I want to take Tesla as an example in reflection of this week’s readings. Telsa Inc., founded in 2003 in Palo Alto California, is an electric vehicle (EV) design and manufacturing company whose products range from vehicles to energy capture and storage systems. The arriving of Tesla begins a new era and technology in the vehicle industry and according to Arthur, the combination principle applies to Tesla. In this mini essay, I want to de-blackbox Tesla as a socio-technical solution for sustainable conversion through an analysis of Tesla’s product lifecycle, a Tesla buyer’s product journey from prospective owner to owner, and in the examination of a core component of the Tesla electric vehicle system.
Professor Irvine said, “a network is a system of interconnected nodes, and no node in the network has any reality outside the network system that it is connected to.” Indeed, there are many divisions and components involved when trying to de-black the sustainability side of the Tesla. One of the major divisions is technological innovation and under this division we have components like: super charger, charging stations, lithium ion battery, auto-pilot, high performance etc. All these components lead to energy consumption and renewable energy, which eventually ties back to sustainability. We can also picture Tesla as a tree as Arthur had used in his book. Tesla as a whole is the tree trunk and sustainability and technological innovation are the main branches. Some of the sub-branches and twigs include, carbon emissions and footprints, social environmental responsibility, buyers/non-buyers/potential buyers, engineering, sales, marketing, distribution etc. Just like a tree, everything is connected and intertwined. All these components and parts work synergistically to help the organization achieve its goal of encouraging and contributing to sustainability. Tesla is able to achieve this through a focus on optimizing each tier of its business model so to contribute holistically to a reduction in waste, a streamlining of process, and a prioritization on innovation and development.
Tesla as a high-tech company brings technological innovation and technological innovation helps us achieve sustainability and sustainability helps us reduce carbon emissions and footprints. Tesla’s technological innovation includes technology like supercharger and it is marketed and produced by its departments like, marketing, sales, branding and finance. These departments appeals to buyers, non-buyers and potential buyers and no matter the customer’s decision, the sustainability part of Tesla will reach the audience one way or another – individuals can either reach sustainability through owning a Tesla car or become more environmentally conscious because of Tesla’s sustainable concept. Lastly, I want to briefly touch on Norman’s concept as well. One of Tesla’s success as a pioneer in the EV industry comes from system thinking and Tesla doesn’t treat anything as an isolated object. Let’s look at the supercharger. Not only will a Tesla car tell you all the supercharger locations but also it will automatically direct you to the nearest one when the car battery is running low. You don’t have to worry about anything and if there is no supercharger available nearby, the car will direct you to a normal charging station or to a third-party EV charging station. You can see the remaining battery level and estimated remaining time on the dashboard and when you arrive at the supercharger station, the dashboard in your car, your Tesla mobile app as well as the screen at the station will tell you the estimated charging time and the overall progress. While you wait for the car to charge, you can relax, grab a coffee and surf on the internet at the supercharger station. You can see how Tesla is very user-friendly and the entire charging process is very much worry-free and “human-centered”.
Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves. Excerpts from chapters 1, 2, 4.
Donald A. Norman, Living with Complexity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2010. Excerpts
Martin Irvine, Introduction to Design Thinking: Systems and Architectures