Innovating & Disrupting an Industry

Companies come and go every day. Very few companies last and do exceptionally well.  Of those companies many fight the battle of disruption and innovation.  What is the difference between the two? 

Disruptors are innovators but not all innovators are disruptors! Innovators find a problem and create an amazing solution and stop there.  A disrupter displaces existing markets, industries and technologies. A disrupter creates something worthwhile, new, and efficient.

Are you still with me? 

Now let’s apply what I have defined and size it up against Tesla.

Tesla is the ultimate definition of innovation.  They are creating outstanding products that are better and far exceed their competitors. You may wonder, are traditional car manufacturers going away anytime soon? Absolutely not. And for this reason, this is why I wouldn’t say Tesla is disrupting the industry with their vehicles.  However, they are creating a car that is extremely innovative and best in class. Remember what I stated about disruptors: displacing existing markets.  Now many Tesla enthusiasts would argue this point and say they are displacing gas cars. This may be the truth in a couple of years, but at this time they are not displacing car manufacturers and thus the product is not disruptive.

Elon has verbally stated they openly welcome competition and has made their technology available allowing companies to copy and create better vehicles in the electric space.  This goes back to Tesla’s Mission Statement: to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. Tesla may not be able to do this alone. However if they can encourage other manufacturers to create similar products then they are in line with their mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. 

Because of this the products Tesla is creating are innovative.  However the experience they are delivering is disruptive. Tesla has figured out how to remove the pain and angst in buying a vehicle in a new, more efficient and worthwhile form.  

I have bought 3 cars prior to my Tesla and I remember each experience being absolutely horrible.  From the dreadful, soul crushing (as Elon would say) experience of walking onto the lot of a dealer to the high pressure sales tactics to negotiations, the up-sell, the post sale communication and lastly the service center.  Tesla is taking all of these experiences and disrupting the car buying/servicing experience across the industry by doing things different then how its been done for years.  

Buying a Tesla is an easy experience online, just like buying an item on Amazon.  There is no negotiation and the prices are all set. There isn’t a dealership.  You can buy a vehicle while sipping your morning coffee and walking the dog. Now don't get me wrong there are “showrooms” but that is exactly what they are; a room to show you the car so that you can physically see and touch it.

Then there is the delivery experience.  Can you remember the delivery experience of your gas car? Did a current vehicle owner volunteer their time to show up to help you walk you through your car? Negative. Tesla owners across the globe are graciously taking time out of their day to help other owners understand and learn their car.  Not because of any incentives but because they believe in the mission of Tesla and are excited to educate others about the vehicles and create the best delivery experience. Now when I owned my VW we had forums and their were fans. But the Tesla owners are more loyal than fans. Some may call it a cult following but I like to refer to them as a team of in field advocates.  

Think about the last time you made a service appointment for your non-Tesla car.  What are your concerns? Inconvenience is the biggest factor many are affected with when car service is involved.  I wanted to highlight what Tesla is doing differently then any other manufacturer today. Tesla has deployed a fleet of mobile rangers that will come to your residence or place of business to fix or service a majority of issues with your vehicle.  Not only taking the stress out of scheduling but also the stress out of inconvenience by providing loaners to any fleet owner. That is correct; while your car is in service Tesla has partnered with Enterprise to offer Teslas or other non EV vehicles as loaners while your car is being worked on.  Hence the stress and inconvenience that’s associated with servicing any other car is gone when you own a Tesla.  

These examples with Tesla vehicle buying and servicing is where Tesla is being disruptive by being new, more efficient and worthwhile. Today no other manufacturer is able to offer the same experience.  And while Tesla dominates in innovation with their vehicles and disruption with their buying/servicing experiences they are still able to retaining the tops in owner satisfaction in the auto industry.  Owners have a lot to be happy about.  

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