It was one in the morning when Tesla employees got an email from Elon. About budget cuts, and therefore employee cuts. Surprising? Not really. The man doesn't sleep. Elon used to be my man crush, and my daydreams that he wore black skinny jeans and cool t-shirts were confirmed by Tesla employees that I've met as I exclaimed my fandom for Elon. Perhaps we all were starstruck as we should have been, as Tesla became a world changer and a substantive market force in one of the most difficult markets to overcome: the automotive industry. How do you not have a soft spot in your heart for someone who makes a flamethrower, for fun, and calls it "Not a Flamethrower" because it's illegal to name a product "flamethrower"? However, I no longer have the passion for Tesla as I used to. Here are my largest critics of one of my still, favorite people on the planet:
1. 100 Hour Work Weeks? I hope you pay OT.
Although many people gave up on Elon after his interview with Joe Rogan, I am more concerned with his statement about 100 hour work weeks. His belief that you can't expect to change the world if you work less than 100 hours a week may be true in his case, but I fear that Elon doesn't have a full picture of sustainability for himself or his companies. Elon has stated that he hardly eats breakfast, and with his work week, it only leaves 9.7 hours out of each day for eating, sleeping, and whatever else. Which is sounds like he doesn't do much of either. Sometimes in the quest for success, it's easy to forget that the basic necessities of sleep and nutrition are essential to, I don't know, LIFE. I'm shocked that someone as rich as he is doesn't hire a chef to make him a huge power breakfast every morning. I'm not so shocked that he's been able to accomplish as much as he has without a focus on these basics. Elon is undoubtedly a powerhouse that surpasses normality. But all hyper-driven success expeditions in anyone, even Elon, result in the unavoidable: burnout.
2. Elon Should Take Notes From The Top
In 2019, it may be a competitive landscape for employees to find work, but it is an ever growing competition for companies to receive the best work. Employee satisfaction is perhaps the greatest indicator in company success. Successful investors recommend investing in companies with the highest. Microsoft, for example, offers mind-boggling benefits for new parents, and one of my favorite LinkedIn posts at the moment is of a gas station who's minimum wage is $14. The turnover rate, not surprisingly is astoundingly low for its sector. Human talent is, as Musk understands, the most "world-changing" asset. It should, therefore, be treated as such.
3. Other Car Companies Are Stark Competition
Volkswagen is working on cloud-connected vehicles. Chevy has the Volt with a 53-mile electric range before it uses gas, and the Prius has a Plug-In Hybrid option. Porsche created a hybrid supercar that creates its own energy. The car industry is cutthroat, and Tesla has defied the odds and become a market threat. But sustaining this, as I think Musk understands, is exceptionally difficult. Musk's incentive as the multi-millions he will receive if Tesla hits certain market goals may drive him to make irrational decisions about what will keep Tesla thriving.
4. Electric Energy Is Not Necessarily Renewable
Electric energy has massive potential to be vastly renewable, through wind, ocean, and solar capture. However, a large portion of electric energy currently comes from coal. Coal mining is not painless, as it causes ground subsidence- meaning houses and business buildings can cave and fall apart if they are built on top of old coal mines. While I was a student at Southern Illinois, I did research on this subsidence and saw first hand the homes, and even grocery stores that subsidence tore apart. While Elon is pushing the longevity of Tesla, other massive companies like Shell are working on renewable energy sources that could outdo fuel and even electricity. But for Tesla to truly be a car of the future, electricity has to take care of the future as well. Musk's Solar City ventures to give homeowners the option for solar-powered roofs are currently at a standstill and not on the market, and the renewable resource market still has massive room for disruption.
5. The Tesla Has Massive Drawbacks
I'll end on a few facts about Tesla that may stop you from owning one: cold weather drives the battery down, and you have to REPLACE the tires every few thousand miles. You may not need to change the oil, but the heavy battery is enough to call the mechanic every few months, which may be hours away. In the state of Oklahoma, there are no licensed mechanics, so Teslas must be shipped to the nearest Service Center in Texas. The Tesla is a high-maintenance, non-viable option for anyone who doesn't' have a personal assistant or local Whole Foods Market with a car charging location in the parking lot. Musk may be driving the costs down on the Model 3 to market to the middle class, but these hidden maintenance pains make this car an upper-middle-class car at the minimum, and it will remain that way. Electricity is a tough fuel for a tool as demanding as a vehicle, and it may not end up on top as the fuel of the future.