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Wall Street Journal talks to Elon Musk about Tesla, timelines, and karma
Posted on January 20, 2020 by Matt Pressman
Elon Musk has accomplished some remarkable things at Tesla. However, one consistent knock leveled against the CEO has been a habit of missing deadlines. Let's face it, Elon Musk has a track record of being late.
Above: Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Flickr: Steve Jurvetson)
However, John Stoll at the Wall Street Journal thinks this well-worn critique might need to be reconsidered after recent events. The Shanghai Gigafactory was built in under a year. And Tesla's already churning out over 1,000 Model 3s per week. After witnessing this progress, Stoll says, "Tesla’s win is a win for the disruptor... Tesla is meeting its targets."
The Wall Street Journal reached out to Musk to see if he’d be up for doing a victory lap. He demurred because it is “bad karma.”
Stoll says, "I’ll take the lap for him." Why? "The Shanghai production achievement matters to a broader auto industry struggling to go global, succeed in the Chinese market, and go electric," explains Stoll. "But this latest 'gigafactory' and the surpassing of its 2019 sales target also raise an important prospect. If Mr. Musk starts hitting his targets with regularity, Tesla will quickly go from interesting phenomenon to major industry player."
“It was a phenomenal accomplishment by any measure,” Michael Dunne, a consultant on China’s auto industry, told the Wall Street Journal. “They clearly applied a lot of lessons learned from their fraught ramp-up in Fremont.”
Above: Insight into why Elon Musk's accomplishments in China are so noteworthy (YouTube: CNBC Television)
Granted, Tesla experienced well-documented issues missing deadlines during the company's initial Model 3 rollout. But it's critical to put things into context — especially within the wider automotive industry. Stoll notes, "the broken-promises problem is an auto-industry problem. General Motors Co. has failed to meet electric-vehicle targets; Ford Motor Co. widely missed projections for a Lincoln luxury-brand revival; Volkswagen AG repeatedly missed forecasts for U.S. market share gains."
That said, Stoll reminds us that, "Any analysis of Mr. Musk is incomplete without mentioning his reputation for missing the mark on lofty projections. He’s aware of it. When predicting last April that Tesla would have autonomous robotaxis in 2020, he warned his forecast faces this 'only criticism—and it’s a fair one—sometimes I’m not on time.'"
Stoll says it’s wise to pay close attention to Musk’s choice of words immediately following that statement.
"But, I get it done," said Musk.
Source: Wall Street Journal