Back in 2003, or maybe it was 2005 …. I was invited by DaimlerChrysler — then the merged entity of Chrysler and Mercedes Benz, a merger which would eventually fail — to participate in a strategic planning session that would look at the future of the auto industry.
And so I travelled to Mercedes HQ in Stuttgart, Germany for a two day session. I came away with the feeling that this was an industry that just didn’t “get it.” I still don’t think they do.
The goal of the meeting was to define what the industry would look like in 2013 … 10 years on. I was the outsider, the futurist, with the job of challenging their notions as to how the future might unfold. It was a small, intimate meeting — 20 very serious auto engineers and marketing types, and me.
At that meeting, I predicted, with some uncanny accuracy, today’s Tesla Model 3 announcement.
At that meeting, I suggested that Google might become a car company. Of course, at the time, these auto engineers laughed at me. What a foolish futurist! The thing is — I had my story right in 2003. I just thought it would be Google, and never thought it would be a new company like Tesla.
Think about what is unfolding today: Google, Tesla, Apple — what’s the difference? — my point back in 2003 was that in the future, Silicon Valley would come to define the pace of innovation, structure, manufacturing, and indeed, the concept of how to bring a car to market.
If you watch a few videos — here’s an event in 2006 for an audience of 3,000 engineers in Florida, in which I spoke about my 2003 experience:
Here is a longer clip, in which I predict the structure of the auto industry that is unfolding before us today:
What is today all about? It’s another sign that the auto industry as we know it is dead. Gone. In the dustbin of history. Everything is changing at a furious pace.
In 2003, I nailed the idea that people would buy a car a year in advance as a beta! So far today, it looks like we have 150,000 orders worldwide as an estimate. People lined up for a car that they are willing to buy only based on a promise of being at the leading edge. A company that has a business model that involves “building to customer demand” as opposed to “building to inventory.” Massive transformation of an industry bound up in 120 years of tradition (give or take a few years…..). And a tweet from @elonmusk that suggests they haven’t nailed the design of the car yet, but will make it up as they go. In other words — it’s a beta!
Every industry is faced with similar transformation and challenge. The future belongs to those who are fast, who are prepared to think big and bold, and are ready to challenge existing norms.
Insurance, banking, finance, travel, healthcare. Folks, what’s your GoogleCar? Do you not get that we live in transformative times, in which the foundation of every industry is being subjected to massive change? Who is redefining your industry? Are you prepared to get aggressively involved, or will you just watch it happen? Are you going to be Tesla’d by someone who is redefining your industry today, yet you laugh at the concept?
I welcome today’s announcement! It’s about time that #tesla and #model3 catch up with what I predicated some 13 years ago.
But if you watch the second video — I only have one question: @elonmusk, will it ship with the “Tesla Car Party in a Box?”