In physics, a flywheel is a rotating disk that stores kinetic energy in its momentum and then spins that energy out to a nearby engine. In the context of business, as the flywheel rotates, it increases output or revenue without increasing input or cost.
Tesla, best known for being an all-electric car company, is, well, much more than just a car company. It has disrupted a legacy industry with a new business model and consumer approach. But Tesla didn’t stop there. It expanded to new industries, grabbed a stake in key infrastructure sectors, worked to decentralize power distribution, and now offers a new alternative to today’s utility industry. Tesla’s end products are state-of-the-technological-art — all of which interconnect in a flywheel that incites consumer allegiance across multiple sectors and keeps those consumers coming back to Tesla for more — in a flywheel effect, essentially.
Tesla’s mission statement is: “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” Today, Tesla builds not only all-electric vehicles, but also scalable clean energy generation and storage products, all part of a business model that prods the world to stop relying on fossil fuels and move towards a zero-emission future.
The intersecting notions of a flywheel in this article were inspired by Post Corona — From Crisis to Opportunity, by Scott Galloway (2020). The book draws upon the metaphor to suggest that, when today’s consumers are introduced to one product within a brand, they are more likely to purchase other products within that same brand. Companies today, Galloway explains, should be focusing on the reciprocal nature of consumerism so that the lure of one product leads consumers to other, different products made by the same company.
In the book, the author, an NYU Stern School of Business professor, unpacks how “tech” used to be a “narrowly defined industry consisting of companies that made computer hardware and software, which companies in ‘other’ industries bought for their business.” No longer is tech so specifically grounded. As an example, Galloway explains that combined tech/auto company Tesla appeals “through every aspect of its strategy: pricing, production, marketing, and even its leadership.”
In a February regulatory filing, Tesla acknowledged CEO Elon Musk’s numerous commitments. “Although Mr. Musk spends significant time with Tesla and is highly active in our management, he does not devote his full time and attention to Tesla,” the filing indicated. It described Musk’s leadership in SpaceX and “other emerging technology ventures.” Musk’s influence extends beyond Tesla to a company that merges the human brain with computers, Neuralink, along with a tunnel-building firm, The Boring Company.
In essence, the Tesla flywheel concept suggests that a person who purchases a Tesla Model 3 is more likely to add range at a Tesla Supercharger and eat at a Tesla restaurant. Later, when growing into other renewable energy options, that same consumer is more likely to choose Tesla Solar and Powerwalls over a competitor’s offerings. And who knows what else?
The Tesla flywheel concept makes the company very appealing to some investors. In fact, Canaccord Genuity estimates that Tesla will reach $8 billion in revenue by 2025.
Tesla Energy Storage alongside Use
The Tesla company website acknowledges that “electric cars, batteries, and renewable energy generation and storage already exist independently, but when combined, they become even more powerful.” That confluence is the essence of the Tesla flywheel.
EVs and other renewable energy sources rely on batteries, and Tesla has refused to relinquish its full autonomy as it grows into different products and sectors. As elsewhere, Tesla is planning for its own battery production in China and has been advertising for technicians for its Shanghai facility in recent months, part of better per unit profitability in the region.
The Tesla Energy division provides stationary storage batteries for residential (Powerwall), commercial (Powerpack), and utility-scale (Megapack) applications. Musk has noted on several occasions that Tesla Energy could someday become bigger than Tesla’s automobile business.
Storage is not just about enabling renewable energy — it’s also an important tool for ensuring the reliability of the grid, smoothing out peaks in demand for power, and preventing sudden surges that can overload local distribution systems.
Tesla’s Core Electric Vehicle Catalog
New regulations on safety and vehicle emissions, technological advances, and shifting customer expectations are bringing electric vehicles (EVs) into the consumer transportation mainstream. The Tesla flywheel is evident within its EV business model, which is based on 3 levels of consumer service: selling, servicing, and charging its electric vehicles, which maintains control over sales and service.
The Washington Post says that Musk’s “impulsive leadership” has vaulted Tesla from its initial entry “as an upstart electric vehicle pioneer to the world’s most valuable automaker.” Fortune named him its 2020 Businessperson of the Year.
An international network of Tesla-owned showrooms and galleries, mostly in urban centers, is based on direct sales and service, not franchised dealerships. The showrooms are complemented by internet sales as well as Service Plus centers. In some areas, Tesla mobile technicians make house calls, and service can even occasionally be delivered remotely — without ever physically touching the car.
