Home Technology Some very facts about Tesla’s journey from “zero to 10,000”

Some very facts about Tesla’s journey from “zero to 10,000”

facts about Tesla’s journey from “zero to 10,000”

Not surprisingly, Tesla’s electric pickup truck Cybertruck has once again been delayed. Although news of a road test of 1,700 kilometers has just been released, it is unlikely that the Cybertruck will meet mass production standards in the third quarter of this year.

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How did Tesla and Musk survive these crises time and time again?

The “Musk Biography” released not long ago details the story of how Musk “turned from investor to CEO”, borrowed money from everywhere to produce the Roadster sports car, and assembled the Model 3 with workers on the production line.

Geek Park picked out 11 “cold facts” to see how the world’s richest man led Tesla to complete the milestone of “from zero to 10,000” and changed the course of the global automobile industry.

“Assembled Tesla” on the drawings


Musk first came into contact with the “Tesla” project as an investor. At that time, electric cars were still equivalent to golf carts in most people’s minds. After seeing a prototype car, Musk said that the correct idea must be to “build a high-value car first, and then move to a mass-market model” so that the world can see how amazing electric cars are.

This was the first time that Musk made a simple judgment on the product matrix planning of electric vehicles. It happened in 2004. Later, some new power car manufacturing companies in China also chose the same idea of ​​starting from the high end.


Today, Tesla’s well-known advantage as a car company is that it can control its own destiny through vertical integration. But that’s not the story of the start-up period.

Similar to Ford’s successful experience and the globalization narrative that began in the 1980s, the initial solution for the first car, the Roadster, was highly dependent on global suppliers. In other words, at the beginning, this was a cobbled-together car: the battery came from Asia, the body came from the UK (Lotus), the transmission came from Detroit or Germany, and only the powertrain came from a car built before Tesla was founded. The company that produced the first prototype – AC Propulsion.


In the design process of the first car Roadster, Tesla mainly had to face two problems:

First, product design needs to be constantly overturned and optimized, which is basically what all early-stage startups will face. However, in the automotive industry, fine-tuning on various drawings will turn into changes in various parts and production methods in the supply chain, and the cost will therefore increase. The cost of the Roadster rose from $50,000 initially to $83,000 by the end of 2006. By July 2007, the cost of the bicycle reached US$110,000, exceeding the planned selling price of US$100,000.

Second, there is the issue of fund management. For example, Tesla must prepay various suppliers. Outsourcing saves costs, but it puts great pressure on the company’s cash flow. In addition, Tesla did not have a chief financial officer in the early days, which led to some confusion in fund management. In December 2008, after SpaceX’s fourth launch was finally successful, Musk took over personally and became Tesla’s fourth CEO that year.


It was at this time that Tesla’s first serious crisis occurred. The company faced a bankruptcy crisis at the end of 2008 and was unable to survive until Christmas, so it was in urgent need of a round of financing (again, the early stages of building a car were really difficult).

Musk secured three sums of money. The first one came from investors. At that time, all mainstream American car companies had given up on electric vehicles; the second one came from Daimler Group, with which Tesla also signed a contract to provide battery packs and powertrains for smart cars. a supply contract; third, an interest-bearing loan from the U.S. Department of Energy was obtained.

After securing these three funds, Tesla’s Model S project, its first four-wheel sedan for the mainstream market, began.

Designing factories is cooler than designing cars


When designing and transforming products, Musk likes to emphasize “first principles” (that is, do not violate basic physical common sense) and put forward all kinds of unreasonable requirements.

For example, when initially designing the Model S battery pack, the team believed that 8,400 battery cells were needed. Musk requested that the number be reduced to 7,200 cells to leave more space in the car. The most exaggerated thing is that the team finally designed a battery pack with 7,200 battery cells. In an interview in the book, Drew Baglino, the head of the battery segment at the time, believed that Musk only made the request “intuitively” at the time.


