Tesla taking on big oil

Tesla is a Silicon Valley company making cars. Companies in Silicon Valley have always been disruptive - changing behavior of people using technological innovations. We usually see companies making computers, software, processors, phone, etc. Tesla is focusing on transportation. Tesla is making desirable electric cars for the masses. Most cars on roads today are powered by gas, which is processed from crude oil. The world is dependent on cars for transit and hence on oil to keep people moving and countries progressing. Tesla is going to eliminate dependence on oil with move to electricity as fuel.

When cars (horseless carriages) were first invented, people experimented with different sources of fuel like oil and electricity. Due to lack of advancements in battery technology, oil was the chosen fuel. Oil has also evolved (whale oil to leaded petroleum to unleaded petroleum to unleaded + ethanol mixture) but the oil cartel has made sure that they stay the source of fuel. The OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) had cut oil supplies in the 1970s leading to shortage of fuel and unemployment, which led to recession in many countries like the US. This caused the US to become more active internationally and open military bases in other countries (mostly oil producing countries), so the US keeps getting oil and the crises of the 1970s never repeats. The US consumes 18 million barrels of oil every day and only about 8 million barrels is domestic (so most of it comes from OPEC). While the US focused on opening military bases overseas to ensure oil supply, Brazil took a different route. They pushed for FLEX vehicles (Flexible fuel) that worked on petroleum, ethanol or a mixture of them. Consumers could choose if they wanted to fill their cars with petroleum or E85 (a popular ethanol + oil blend). E85 costs about $2.10/gallon in California right now compared to $3.10/gallon for unleaded gas. Hence its over 30% more economical to choose E85. The mixture does reduce the number of miles your car travels for every gallon, but its much more cheaper and burns cleaner compared to oil (a.k.a. better for the earth).

Despite the advantages of FLEX and its success in Brazil, the US did not see this. The reason was oil cartels spending millions of dollars in campaign contributions and blocking legislation. They also own most gas stations (and control independently owned gas stations) which allows them to only sell gas and prevent ethanol from being sold. So the oil cartel successfully blocked a more clean (and cheaper) fuel from being accessible. While countries like Brazil enjoy choice between kinds of gas that go in their FLEX vehicles, the US is stuck with oil and spending billions in military bases overseas to ensure oil interests. But all of this is about to change with Tesla’s innovation in long range electrical vehicles.

Tesla’s Model 3 has about 400,000 pre-orders and over 1 year wait for new orders. The $35,000 car will provide freedom to the people (freedom from the shackles of the oil cartel) and reduce the cost of fuel by over 60% while keeping the environment clean. Since battery technology can now allow 200 miles of range, its more practical to use electricity as the fuel source. Many car makes have made affordable electric cars now and government is providing incentives to buyers. Tesla has proven that they are desirable too (with their pre-order numbers) and this finally means that we can break free from the control of big oil. Silicon Valley is known for disruptive innovation, and Tesla has extended that to transportation and taking on big oil.

In the next few decades, we should see the number of electric cars growing and gas powered cars reducing. This will finally end the century long grip of the oil cartel.