Tesla has created its own network of “supercharger stations” where drivers can charge their Tesla vehicles in about 30 minutes using a proprietary network. The highly anticipated “Full Self-Driving” suite will be another way of allowing longer and safer road trips.
Future additions to the Tesla catalog include the Cybertruck, an all-electric pickup truck with angular proportions and stainless steel exoskeleton, and a Semi, which will invigorate long-haul trucking with more benefits for drivers and transit companies.
The Tesla Gigafactory Flywheel Phenomenon
Tesla’s has 4 “gigafactories” (‘giga’ stems from gigawatt-hour, or GWh, here):
- Giga Nevada — in Sparks, near Reno, Nevada;
- the Solar City Gigafactory at Buffalo, New York (Giga Buffalo? Gigafactory 2?);
- Giga Shanghai — the 2019 Tesla plant in Shanghai, China; and,
- Giga Berlin — the new European Tesla gigafactory, which is being constructed in Grünheide, near Berlin, Germany.
Three main gigafactory features are part of the Tesla flywheel phenomenon.
- Separate from their scale, Tesla’s organization of production reverses much current conventional wisdom regarding production geography. For example, Tesla’s automotive facility in Fremont, California, reconcentrates manufacturing onsite as in-house brand componentry, especially heavy parts, or by requiring distant global suppliers to relocate in proximity to the main manufacturing plant.
- As an electric vehicle producer, Tesla’s production and logistics infrastructures are important in meeting greenhouse gas mitigation and the reduction of global warming.
- Tesla’s deployment of Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive management are important. Gigafactory logistics contribute to production and distribution efficiency. Company effectiveness is a primer for all future industry and services as they seek to minimize time-management issues. Methods of reduction of wasteful energy usage become evident through dataset analysis.
Tesla’s global reach is extending to Europe and Asia. Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Limited was incorporated on January 8, 2021. Registered in Bangalore — the country’s technology hub — the company would start with sales and then potentially move on to assembly and manufacturing, Nitin Gadkari, India’s transport minister, said. Also see:
The Long Reach of Tesla’s Flywheel
Tesla solar customers from now on will buy power systems that feed exclusively to Powerwalls. Powerwalls will interface only between the customer’s utility meter and house main breaker panel, enabling a relatively simple install and seamless whole house backup during utility dropouts, according to Musk.
Updates reflect customer feedback — many people thought their battery-less solar system would work in a blackout, only to be disappointed when it didn’t. Moreover, Tesla consumers seemed eager to gain protection against blackouts, so streamlining the offerings into paired technologies made sense — and deepened the Tesla flywheel effect.
CleanTechnica’s Zachary Shahan has outlined the extensive list of internal “Tesla companies” and their immediate competitors. If there was any doubt about Tesla’s flywheel effect, look no farther than these intersections of products and consumer loyalty to understand Tesla’s ongoing and seemingly impossible accomplishments.
- Tesla Cars vs. BMW & Audi & Toyota & Honda — car manufacturing
- Tesla Network vs. Lyft & Uber — mobility services
- Tesla Supercharging vs. Electrify America & EVgo & Ionity & Fastned — fast charging
- Tesla Charging vs. ChargePoint & EVBox & many others — home/destination chargers
- Tesla Autopilot vs. Mobileye/Intel & Waymo & Cruise/GM & Nvidia — self-driving/driver-assist tech
- Tesla Solar vs. Sunrun & Vivint Solar — solar panel installation
- Tesla Solar Tech vs. SunPower & Trina Solar — rooftop solar generation tech
- Tesla Energy Storage vs. AES & SimpliPhi & sonnen — stationary energy storage
- Tesla Grid Services vs. Utilities around the world & Stem — grid services
- Tesla Insurance vs. Allstate & Geico & State Farm — insurance
- Tesla Stores vs. Auto dealerships — auto sales & service
- Tesla Trucks vs. Freightliner/Daimler & MAN Truck and Bus & Scania & Iveco — semi trucks
- Tesla Infotainment vs. Apple & Google — in-car infotainment
- Tesla Computers vs. Nvidia & Intel — computer chips, systems on a chip, supercomputers
- Tesla Batteries vs. LG Chem & CATL & Panasonic — battery cells
- Tesla Seats vs. Faurecia & Johnson Controls & Lear Corporation & TS Tech & Toyota Boshoku — automotive seats
- Tesla Robots vs. Kuka & ABB & Yaskawa Electric Corporation — industrial robots for manufacturing
Teledriving mobility service Vay to remotely deliver EVs in Vegas as it expands to US
Europe’s first teledriving (remotely driving) service is entering the US market and intends to setup shop in Sin City to begin. Vay is establishing its new US headquarters in downtown Las Vegas, where it will begin testing its teledriving service by dropping off and picking up rental EVs to customers around the city.