Musk wants to take control of the manufacturing process into his own hands. Designing factories and the entire industrial process is much more challenging for him than designing cars. He said: “The mental effort of designing a car is nothing compared to the mental effort of designing a factory.”

In the design of Tesla factory, Musk embodies two basic principles in the book:

First, engineers must be close to the production line. Not only can they solve the problem immediately, but by placing the engineer’s “partitioned workstation” in the assembly line and hearing the workers’ complaints, it can also put psychological pressure on the engineer.

Also, have engineers and designers working in the same space. This is also a “anti-globalization” design. In many global companies, the two teams may even collaborate online in different countries.


In 2017, Tesla’s Nevada battery factory fell into “mass production hell.” Musk requires that the factory must produce 5,000 battery packs per week, otherwise it will not even be able to cover the production cost, but the production line designer believes that it can only reach 1,800 at most.

One of the reasons for the limited production capacity is that Musk radically promoted automation in the early stage, instead of allowing workers to verify each link before promoting automation like the traditional assembly line. Musk discovered this problem at the Nevada factory and opened a hole in the side of the factory to dismantle and transport many unnecessary automation designs.

He also proposed his own “mass production methodology”: design first, then question and delete many processes, and finally promote automation.

“It’s not like breaking the laws of physics.”


Regarding the Cybertruck, an electric pickup truck that looks like it “comes from the future,” its correct design process is as follows:

Since the beginning of 2017, Musk has been working on various classic car products with von Holzhausen, one of his few close collaborators, but has not produced a truly cool concept prototype.

At this time, the “first principles” way of thinking came into play again. Musk’s thinking changed from thinking about what the shape of the car should be to what materials it should be designed from. In this way, using his accumulation in SpaceX, Musk came up with the idea of ​​”making a pickup truck out of stainless steel.”

So, to a certain extent, Cybertruck is actually a story about materials reversing shape. The book writes: “This gave the design team the opportunity—and to a certain extent, was ‘forced’—to explore more futuristic, avant-garde, and even design ideas that may not seem harmonious at first glance.”


Tesla’s integrated casting inspiration came from a “toy car model.”

At the end of 2018, while playing with a Model S toy car model, Musk discovered that the entire chassis of the “car” was die-cast into a single piece of metal. So he proposed to implement this process on the entire vehicle.

At that time, producing a chassis generally required hundreds of parts to be welded, riveted, and bonded together. There was no machine that could achieve integrated casting. Musk’s response was: “Let’s think about how to do it. Isn’t it just to build a bigger casting machine? It’s not like we have to break the laws of physics.”

Later, Tesla cooperated with Italy’s Idra Group to build the world’s largest casting machine.

Remember that toy version of Cybertruck? This is why Musk has always favored the toy industry.

From 100,000 lines of code to neural networks


There are many opinions about Tesla’s smart driving solution to remove radar in 2021. The practical reason given in the book is very simple: the lack of cores prevented Tesla from receiving enough hardware, and the radar system it developed at the time “Phoenix” ” is not effective enough, which puts the factory at risk of shutdown. Therefore, it only took Musk about 40 seconds to decide on the plan to remove the radar.

Of course, after making this decision and packaging the purely visual solution on social media, the internal development of the “Phoenix System” did not stop. Now, Musk has signed off on the decision to use the new system on the higher-priced Model S and Model Y.


Tesla’s autonomous driving solution will truly transition from rule-based to neural network-based, which will occur at the end of 2022.

The person in charge, Dhavar Shroff, was almost transferred from Tesla to Twitter by Musk. He convinced Musk and told him that the new project was a “ChatGPT for use in cars” that would run 10 times faster than previous rule-based versions and could directly delete 300,000 lines of code.

The book writes that by April 2023, Musk announced that he “completely believed” in this project based on the neural network path and mobilized a large amount of resources to advance it. At present, intelligent driving is also developing in this new technological direction.


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