Good Example of How Certain Entrepreneurs Can Make Things Happen Faster Than Anyone Thought...About three years ago, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, and Dan Neil, an automotive journalist now at the Wall Street Journal, made the the following bet at 1000-to-1 odds ($1000 for Neil, $1 million for Musk) because Neil couldn't believe that Tesla, a company without even a factory where to build Model S, could deliver:
(1) Series production models of the Tesla Model S have to be delivered to paying customers before the end of 2012. (It was originally 2011, but Neil concedes that Tesla said it wouldn't make that date fairly early, and has since stuck to its 2012 date.)
(2) The Model S has to have seven passenger seats, certified as such by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and earn a 4- or 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA.
(3) It has to have a battery pack that allows en-route swapping at a highway roadside station, similar to the Better Place battery swapping scheme.
(4) Model S prices must remain at the levels Tesla and Musk announced: $57,400 for the version with 160 miles of range, $67,400 for the 230-mile version, and $77,400 (was $87,400, corrected) for the top-of-the-line 300-mile version (which will comprise the bulk of early production). All prices are before any Federal or other incentives.
If Tesla misses any one of those targets, Neil says, he wins the bet and Musk must donate $1 million to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
But if Tesla does what it said it will, Neil loses, and--being a journalist, not a multimillionaire entrepreneur--he will donate $1,000 to the same group.
Well, Neil has now written a piece fo the WSJ congratulating Musk on the Model S and on winning the bet. Here's an excerpt:
Mr. Musk’s Model S was a radically different automotive vision — a premium sedan with an all-electric powertrain, potential seven-passenger seating, and a battery back that would serve as a stressed, that is, a load-bearing member of the chassis, and yet would be easily removed and replaced. That such a car should come in three years from a company that at the time didn’t even have an assembly hall seemed an impossible boast. [...]
Last week, Tesla Motors began customer deliveries of the Model S built at its facility in Fremont, Ca., a little over three years after our bet and a mere two years after Tesla bought the former GM/Toyota assembly hall. The new Model S is exactly the car he described, delivered six months before the end of 2012.
This morning I made a donation of $1,000 to Doctors Without Borders.
I guess everybody wins with bets like that. Electric vehicles are moving faster forward thanks to entrepreneurs like Musk, and great NGOs like DWB are getting 1.001 million dollars...
Also note that Elon Musk has signed the Giving Pledge and promised to give away most of his fortune to charity, so the more money he can compound now, the better for philanthropy later.
See also: The Jury's In: Tesla Model S is Awesome!