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Tesla’s greatest innovation

3 months ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


2 April 2024

I make a point of not writing about Tesla. I’ve found to my cost that many people have remarkably strong views on what has become, after all, just another car company. Even that statement will probably offend – somebody’s typing fingers will now be itching to point out that Tesla’s really a tech company, a software company, a scam, a cult, or the best or only chance to save humanity.

My opinions on its CEO, the company or the cars are unlikely to sway entrenched opinions, but they are depressingly likely to unleash unnecessary controversy on unsocial media. But today, I am girding my loins and going for it. We’re going to discuss Tesla’s biggest breakthrough.

So, what are the candidates? Launching the first half-practical EV since the GM EV1, in the form of a battery-crammed Lotus Elise tub called the Tesla Roadster? The first undeniably desirable EV, the Model S? Its excellent electric motors? The foresight to invest massively in vertically integrated battery production facilities like the Nevada Gigafactory? Those daft gullwing doors on the Model X? Programmable farting noises to appeal to kids of all ages? The remarkable marketing and legal chutzpah that allows them to sell a feature called Full Self Driving that is neither full nor self-driving, in the most litigious market on Earth?

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