While the data is a bit fuzzy, it seems Tesla sold somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 cars in the first three quarters of 2014. That's a far cry from the goal of 500,000 annually Elon Musk and company have set for 2020. Whether he's successful or not will depend largely on the much-hyped gigafactory -- a massive lithium ion battery factory under construction in the Nevada desert.
But whether Musk reaches that goal or not is, in some ways, irrelevant. Future success, or lack thereof, won't change the fact that Tesla has changed the face of the automotive industry. He's made a fully electric car that is practical and quite a bit sexy at the same time.
That, however, has not been good enough for the naysayers who point to car fires and overly optimistic sales predictions.
Jay Leno, known as much for his love of autos as for his witty punchlines, is not one of those critics. Yahoo Finance caught up with him last week at the Global Financial Leadership Conference.
“We love noble failures more than successes,” the former Tonight Show host noted. “They made such a story out of [the fires] and the stock went down and so... It just seemed very unfair to me. I mean here’s an American guy, built an American product in America. God Bless him.”
Leno agreed that Tesla has become a successful brand as noted by the fact that people who want a Tesla don’t even consider other electric options. “It's the best one of its class. The Fisker didn’t make it because it was a great looking car and it was a car built by a designer more than an engineer. That’s nothing against Mr. Fisker, he’s a terrific designer but it just wasn’t finished.”
The Fisker was not fully electric and only got 20 miles per charge. Tesla has largely eliminated that “range anxiety” problem that has plagued electric cars. That advantage should set them on the path to success, though only time will tell if that gigfactory is the key to hitting its lofty targets.