We know about the cars, rocket ships, and tunnels; Ludicrous, Twitter, and Grimes. But for all of Musk’s ventures, including Tesla producing and delivering 1.3 million EVs globally in 2022, his most underrated breakthrough may be Tesla’s biggest modern edge: the Supercharger network.
“Without the Supercharger network, we wouldn’t be talking about Tesla today,” says Dan Ives, a Wall Street tech analyst and regular television commentator on Tesla and EVs. “It was the core DNA of their success, along with innovation and engineering. Now it’s the linchpin of their brand and their competitive moat against other automakers.”
For the fledgling Tesla of roughly 2008 to 2012, life-or-death priorities included developing the Model S and opening a California factory. Then there was solving fiendish battery riddles, plus managing an IPO, Wall Street, and the government. Musk staved off personal bankruptcy as he poured $55 million into the company by 2008, even as he pushed SpaceX toward liftoff.
Considering all the Hail Mary plays, it’s striking that Musk & Co. could draw up one more for a far-flung global charging network. But from the early days, executives including JB Straubel, the chief technical officer Musk considered a co-founder, saw game-changing potential.