Speaking strictly of Tesla and the incredible success it’s been enjoying, Leno says a distinction between the company and its CEO is impossible. If anything, the company owes Musk the success, because he’s a visionary like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and, just as importantly, has a seat on the board, which allows him to bring his ideas to reality. Every other carmaker out there is a corporation, and you can tell by the cars they make.
“Can you imagine any of the major automobile manufacturers saying ‘Let’s call this high performance feature ‘Plaid’ like they did in ‘Spaceballs’ as a joke?’,” Leno says, referring to Tesla’s most high-powered vehicle. “You’d be fired or thrown out of the office. But when you own the company? Well, my car says ‘Plaid’ on the back of it. When you own the company, you can do whatever you want. Some people love it and some people hate it, but that’s why all other cars look alike. Because everything else has to be designed by committee.”
And it’s those “jokes” that make Teslas unique and, at the same time, more appealing to newcomers and already established customers. Leno also names the Ludicrous mode and the yoke-like steering wheel among such quirks that Musk made real on real cars.
Leno is not wrong, either: Musk has a very special touch that he brings to his approach to making cars. He’s not wrong when he says that it’s a hate it or leave it-type of thing, and that becomes obvious if you look at the divided reactions to whatever announcement Musk makes at any given time. It can be his decision to make a Not-A-Flamethrower flamethrower or to build a rave cave under Giga Berlin, where specially-made GigaBier will be served, or to put a farts function in a Tesla – call it childish humor or a stroke of genius, but it does help make Teslas stand out.