Vay is a German teledriving specialist based in Berlin that has taken a remote-first approach to driverless vehicles in which an operator drives a given EV from a dedicated hub. Vay is aiming to gradually introduce more autonomous driving functions in its system as they become more safe and are permitted to do so.
For now, however, the service relies on teledrivers, whose immediate focus is on the driverless transportation of rental EVs to customers. Those customers can then hop in the EV, drive off and then park whenever they are done, enabling Vay to step back in and remotely drive the vehicle back to base.
After operating a vehicle in Hamburg this past February, Vay declared itself the first and only company to drive a car on European public roads with no one inside. We’ve personally experienced this same approach to rideshare mobility in Las Vegas when we went for a ride with Halo.Car.
With its sights now set on the US, Vay will have to compete with Halo.Car in Vegas – the home of its new headquarters.
Vay to compete in growing driverless EV market in Vegas
Following its plans for expanded certification to operate driverless vehicles in Europe, Vay shared details of its expansion to the US, beginning in Las Vegas. The US entity will be lead by general manager Caleb Varner, who joined Vay in late 2022 after leaving Uber where he was director, global general manager, and co-founder of Uber Rent & Valet. Varner spoke:
I am excited to be a part of Vay and launch our service in the US. Vay’s teledriving technology and innovative approach has the potential to reshape the way people move – not only is that a huge business opportunity, but also a service that we see missing from today’s transportation ecosystem. The broader team at Vay is excited about taking this german-born technology and using it to change the way Americans move and building a future with reduced personal car ownership.
To begin, Varner will work closely with Vay cofounder and CEO Thomas von der Ohe to implement Vay’s teledriving technology in the US market that supports the launch of its own remotely driven mobility service. Von der Ohe also spoke to Vay’s new home in Vegas as a kickoff in the US:
We are excited to enter the US mobility market. Our team is talking to stakeholders in various states and has started to work on launching an initial service. The market is ready and the responses we have received so far from regulators, city governments, and potential customers in the US show that it’s a very dynamic market that we will be exploring in the near future!
Like Europe, the approach will begin with remote deliveries of rental EVs around Vegas, but certain permits and certifications are required. Luckily, Vay has the support of Las Vegas’ International Innovation Center, located in the downtown Arts District. Vay’s new headquarters sits within this office which remains part of an investment in economic development in the city.
I guess I will have to go to Vegas and take a test ride in one of Vay’s driverless cars. Twist my arm!
Here’s where Toyota’s first US-made EV, an electric 3-row SUV, will be built
Toyota’s largest plant globally is going electric. The company revealed Wednesday it would assemble its new three-row electric SUV at its Georgetown, Kentucky, facility starting in 2025. The new SUV will be Toyota’s first US-assembled EV as the market continues to surpass expectations.
Toyota’s first US-assembled EV will be in Kentucky
“Toyota Kentucky set the standard for Toyota vehicle manufacturing in the US and now we’re leading the charge with BEVs,” Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, explained.
The Toyota Kentucky plant is the company’s largest manufacturing facility globally, with the capability to produce 550,000 vehicles annually, and will now lead Toyota’s vehicle carbon reduction efforts in the US.
Toyota says the batteries for its three-row electric SUV will come from the company’s new battery factory in North Carolina. The plant was initially revealed in late 2021. Today’s announcement from Toyota reveals the plant will receive an additional $2.1 billion investment, bringing the total to nearly $6 billion.
Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Battery Manufacturing at the North Carolina facility, commented on the new funding, saying:
With this proactive infrastructure investment, we will be able to quickly support future expansion opportunities to meet growing customer need.
The NC plant will produce lithium-ion batteries with six production lines (four for hybrids and only two for EVs).
The Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, said through a $591 million investment for future projects in Scott County, Toyota is committed to retaining 700 full-time jobs.
Although Toyota didn’t reveal any new details of its first US-assembled EV coming in 2025, we know it will be a three-row electric SUV as part of ten new electric cars planned to launch globally.
Toyota aims to sell 1.5 million EVs globally with the new models by 2026 as it looks to keep pace in the rapidly expanding electric car market.
Apart from the company’s first global EV, the bZ4X, Toyota has released an electric sedan, the bZ3, in China and teased upcoming models, including a sport crossover and family SUV.
Since passing last August, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has attracted well over $100 billion in private-sector investment in EVs, batteries, and manufacturing. Toyota is one of many automakers and suppliers that have revealed plans to build on US soil.
