The automotive manufacturing industry has a long history of maverick companies and CEOs that rise up and challenge the status quo.
A prime example is Henry Ford, the automotive pioneer who gave the car industry the Model T, mass production and the assembly line.
Today, the maverick out to change the way auto makers produce and sell cars—and how consumers research and buy them online—is Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Inc. The manufacturer of electric cars is challenging convention by bypassing dealers in favor of a direct-to-consumer strategy that lets consumers research and purchase a vehicle entirely over the web.
Tesla, which began building cars and selling them online to consumers in 2012, produced and delivered 245,506 electric cars last year. The manufacturer is on track to boost production and vehicle delivery by as much as 63% to between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles in 2019.
Tesla doesn’t build conventional cars powered by gasoline. Instead it builds electric car that have advanced features such as big touch screens with web connectivity on the center console, and the ability to self-park and self-drive. Tesla also cut out the middleman by developing a direct-to-consumer sales model that lets customers build, finance, purchase and arrange for delivery for their vehicle entirely online.
“Tesla is the only auto maker to sell new cars directly to consumers online without the involvement of a physical dealer,” says Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas. “It’s just so easy to buy a Tesla through the company’s website—it’s three clicks, and that’s about as many clicks as it takes to buy catnip on Amazon.”
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