Dr. Elon vs Mr. Musk

Great read about the “production hell” at Tesla (written by a Pulitzer Prize author, published in 2019)

In the mid-2000s, the company was designing the luxury Model S when Musk insisted the car needed handles that would lie flush against its body. They would glide out, as if by magic, just as the owner reached the vehicle, by responding to a signal from an electronic key. “It was unanimous among the executive staff that the complex door handle idea was crazy,” said a former executive. It required incredibly complicated engineering, and it solved a problem that no one else thought was actually a problem. But no matter how forcefully executives objected, Musk wouldn’t yield. Even once the car was released, the handles sometimes proved troublesome. When Consumer Reports wanted to review a Model S in 2015, it had to postpone the analysis because “the fancy retractable door handles refused to let us in.”

But Musk was right. Those door handles quickly became a signature feature. A flush handle is now standard on every new Tesla. “It creates this almost emotional connection with the car, this sense that you’re part of the future,” the former executive said. “And that’s Elon’s genius. He knows what people want before they know.” This is the familiar pattern: Musk demands something impossible. Colleagues push back. Musk insists. And then innovation occurs at a speed hardly anyone thought possible.
— https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-life-inside-gigafactory/