Why Elon Musk Thought Tesla Would Fail

NEW YORK (TheStreet) Appearing on CBS (CBS) program 60 Minutes means you've made it. Well, not only has Tesla Motors (TSLA) and CEO Elon Musk made it, but Musk is venturing to go where no one has gone before. Even if he goes broke doing it.

In an interview on 60 Minutes last night with Scott Pelley, Musk noted that he's been working on grand, ambitious plans not only to make money, but because they will further humanity. "If something's important enough, you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure," Musk said regarding risky projects, and Tesla in particular. During the interview, Musk noted he thought Tesla would likely fail, given the nascent state of electric vehicles at the time.

"Well, I didn't really think Tesla would be successful," Musk said. "I thought we would most likely fail. But I thought that we at least could address the false perception that people have that an electric car had to be ugly and slow and boring like a golf cart." 

That last line about changing the perception of electric vehicles is perhaps more important than the failure part, even if Tesla's initial investors probably weren't too thrilled hearing that. The electric vehicle had been around long before Tesla and the Model S, most notably with General Motors' (GM) EV1, which was produced from 1996 to 1999. The car, which was only leased (not sold) in California and a small program in Georgia, was hideous looking, resembling a space ship, a sort of golf cart of the future. Here's the car's Wikipedia page, for a trip down memory lane.

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