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Why Tesla survived and Fisker won't (technologyreview.com)
5 points by ChuckMcM 1178 days ago | past | web | 1 comment



Ok, so the Technology Review guys are hit and miss, but I found this article pretty insightful. I've ridden in both a Fisker and a Model S and found the operational difference to be quite noticeable.

But the thing that really struck me about this article was the "design" question. And I put that in quotes because the guy that designed the Fisker initially was working for Musk and then bailed on him to do their own car. The hubris here was stunning but not atypical of what I see in start ups.

The way it works is that a category of product becomes commoditized and then focused on the design aspects. This happened to cars, engines (diesel or gas), suspensions, transmissions, all are complex but pretty well known kinds of technologies. So the people who are the 'stars' at the car company are the designers. They are the people who put people in your particular Taurus shaped car vs Ford's version. The bits underneath are just "details."

But when your really being disruptive, the "win" is how it goes together, the design has to be good but the technology has to be the focus. We saw this once before in the car market when Honda came in and revolutionized the drive train in small cars in the 80's. Originally derided as 'gas powered roller skates' by the driving public, the key was that they could run efficiently on gasoline for long periods of time with less maintenance. Doing that and keeping things light was disruptive, the design of the body around the drive train only came later.

My point is that reading this I thought, "Here is a good example where design doesn't trump disruptive engineering." and it's important to keep those examples in mind when deciding how much to invest.




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