presentation of the M-Byte and a whole raft of partners and apps that he thinks they are
ready to take on Tesla, something often implied by execs but never said out loud through an obviously hot mic), is the man Elon Musk.
Musk is a bigger-than-life person who revels in his outrageousness, such as the Shanghai strip tease that he performed earlier this week.
Somehow it is difficult to imagine Ford’s Jim Hackett or VW’s Herbert Diess pulling such a stunt.
There's Different. Then There's. . .
Of course, an argument could be made that Musk is of Silicon Valley, not Detroit or Wolfsburg and consequently there is a different approach to be expected.
But would we see Apple’s Tim Cook or Microsoft’s Satya Nadella behaving in such a way? Doubtful. Some may recall one-time Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer being more than slightly animated when he would make presentations (tongue firmly planted in cheek here), but those seemed to have been in support of the products, not Ballmer the person. Which doesn’t seem to be the case with Musk.
While it may not be entirely ALL about him, it is damned close. It seems.
However. . .
Beyond Cardio Benefits
As bizarre as some of his behavior is, there is absolutely no question that Musk has had a positive, transformative effect on the auto industry.
Tesla products have shaken executives in Detroit, Germany and Japan out of their seeming stupor that was brought on by the seemingly endless success of internal combustion engines. There is not an OEM that hasn’t had to come up with a plan to take on Tesla, whether they’re as forthright about it as Kirchert was.
And consumers benefit too, because the array of “compliance cars” that some companies have put out simply as a matter of meeting regulations have proven to be simply unacceptable so far as customers are concerned (odds are that most of the people in California who have bought them simply did for HOV stickers not because they actually wanted them) in light of what they could get from Tesla, so the vehicles being brought out are of much higher caliber. (Think: Porsche Taycan.)
Yes, Elon did that.
So maybe he should keep on dancing.
Although the RAV4 has plenty of heritage in the small crossover segment, competition has gotten a whole lot tougher, so Toyota has made significant changes to the fourth-generation model.
Dan Nicholson is vice president of General Motors Global Propulsion Systems, the organization that had been “GM Powertrain” for 24 years.
Once the playground of exotic car makers, the definition of a niche vehicle has expanded to include image vehicles for mainstream OEMs, and specialist models produced on high-volume platforms.