Elon Musk is hailed as a “genius” by some.
And he is – but not in the way they mean it.
Like Henry Ford, Musk took something he didn’t invent that was essentially a curiosity and recast it in a different way. The difference being that when Henry Ford simplified the car by standardizing parts and mass producing them on an assembly line – as opposed to hand-building them, one at a time, as had been prior practice – the result was a much less expensive and far more practical car that almost anyone could afford to buy.
Musk did the opposite.
What Musk did was to rebrand the electric car as something sexy and “new” – even though the electric car concept is older than any Model T. But he made it seem new – and very sexy – by making it very quick and very sleek, with all the very latest in the way of gadgetry. All of which served to distract from its unaffordability, impracticality and inefficiency.
But the problem remained. How to sell what most people couldn’t afford?
Enter Elon’s real genius.
Unlike Henry Ford, who appealed to the marketplace, Elon Musk appealed to the government. Not merely to subsidize what he was otherwise unable to sell but – far more fundamental – to promote the sell. That is wasn’t merely an indulgence to purchase (or subsidize) an electric car.
It was a kind of moral necessity.
This is the nature of Elon’s “genius” – as contrasted with that of Henry Ford.
I always sorta liked Musk myself; he’s pretty skilled at donning the mantle of gadfly now and then, which is always amusing to me. That said, I see little if anything to argue with in Eric’s assessment here, unlovely though it is.