If you had a time machine and could go back to the beginning of the 19th century, you would discover a world that still used the horse a lot – but that had just been captivated by a new machine that was slamming, the car.
The automobile was the internet of the late 1800s and early 1900s, attracting a frenzied entrepreneurial spirit, launching hundreds of new businesses and transforming a maritime hub located in the Upper Midwest into Motown, the center of what would become the automotive industry.
The automotive sector is now very different. Ford and General Motors were each founded more than 100 years ago. Upstart Toyota has been manufacturing cars since the 1930s. Even frisky Ferrari has existed since 1939, selling road cars since the late 1940s.
Car manufacturers operate on a large scale in all international time zones, employing hundreds of thousands of people and selling millions of vehicles every year. They can no longer be led by visionaries, because these, although valuable, do not allow to hum the giant machine.
That's why Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, is such a shock. His personality is not so different from those determined entrepreneurs of the 1900s who wanted to put an engine on a carriage and move people without having to harness a horse. For industry veterans, Wall Street and Musk critics, it can be hard to accept.
But it is not usual in the history of people who create car companies. In fact, he is faithful to typing. Here's why: