Why Nikola Tesla would love the… Tesla
Guest Blog Post: John Wasik is the author of 16 books, including The Debt-Free Degree and Keynes's Way to Wealth. He's a regular contributor to The New York Times, Forbes, CBS Moneywatch, AARP, Financial Planning and and has spoken all across North America. As a former columnist for Bloomberg and Reuters, his columns have appeared in newspapers on five continents. He's also been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, PBS and radio stations from Australia to Israel.
If there was ever a more potent rebranding of the Tesla narrative, it came in spades with the launching of the Tesla Roadster in 2008. While it certainly wasn’t the first all-electric car, it was the sleekest, sexiest and fastest car without a tailpipe. It also revived the Tesla name, this time as a hot global brand. The six-figure Roadster proved to be a success, and was followed by the more pedestrian “Model S” in 2012, a more mainstream sedan listing for around $70,000 before tax credits. The car, silent as a puma on the prowl, rode as smoothly as chiffon.
Above: Nikola Tesla looking down on a Tesla Model S (Instagram: tesla.lovers)
What you don’t see when you drive the Tesla Model S is the system behind it that installs software updates over the Internet. It isn’t just an electric car, it is a cybernetic, semi-automaton — a four-wheel computer connected to engineers through infinite bandwidth. Nikola Tesla was a systems guy, which why he would love a car backed by software that can be updated wirelessly. It was Nikola Tesla who was engineering a wireless power system in the early 20th Century. Cars, boats and planes would be powered by a network of towers across the world “broadcasting” electricity.
Above: Matthew Inman's illustration as a tribute to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe (Source: The Oatmeal)
Having emerged as one of the sine qua non status symbols on the road, the Tesla was something the inventor would’ve embraced. New commands and upgrades could be sent to the car’s brain wirelessly. Now, if the car didn’t need half a ton of batteries and could be recharged by energy in the atmosphere, it would become the perfect car, even one that could be eventually driven without a human behind the wheel, which the company is developing.
Above: Author John Wasik and his book “Lightning Strikes: Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla” (Source: Author)
Nikola Tesla would’ve loved the Tesla car for another reason. It will work over long distances through the growing network of ultra-fast charging stations so that owners wouldn’t suffer from “range anxiety.” While Nikola Tesla would’ve loved everyone driving his namesake car to be powered by wireless, free energy, Musk is onto that idea. If his integrated Powerwall system takes off, it will make Tesla drivers energy producers as well. That’s something that would bring a big smile to the inventor’s face.
Above: The Nikola Tesla Room and downloadable mobile app (Source: Author)
There’s much more in my book “Lightning Strikes: Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla” (Sterling, 2016). If you buy the book, you can access a free, downloadable mobile app that liberates embedded augmented reality videos from the book’s illustrations. It’s at amazon.com, bn.com, and in Barnes & Noble stores across the country.