Amid all the noise, the company is actually still changing transportation.
From its massive expansion of superchargers to the unveiling of the Tesla Semi, I've written a fair amount over the years about Elon Musk & Co.'s audacious efforts to electrify transportation and help curb climate change.
Lately, however, I've been somewhat less enthusiastic. Whether it was the unsubstantiated mud-slinging or picking a fight with the SEC, there just seemed to be too much erratic behavior that distracted from the company's core purpose; and yet, my daily drive to work has reminded me of something else. Amid all the noise, Tesla is still doing more than most companies to electrify transportation and help curb climate change.As I've written before, I used to get excited when I saw a lone Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S or Chevy Volt on the road. Now, however, it's almost unheard of for me to leave my house without seeing three or four Model 3s, plus many other plug-in vehicles, within the space of my 20-minute commute. And that's only likely to become more so because, as reported over at Cleantechnica, Tesla sold 54,540 Model 3s alone in Q3 of this year, plus 8,000 Model S and 7,000 Model X. Compare that to Q3 of last year, and the top selling electric car (the model S) only shifted just under 9,00 units.
Almost single handedly, the Model 3—which was the fifth best selling sedan of any make (author's note: This link has been corrected thanks to reader comments) in America in Q3—is looking like it's doubling electric car sales in the US. And that's before Tesla reaches full production capacity, and before a whole slew of new plug-in models are released by the legacy car makers too. Yes, the electrification of transportation has been a little slow to take off, but like so many examples of technological adoption rates, once it does the shift could be rapid and difficult to stop.
Now, none of this is intended to suggest that the troubles at Tesla aren't real. Musk's tweets have been erratic and, in some cases, pretty appalling. The number of electric cars a person is building means little if he can't afford to keep building them. I'm no industry analyst, so I'm going to refrain from passing judgement on the long-term viability of Tesla. But I will say this: Elon Musk has already turbocharged (supercharged?) the electric vehicle segment.
And that genie will be hard to put back in the bottle.