I pulled into the parking garage of the Westfield Montgomery mall at around 5:00 am.
In the distance, I could see that a handful of people had beat me to the punch.
Huddled up under blankets and bottled-up enthusiasm sat ten Tesla geeks just like me.
I strolled up and asked, “Is this the line to pre-order the new Hummer?”
Laughter broke out, and within minutes I knew I was with my people.
Around 6:00 am, we slinked into the mall knowing full well that we weren’t allowed in yet. I felt like I was in grade school again, keeping a look out for easily-excitable hall monitors and whistling assistant principles in search of escapees.
And of course, it didn’t take long before mall security found us and gave us a stern warning before escorting us back to the front of the mall. Fortunately, they let us stay in the building so we didn’t have to slum it outside any longer.
Truth is, I don’t think they were expecting us. At least not that early and not the overzealous. But they were good sports.
Over the course of the next few hours, we talked about Tesla, Elon Musk, internal combustion (and how boring it is), and the fact that many of us were there not just to pre-order the Model 3, but to be a part of history.
Cracks in the Dam
Although Tesla isn’t the only car company building an affordable electric car now, it is the company that forced change upon an industry that was drowning in its own complacency and mediocrity.
When Elon Musk first came on the scene, he was ridiculed, mocked, and bullied by the auto industry and conservative media blowhards who still believe giving a crap about the environment is a socialist plot designed to destroy the United States and rape your dogs.
But Musk persevered, and in less than ten years built a company that pumped out one of the most spectacular cars ever created – the Model S.
While stones were being thrown in his direction, Musk and the team at Tesla completely changed the idea of what an electric car could be. The days of glorified golf carts were over, and a new generation of drivers decided, after seeing the Roadster and Model S, that internal combustion was kind of boring.
Now I’m not saying that once the Model 3 hits the streets that internal combustion vehicles will be headed to the graveyard. In fact, it’ll be years before electric cars make a significant dent in market share. But there is one thing for certain …
Early this morning, the world got to see the first cracks in the dam.
Today, Everything Changes
This morning, I put down $1,000 to reserve a technologically-superior electric car that will likely deliver in excess of 200 miles on a single charge.
Before the federal and state tax credits, it’ll cost me $35,000.
After those tax credits, I’ll be looking at something closer to $25,000.
And for anyone who wants to start complaining about “taxpayers footing the bill,” you don’t get to make that argument unless you also complain about taxpayers footing the bill for a transportation infrastructure designed to support internal combustion.
From securing oil interests overseas to the billions in indirect subsidies that have helped prop up the oil and gas industry for decades, in the U.S., no form of transportation fuel, infrastructure development or electricity generation exists without handouts.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t favor any kind of handout or government support – for anything. But free markets don’t exist when it comes to energy and transportation. They never have. And quite frankly, I would argue that if the oil industry and auto industry hadn’t been getting special treatment since the first Model T rolled off the line, we’d probably all be driving electric cars today as the technology is far superior than anything we’ve seen in the world of internal combustion.
But I don’t make the rules, I just criticize them. And in the case of the federal and state tax credits for my new Tesla, I just consider them payback for all the money I’ve been reluctantly been putting into the coffers for the oil and gas industry.
Bitter sarcasm aside, the point to this rant is simple …
Today is the day that everything changes.
No more excuses from the auto industry, no more empty rhetoric from dinosaur politicians, and no more chances for any industry that seeks to defy the sea change that is upon us.
Pre-ordering my Model 3 today wasn’t just about being one of the first to get this vehicle. It was about making a statement. It was about being defiant. It was about using the basic fundamentals of capitalism to instigate positive change.
Yes, it’s true that I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of my Model 3. But without a doubt, I’m much more excited about being a part of a revolution that will make the world a safer, cleaner, and happier place.
Today was a good day!