Design Museum’s Alex Newson on custom-made cars
Part entrepreneur, part businessman, part engineer, part designer, Elon Musk has been responsible for a series of ventures that have shaken three very different industries. However, it’s his work with Tesla that I’m most drawn to.
The Tesla factory is set up to perform like an enormous CNC machine, where the automated robots can make different parts simply by being given different instructions, and without the need to reinvest in new machine tools each time a change is made. The aim is to provide affordable variety and customisation within individual vehicle models – as we can with customised Nike or Adidas shoes.
The Tesla plant is as innovative now as Ford’s was in 1913. Musk is essentially displacing Henry Ford’s vision of mass-standardisation with one of mass-customisation.