Whereas cars take huge amounts of time and money to develop, Musk’s brash re-imaginations of the car industry cost little to produce and generate the same fevered public acclaim as the sleek, pricey Model S.
In effect, Musk has monetized the public perception that change in the car business is long overdue.
Tesla may not enjoy even 1 percent of market share, but its “mind share” exceeds that of the biggest players, and Musk is by far America’s best-known car executive. (General Motors’ Mary Barra has high name recognition, though not for the right reasons). While Tesla’s hype-to-sales ratio is cause for some investor concern, it’s success holds valuable lessons for a car industry that has a long record of taking its eye off the ball.