A Look Back: Tesla Motors and the Revenge of the Electric Car

Oftentimes during a long holiday weekend (btw... Happy Memorial Day), it's a worthwhile activity to look back, take stock, and evaluate things. With the media spotlight shining so brightly on Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] and it's CEO Elon Musk, it's hard to remember how far the man (and the company) have come since the early days. Luckily, much of the early struggles surrounding Tesla were chronicled in a fantastic movie, Revenge of the Electric Car.  

Source: Revenge of the Electric Car*

However, originally, Director Chris Paine profiled the shocking story of GM's EV1 in Who Killed the Electric Car. What was portrayed in that film had a profound impact on Tesla CEO Elon Musk. As luck would have it, Musk starred in the follow-up film. According to the CBC*, it's sequel, Revenge of the Electric Car, "follows the auto industry's high stakes race to build the next generation electric car. With behind-the-scenes access to GM, Nissan, Tesla Motors, and the visionaries behind the companies, we witness the fierce competition the industry is now waging to not only build the best, but win the hearts and minds of car buyers around the world." Be sure to check it out as it recently premiered on PBS' Independent Lens...

of Revenge of the Electric Car*

In the movie, "Revenge of the Electric Car, Director Chris Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors, and an independent car converter... to find the story of the global resurgence of electric cars. Without using a single drop of foreign oil, this new generation of automobiles is America’s future: fast, furious, and cleaner than ever."

Source: Revenge of the Electric Car*

One intriguing profile in the movie is, "Bob Lutz, the larger than life General Motors executive who inspires the Volt" who nowadays is a regular guest on CNBC roasting Tesla stock and antagonizing Elon Musk in the process. It's important to remember that Tesla's Roadster was actually the catalyst for Lutz to green light the Chevy Volt. As Newsweek reported, "GM engineers didn't want to switch gears to a plug-in electric, which they insisted couldn't be run on lithium-ion batteries. The turning point came when tiny Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced... it would produce a speedy electric sports car powered by those same laptop batteries. 'That tore it for me,' says Lutz. 'If some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it's unfeasible.'"

Source: Revenge of the Electric Car*

Looking back, it's amazing to see how Tesla CEO Elon Musk buckles down in order to get production issues handled. Of all those profiled in the film, Musk (and Tesla) have clearly prevailed. But, many of the challenges that tested Musk in the film: fast-growth, naysayers, and keeping up with an impatient customer base are still issues the company faces today. Now older and wiser, Musk is far more seasoned to handle future challenges. Nevertheless, the movie is a refreshing look at how far Tesla Motors has come in such a short time.


*Source: CBC; Original Stills and Video: Revenge of the Electric Car