Power Play | Tim Higgins

Summary of: Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century
By: Tim Higgins


Gear up for a thrilling journey into the world of Tesla, Elon Musk, and a daring bet that changed the face of the automotive industry. In ‘Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century’ by Tim Higgins, you’ll discover the backstory of how Silicon Valley engineer Martin Eberhard and investor Elon Musk joined forces to create the groundbreaking electric car company. Get ready to dive into the fascinating world of Tesla’s early years, the development of the revolutionary Roadster and Model S, and the company’s eventual rise to the top of the global car market, against all odds.

The Birth of Tesla Motors

In this book excerpt, we learn how Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning started Tesla Motors with the vision of creating an electric sports car that could compete with gasoline-powered models. They pitched their idea to Elon Musk, who invested in and became chairman of the company. Despite initial skepticism, Musk’s daring vision and financial support enabled the creation of the Roadster, paving the way for the success of Tesla Motors.

Tesla’s Electric Revolution

Tesla’s engineers managed to create a fully electric sports car using lightweight lithium-ion batteries that would set the Roadster apart from any other electric vehicle. However, Tesla was plagued by money problems, but Elon Musk managed to steer the company away from ruin. He pushed the engineers to develop a separate line of luxury sedans known as the Model S, which would be Tesla’s first foray into the mainstream auto market. Musk’s fundraising strategy worked, and by 2011, the company’s total revenue had swelled to almost $1 billion.

The Rise and Rifts of Musk’s Leadership at Tesla

Elon Musk’s aggressive leadership style and increasing control over Tesla led to rifts with others in the company. Despite his shortcomings and bouts of rage, Musk’s ambitious marketing strategy helped him consolidate his power and grow the company exponentially.

Tesla’s Turbulent Journey

Tesla faced significant operational challenges while ignoring customer satisfaction, yet still managed to survive and thrive.

With its rapid growth, Tesla encountered various operational issues that threatened its existence significantly. Unlike traditional automakers, Tesla disregarded typical testing protocols in a bid to meet its demanding production schedule. German automakers, for instance, would run a car six million miles over two winters to identify and address potential engineering issues, whereas Tesla ran tests for only one million miles over six months, given its tight timeline. The testing procedures did not factor into the production schedule, which often resulted in last-minute fixes and added expenses.

Under Musk’s leadership, everyone raced against time to beat production schedules. This approach led to chaos on the factory floor, with workers often having to continue production even when addressing maintenance issues. As a result, the company recorded 8.8 injuries per 100 workers, significantly higher than the industry average of 6.7.

Despite Tesla’s many defects and recalls, the Model S would eventually prove to be a turning point for the company. The company neglected its customer experience, recorded high injury rates, and routinely issued recalls to fix previously sold cars. However, Tesla still managed to survive and thrive by prioritizing its electric vehicle offerings and acquiring skilled individuals to help solve its operational challenges.

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