This week Elon Musk of Tesla took to the stage in California to launch the third phase of his three-phase 'top secret plan' for global domination in the world of electric cars, amongst other small side projects he has on at the moment.
Within a week he had closed sales for $14 billion worth of cars of making it the biggest product launch in the history of business, eclipsing anything that Apple, the worlds biggest company also driven by STEAM powered innovation, has ever done.
To us Tesla is the epitome of a STEAM powered company that combines art and science in the second industrial revolution we are now living through, where art meets science again as it did in Leonardo's day and "creativity is as important as literacy". Fuelling innovation, for all our futures.
And Musk's 25 minute performance was one of the most inspiring, engaging and informative lessons any child, parent, student, professor or business person could ever wish for.
Don't worry - we've edited it down to 30 second and 6 minute versions above and below at the bottom of this page, together with the original 25 minute version.
A History lesson
I'm currently reading Fire and Steam by Christian Wolmar, a fascinating story of the challenges and impact of rolling out the railways across the world since the early 1800’s. A tale of innovation, financial juggling, innovation and massive social change, a fascinating story with many parallels.
(Did you know that the UK invested more in the railways in a few years in the mid 1800's than the country spent on World War II? That railways jump-started capitalism. That Great Western Railway drivers wore white uniforms? And that you don't have to be a train-spotter to see the significance of all this)
That was the steam-powered revolution. This is the STEAM powered revolution.
How wonderful it was most recently to have been able to launch STEAM Co. in the Great North-East of England in Sunderland with a full size cardboard model of Stephenson’s Rocket on stage alongside the Stained-Glass Driverless Sleeper Car designed by Sunderland’s very own Inventor, Designer and STEAM Co. Inspirator Dominic Wilcox.
(Coincidentally, we were chuffed to see the real Stephenson's Rocket at the Science Museum last week on the way to the inspiring Leonardo exhibition which had art alongside engineering)
This STEAM Co. regional launch event set out to provide legacy for INVENTORS! - Dominic's three-month project to inspire tomorrows inventors, innovators and creatives by working with over 500 children in some of the city’s most deprived quarters. At our event we had amazing support from the local Nissan plant who provide hands on engineering education in dedicated facilities for 5,000 local children every year.
Fire and Steam also told the story of how two Quaker bankers, keen to invest in society's pioneers, had invested in, depending on who you ask, was the world’s first steam railway: The Stockton & Darlington down the road from Sunderland.
As well as helping the Stockton & Darlington railway and other pioneers, check out our work with Barclays and their current Maker initiative here.
And how great the memory of the day we launched STEAM Co. on the same stage at the Royal Institution where Faraday had demonstrated early prototypes of the electric motor. Where indeed Nikola Tesla, the Serbian that quite possibly inspired the name of Musk's company, himself presented many times.
A business lesson.
Enough of yesterday, let's go back to that stage in Cali last week where Elon Musk described Tesla’s three stage 'top-secret masterplan' where initially they had to establish credibility not only for their own company but for the whole concept of electric vehicles as being fast, affordable and enjoyable.
How with the Roadster they established their credentials with a high-performance great looking vehicle albeit expensive. He described how this vehicle went on to inspire electric vehicles from existing giants like General Motors and Nissan.
(We built a Greenpower Trust Goblin electric car on a STEAM Co. Day and raced it at Goodwood with a bit of help from Ford. See video to right)
The Model S then came along and fitted into the low volume high price category going on to be described as the best car ever in many reports both professional and consumer.
How that evolved into the SUV category as the Model X.
And how both cars funded the development of the third phase, the mass-market high volume low price Model 3. Being revealed today.
A Design Lesson
The Model 3 is packed with a whole range of asthetic, ergonomic and technological design features.
Look how the boxy flat screen dashboard of the Model S has been positioned on the dashboard as a standout tablet type interface.
How a single piece of glass across the roof creates the feeling of spaciousness. How the seats have been pushed forward into the engine compartment where there is now no engine providing space for five adult passengers.
AN Environmental lesson.
As Elon musk says “this is really important for the future of the world” and displays graphs showing carbon dioxide levels going off the scale. It was Al Gore's 'Inconvenient truth' brought up to date.
I won't restate those arguments here other than the first reaction is to the environmental impact of Tesla's battery technology which Musk said in a tweet yesterday is nickel based and therefore non toxic.
A Technology lesson.
He describes how Tesla’s battery making facility, the Gigafactory will be the biggest structure in the world and consume the entire global output of lithium ion and make more batteries than the rest of the world's factories combined!
He describes a global network of superchargers and a completely integrated dealer and support network.
AN Inspiration lesson.
Almost like the early British pioneers who laid the fire iron road and debated between human, horse and steam power, how Elon musk has taken on such hairy audacious goals and made them real to date with the existing three car models is almost beyond belief in itself but this current phase of expansion is simply mind-boggling.
Yet totally believable.
This is a man who has already developed and launched a reusable space rocket system and is creating a human transportation system in California to fire people between cities in tubes.
At STEAM Co. we're in awe and completely inspired by the art of people like Elon Musk and companies like Tesla, and are keen to work with them to share their passion their experience and their abilities to inspire the next generation.
We're looking for more individuals and companies like them - parents, teachers, students, carers, businesses, academies, museums, art and trade bodies to work with us and/or sponsor the roll out of STEAM Co. across the UK, if not the world.
STEAM : the combination of art and science is all our futures.
CREATIVITY IS GREAT
Finally to end on one of our favourite images. The official UKTI Creativity is GREAT Britain poster featuring Designer, Inventor and STEAM Co. Inspirator Dominic Wilcox.
A car design inspired by a family trip to Durham Cathedral, down the road from Sunderland, the centre of the UK's stained glass industry at the time.
Well before steam powered engines or STEAM powered electric cars.
And as seen on the US TV Late Show.
Watch the film below to see how Dominic and other world class artists can inspire tomorrow's Inventors, Innovators and Creatives as STEAM CO. Inspirators.
BECAUSE IT TAKES A WHOLE VILLAGE TO INSPIRE A CHILD.
A LESSON FROM ELON MUSK
You can watch the Tesla Model 3 launch here, there are two versions, a 6 minute STEAM CO. edit from the film that Tesla so generously made available and the original full blown 25 minute version.
Use this to inspire the children in your community, and do let us know what you think below.
6 MINUTE VERSION
We've got the best bits here. Enjoy.
ORIGINAL 25 MINUTE VERSION:
Sit back. Enjoy the whole thing end to end. Musk stutters here and there but given he also launched and landed his Space-X reusable rocket the same week (like you do), it's easy to imagine he didn't prioritise spending too long rehearsing a PowerPoint. His art speaks for him.