December 2, 2014
How Elon Musk is Changing the World
“Sustainable energy is the fundamental problem the world faces.” – Elon Musk
Every generation needs a pioneer who can transform industries and societies.
Elon Musk certainly fits this mold.
Musk, 43, was a co-founder of PayPal, who after selling his holdings in that company, looked for ways he could help the world through green, innovative and futuristic businesses.
You may not know his name, but it is likely you have heard of Tesla – his increasingly successful electric car company.
Musk is also the CEO of SpaceX, who is developing the tools and technology to allow us to live in space. And finally, he is the Chairman of SolarCity, his renewable-energy company specializing in Solar Power for both homeowners and businesses.
Musk is such an important figure in the way our future is developing that it is worth looking in more depth at each of his major commercial offerings.
SolarCity and its electric dreams
SolarCity Corporation was founded in 2006 and has its headquarters in San Mateo, California.
In just eight years, the company has grown so rapidly that they are now America’s No. 1 solar power provider. Presently, they provide one out of every four new solar electricity systems installed in the U.S.
They have achieved this phenomenal success by having a clear goal of making solar energy available to homeowners, businesses and non-profit organizations at less cost than they currently pay for energy generated by fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
Although solar power is the company’s primary offering, they also provide energy-efficiency audits and build charging stations for electric vehicles.
Innovation is at the heart of SolarCity.
Tesla and the end of gasoline
Tesla Motors Inc. was founded in 2006 and has its global headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
Right from the start the company had a very clear objective: To commercialize electric vehicles, firstly with a premium sports car aimed at wealthy early adopters, and then into more mainstream and affordable electric vehicles.
Their goal was quickly realized, as just two years after the company’s founding they released the acclaimed Tesla Roadster, the first all-electric sports car.
The Roadster offers an astounding 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. And a single charge enables the car to travel for up to 245 miles. This impressive car attracted a great deal attention for the company, and enabled them to develop and release their second car, the Model S, a fully electric luxury sedan.
Tesla followed up these cars with the Model S (sedan) released in 2012, and their latest car the Model X (SUV), which is set to be released in early 2015. The Model S and Model X are helping to fulfill Tesla’s goal of bringing affordable fully electric cars to the general public.
Remarkably, Tesla’s vehicles are already on the road in 37 different countries.
A further testament to their success came in the first quarter of 2013, when Tesla posted profits for the first time in its history.
SpaceX and life on other planets
SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 and has its headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
The company was created by Musk with the aim of revolutionizing space technology. The ultimate ambition is enabling people to live on other planets. To achieve these formidable goals, SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches its own advanced rockets and spacecraft.
Key milestones in the company’s history include:
Dec. 2008 – NASA awards SpaceX $1.6B Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
Jul. 2009 – SpaceX’s Falcon 1 makes history, becoming the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to deliver a commercial satellite to Earth orbit.
Dec. 2010 – SpaceX’s Dragon became the first privately developed spacecraft in history to re-enter from low-Earth orbit.
May 2012 – The Dragon becomes the first private spacecraft in history to visit the space station.
SpaceX’s contract with NASA involves using the Dragon spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. Currently, Dragon is unmanned, but SpaceX is making modifications to enable Dragon to carry a crew as well.
This will take the company a further (and significant) step towards their end target of helping people live on other planets.
Could it be that Musk has achieved so much due to focusing on solutions rather than profits?
Let’s conclude with a quote from Musk which nicely sums up his motives:
“Going from PayPal, I thought: ‘Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?’ Not from the perspective, ‘What’s the best way to make money?”
Craig J Todd – Freelance writer with a passion for tech, trends and simplicity.
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