Tesla Marks Milestone As Threats Gather

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tesla marks milestone as threats gather

Some 12 years and one month ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk delivered the firm’s first electric vehicle… to himself. Fast-forward to today, and electric vehicle are sprouting from automakers the world over — including the “legacy” automakers Teslaphiles so often deride as out of touch.

On Monday, the company that opened the floodgates for EV proliferation marked a production milestone once thought of as inconceivable: its millionth car.

Musk marked the occasion in a tweet depicting a red Model Y crossover surrounded by Fremont, California assembly plant staff.

Congratulations Tesla team on making our 1,000,000th car!! pic.twitter.com/5M99a9LLQi

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 10, 2020

The Model Y went into production in January, with deliveries expected before the end of this month.

While the Model Y will carry the automaker into what it hopes is a continuously profitable future (it’s made gains on the financial front in recent quarters), it was the Model 3 sedan that brought Tesla into the near-mainstream. After a difficult ramp-up, volume surged, and a Chinese plant opened late last year provided the company with a new outlet for fresh rolling stock. Logging is underway to clear the path for a German factory.

Since the Model S first entered production in 2012 (after the Lotus partnership ended and the pool of Roadsters dried up), Tesla has sought to cement itself into the fabric of the auto landscape. In doing so, it enraged analysts and insiders who blasted the upstart California company’s shoddy devotion to industry best practices. There was a tent, you’ll recall.

Concern still abounds about the quality of the produced vehicles, about the ethics of the company under its present CEO, of the servicing issues that cropped up as volume rose, and of the continued misuse of the company’s half-baked Autopilot driver-assist suite, but those people find themselves outnumbered by those who feel a car isn’t truly electric unless the word “Tesla” comes affixed to its sides. This, despite numerous electric vehicles now on the market. The Nissan Leaf, it should be pointed out, is in the third year of its second generation. It means little to Tesla devotees.

Tesla — and with it, Musk — can do no wrong.

Still, passing the one million mark is a notable achievement for any automaker, least of all a fully electric one that showered in red ink much of its life. Often times, it appeared that Tesla was hanging on by a thread; indeed, Musk did nothing to dispel this image, even as recently as a couple of years ago. But the Model 3 ramp-up and subsequent investments in overseas production and new model development seemed to calm the seas.

In the broader industry, the seas are anything but calm. Or certain. With electrification chiseled in stone as the industry’s only acceptable future, automakers big and small are climbing over each other for a slice of a hazy market, promising enormous EV take rate and volume. General Motors (of all companies) was the most recent to do so, rolling out its modular EV platform and proprietary battery technology last week while promising EVs in every segment and at every price point.

All of this means more competition for Tesla, though no legacy automaker — not even Porsche — can claim the same level of devotion that Tesla enjoys from its [s]disciples[/s] buyers. It remains to be seen what happens to Tesla’s status after the electric motor replaces internal combustion as the dominant propulsion type.

[Image: Aleksei Potov/Shutterstock]

Join the conversation
3 of 37 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Mar 10, 2020

    How long before we get to see a Tesla Junkyard Find?

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Mar 10, 2020

    "Some 12 years and one month ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk delivered the firm’s first electric vehicle… to himself." No doubt this particular vehicle is wasting away in some empty space somewhere: https://www.whereisroadster.com/

    • Conundrum Conundrum on Mar 10, 2020

      Yeah, it's clogging up the space-time continuum of dark matter. Pretty much like his hundreds of Starlink satellites are ruining earth-based astronomy with reflections which he denies because, well he painted the last lot black. Good thinking, there, Elon. Old Musker - only things he dreams up are any good, like the super-fantastic beyond human ken Autopilot. Everyone else's ideas aren't worth the time of day, he's the world's only true genius. So, how's The Boring Company getting on? The cars are fine, it's the rest of this idiot's prating I can't stand.

  • Ravenuer The Long Island Expressway.
  • Kwik_Shift A nice stretch of fairly remote road that would be great for test driving a car's potential, rally style, is Flinton Road off of Highway 41 in Ontario. Twists/turns/dips/rises. Just hope a deer doesn't jump out at you. Also Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Great scenery with lots of hills.
  • Saeed Hello, I need a series of other accessories from Lincoln. Do you have front window, front and rear lights, etc. from the 1972 and 1976 models
  • Probert Wow - so many digital renders - Ford, Stellantis. - whose next!!! They're really bringing it on....
  • Zerocred So many great drives:Dalton Hwy from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle.Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham WA to Skagway AK. it was a multi-day ferry ride so I didn’t actually drive it, but I did take my truck.Icefields Parkway from Jasper AB to Lake Louise AB, CA.I-70 and Hwy 50 from Denver to Sacramento.Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierras.