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What Tesla and Google Share

Tesla hasn't really invented anything any more than Google invented the Internet. Tesla has simply taken factory automation to its logical conclusion. They've done this within a small niche, high-end cars that run on batteries, but it's a niche that can now be extended, down-market and worldwide.

While Tesla has focused on robotics, Toyota has been going the other way, building smaller, cheaper plants that are flexible and more driven by human energy, as Michel Baudin describes in detail on his blog.

It sets up a market battle where the small, American company is focused on low-cost, mass manufacture, while the gigantic Japanese company that has been using robots for 40 years goes the other way. Many investors, having seen the story of Google, think they know how to bet on that.

It will be fun to see if they're right. Watching the car market has suddenly become fun again.

At the time of publication the author held GOOG.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.
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