That being said, with its first US-assembled EV arriving in 2025, will it still be too little too late for the automaker?
Either way, Toyota is doing what it should have done years ago. It’s building its EV supply chain capabilities with battery factories while retooling manufacturing facilities. In addition, Toyota is developing a dedicated EV platform that will help streamline production and double the range of future electric models with more efficient batteries, according to the company.
With the latest slew of announcements from Toyota, the company is noticeably accelerating the pace of EV development. Perhaps, after watching EV makers like Tesla and BYD steal market share, Toyota is looking toward the future rather than the past.
Former footballer Drogba is E1’s newest team owner ahead of first electric boat racing season
The UIM E1 World Championship electric boat racing league has found its latest team as it prepares to launch its inaugural season later this year. Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast footballer Didier Drogba and his partner Gabrielle LeMaire have signed on as owners of the fourth E1 racing team to join the growing league.
The UIM E1 World Championship is a nascent electric boat racing league created by Formula E and Extreme E founder, Alejandro Agag, and Rodi Basso – a former director of Motorsport at McLaren with a background in Formula 1 engineering.
We’ve been following the new sport’s progress for over a year as it has evolved from testing its all-electric RaceBird boats, to a growing league of teams led by some familiar names. Venice emerged as the inaugural E1 race team in April of 2022, and was soon followed by team Mexico owned by Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez.
Early this year, we shared news that tennis great Rafael Nadal had signed on as E1’s next team owner, bringing his native Spain into the fold to compete on the water. As the young championship series continues to develop (and tries) to fill all ten of its initial team slots this year, it has found its latest team owner in soccer (or football) legend Didier Drogba.
Team Drogba joins E1 donning the Ivory Coast flag
E1 announced the addition of Team Drogba to the UIM Championship this morning, which will be co-owned and managed with the footballer’s partner, Gabrielle LeMaire – a successful businesswoman and marketing expert. E1 cofounder and CEO Rodi Basso spoke about what the new Team Drogba owners bring to the league:
This team is so exciting for the E1 Series, blending diversity, inclusion and sustainability with a fire to compete and win. They are a dynamic duo that show how important it is to have equal representation and opportunities for men and women in motorsport, from the boardroom to the cockpit. And their commitment to ocean health and technological change will help take E1’s message further and wider. It’s exciting to see the fleet take shape and there’s more big announcements in the pipeline.
Similar to his new rival “Rafa” Nadal, Drogba’s foundation supports sustainable developments outside of the competitive arenas to make a positive impact on the planet. The former footballer and his partner also help provide a positive impact on the lives of African children living in poverty.
Together, the new E1 owners hope Team Drogba can help the new E1 series reach a global audience and inspire it to join the race to create a more sustainable world. Drogba spoke to the ownership opportunity and the people that have inspired him:
Sport and sustainability together, it’s a winning combination. Gabrielle and I are both fierce competitors so we’re going to build a strong team. We’re inspired by legends such as Senna and Schumacher, but most especially by Lewis Hamilton, winning F1 championships, breaking barriers and acting as a leader for a new generation of pilots.
Pollution has caused the destruction and loss of coastal habitats around the world. The degradation of our underwater eco-systems poses a series threat to marine life and livelihoods of coastal communities. So we want to have a positive impact through the accelerated development of clean technologies and inspiring change. But we’re also going to have fun for a great cause. Rafa and Checo, get ready! We are coming for you. And we’re here to win!
The inaugural UIM E1 World Championship is scheduled to begin later this year as race
organizers state they will continue to accelerate preparations, promising more teams and confirmed race venues soon. Better hurry.
This is another big get by E1 as it looks to bring as much hype to season 1 as possible… whenever that may be. The original schedule was originally anticipated to begin this past spring, but we still seem to be a ways away as E1 is now saying “late 2023” for a championship series kickoff.
The nascent series now has four teams, but has always hoped to begin racing with at least ten, so it’s going to have to hustle to find more owners quickly to get a viable competition together.
Although I do want to see E1 racing begin sooner rather than later, I don’t mind waiting because I’m genuinely unsure what I’m waiting for, meaning I’m not even sure what to expect in electric boat racing. The prospect of it looks promising, and the adjacent focus on foundations and the environment is a big plus – similar to Formula E. People love a brand with a positive cause.
I’m looking forward to seeing what countries/teams/owners join in next and how well season one goes. I’d very much like to see a competition in person, but E1 has to get there first. I’ll be watching!
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