We can take issue with Elon Musk's personal life and business decisions all we want, but the fact is that he almost singlehandedly forced the hands of world automakers to embrace the EV future. Without Tesla, the internal combustion engine would remain the status-quo for an extra century beyond what it already is. Don't get me wrong, I love me the burble of a naturally aspirated V8 paired to three pedals just as American Jesus intended.
On my radio show and podcast, I have long since argued my personal opinion that at the end of the day, capitalism used effectively is the absolute best economic structure in which environmentalism can advance and thrive. The consumer doesn't care what their drink straw is made out of, but they know paper straws suck. Nobody complains about biodegradable plastic straws, nor do most notice a difference from traditional plastic. That's the beauty of capitalism at its best. The better product "wins" because it's better, not because it requires virtue signaling to make up for its inferiority.
Prior to Tesla, automakers have tried their hand at EV to largely terrible, unsuccessful outcomes (i.e. "sales") almost entirely the result of being forced to answer to corporate bean counters. "Garbage in, garbage out" as the saying goes.
Tesla used the full force of capitalism to simply engineer and offer a superior electric vehicle while also making it sexy and desirable. A product that itself needs no excuses nor virtue-signaling to justify...despite the hot air you might hear venting from individual well-healed yuppie owners over a mocha frappe crappe splatte shatte latte.
The cars themselves are incredibly cool and desirable. A Model S that can do 0-60 in 3 seconds occupies the same "that's cool" region of the brain as a 2020 C8 Corvette or Enzo Ferrari. The fact that it's zero emission is just the cherry on top, not its ONLY gimmick.
A Prius is a statement that you're willing to compromise to be more "green", a Tesla says you won't.
It's an almost zero compromise, ultra-fast, superior, sexy, desirable product...a darling of capitalism.
Elon Musk's effective use of capitalism is exactly and precisely why more global automakers are "going green". Musk used capitalism to make "green" marketable without having to make excuses. Tesla has created a market for EV, so much so that over 40,000,000 Americans say that they'd consider an EV as their next vehicle if it was affordable.
Major automakers are stepping up. Volkswagen/Audi Group will be producing affordable EVs right here in our own backyard in Chattanooga Tennessee with GM and other automakers following suit. None of this happened because Uncle Sam forced the issue as a condition of a bailout. It happened because an entrepreneur came to the United States, stepped up, and made "green" technology desirable not just available.
Seeing Elon Musk test drive a Volkswagen ID.4 is not an oxymoronic gesture to feel out the competition, it's the realization of a dream.