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Tesla Motors: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool, and Sparked the Next Tech Revolution [Kindle Edition]

Charles Morris
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $8.99

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Book Description

In its eleven years of existence, Tesla Motors has achieved many amazing feats. The most trusted sources in the auto industry have called its Model S the most advanced, safest and best-performing car ever built - and it doesn’t use a drop of gasoline. Tesla has changed the way the public perceives electric vehicles, and inspired the major automakers to revive their own dormant efforts to sell EVs.

However, even amidst the avalanche of media coverage that followed the triumph of the Model S, few have grasped the true significance of what is happening. Tesla has redefined the automobile, sparked a new wave of innovation comparable to the internet and mobile computing revolutions, and unleashed forces that will transform not just the auto industry, but every aspect of society.

The Tesla story is just one part of an ongoing tide of change driven by the use of information technology to eliminate “friction” such as geographic distance, middlemen and outdated regulations. Tesla is simply applying the new business order to the auto industry, but the automobile is such a pervasive influence in our lives that redefining how it is designed, built, driven and sold will have sweeping effects in unexpected areas.

Just as Tesla built the Model S as an electric vehicle “from the ground up,” it has taken an outsider’s approach to the way it markets its cars. Its direct sales model has drawn legal challenges from the entrenched auto dealers, who fear that their outdated business model will be destroyed. Its systems approach to the software and electronics in its cars has highlighted how far behind the technological times the major automakers really are.

It’s easy to see why readers find Tesla irresistible. CEO Elon Musk is a superstar entrepreneur, a “nauseatingly pro-US” immigrant and the leader of two other cutting-edge companies. Tesla dares to challenge the biggest of the establishment behemoths and, so far at least, has handily beaten them at their own game.

In this history of the 21st century’s most exciting startup, Charles Morris begins with a brief history of electric vehicles and a biography of Tesla’s driving force, Elon Musk. He then details the history of the company, told in the words of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who made it happen.

There are many fascinating stories here: Martin Eberhard’s realization that there were many like himself, who loved fast cars but wanted to help the environment and bring about the post-oil age; the freewheeling first days, reminiscent of the early internet era; the incredible ingenuity of the team who built the Roadster; Tesla’s near-death experience and miraculous resurrection; the spiteful split between the company’s larger-than-life leaders; the gloves-off battles with hostile media such as Top Gear and the New York Times; and the media’s ironic about-face when the magnificent Model S won the industry’s highest honors, and naysayers became cheerleaders overnight. And the story is just beginning: Tesla has breathtakingly ambitious plans for the future.

Author Charles Morris was a participant and chronicler as the internet revolution unfolded in the 1990s, and he draws on that broad experience as he discusses Tesla’s lasting influence, and where it fits into the technological revolution that is transforming society.

Charles conducted personal interviews with two of Tesla’s founders, Marc Tarpenning and Ian Wright, and two members of the AC Propulsion team who were instrumental in the development of the Roadster, Tom Gage and Paul Carosa. He also cites over 300 secondary sources, with links to a wealth of further reading.

As Senior Editor of Charged, the magazine of the electric vehicle industry, Charles Morris is one of the world’s most respected authorities on electromobility. His daily blog posts, which cover every facet of the EV scene, including the technical, business, marketing, political and social aspects, number over 1,500, including over 350 on Tesla.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really liked this book, great insight, well reasearched September 18, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have to admit that I'm a big fan of Tesla and Elon Musk. I thought I already knew everything there was to know about Tesla. I picked up this book while on holidays as some kind of, as I thought, lite reading.
I was really surprised by the detail and the depth of research that the author has put in while writing this book. I particularly enjoyed some of the technical descriptions of the physics behind the batteries. Surely these won't qualify you to take over the CTO job at Tesla but give you a better understanding of how Tesla and other EV's work.
The only problem that I would see with this kind of book is that the Tesla story is pretty much still being written in front of our eyes so the book might be 'old news' in a relatively short time - unless the author makes the effort to periodically update it with the latest and greatest from the California boys.
A highly recommended read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This book has been a real pleasure to read, from the first chapters recalling the early EVs (from the times of horse carriages) to the latest struggles of Tesla around dealership issues in the US. I had been curious for a while about the other persons participating in the Tesla adventure beyond Elon Musk, the book brought me facts and stories around them. It relates the glorious and less glorious moments, with a wealth of quotes and sources for those who want to dig deeper. The only frustrating thing about the book is the fact that it ends while the story is still going on full speed in real life... After finishing the book, I just have to continue following the journey through Twitter & co...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Even though I'm completely immersed in the EV industry, I learned a lot about Tesla from reading this book. It is very comprehensive. All of the direct quotes from the company's leaders give a fascinating insight into their decision making process.

I'm often annoyed when I read news outlets falsely compare Tesla to other "tech" companies. This book does an excellent job at highlighting what makes Tesla so unique. It's an incredible success story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanguard of the Future December 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Elon Musk is a forward looking genius. He has focused on the future of the Internet, the future of Space Flight, and the future of clean energy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A well-balanced and interesting book January 14, 2015
Format:Kindle Edition
I'll admit that I am and have been what Charles Morris calls a "teslophile," but this book impressed me greatly. It gives not only tesla's history, but also an overview of the history of cars in general, EVs in general, Of Elon Musk, and of course gives more details of tesla's history than you would have thought exist. He maintains an even keel throughout the entire book, even when mentioning how the New Jersey government decided to essentially ban Tesla from the state; Morris merely calmly states, in eloquent terms, why this makes the New Jersey gov't so short-sighted. The book goes into detail about the development of the roadster, model s, and model x, and honestly offers a true history of the most innovative company of the last decade.
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If you own or are contemplating purchasing a Tesla, this book is a must read. These remarkable cars are the result of the vision, passion, and brilliance of the company's founders along with the unrelenting, Jobsian drive of Elon Musk. And not a small amount of luck. The book is a thorough history of how it all came together. Along the way are delightful tidbits (the audio system's maximum volume is 11) as well as a look at Space X and the Hyper Loop. Reading this book will make you enjoy driving your Roadster or Model S or Model X (soon) that much more.
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The author obviously knows the tech as well as automotive industries. His experience in the internet boom/bust gives him a very clear understanding some of the pressures of big-time start-ups. The book is very readable with frequent wise cracks and smart remarks. Right on! What else has this writer written for me to enjoy?
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More About the Author

I'm a writer, editor, musician and traveler. I have published five books and over 200 articles on tech and travel topics. I'm the Senior Editor of Charged, the magazine of electric vehicles, for which I write a daily blog and regular print articles.

We are in the beginning stages of a technological upheaval centered around information technology, clean energy and electrified transportation. This transition, comparable to the Industrial Revolution of two centuries ago, will lead to changes in every aspect of human society. It's an exciting time to be writing about the tech and business world.

The standard-bearer of the electromobility revolution, and the most exciting company of the 21st century, is Tesla Motors. That's why I decided to write my new book, a history of Tesla, with an assessment of how it fits into the big picture, and what its long-term impact will be.


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