De­sign Mu­seum’s Alex Newson on cus­tom-made cars

Australian T3 - - RADAR -

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.

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