Tesla tends to innocently, maybe even naively, trample auto industry norms. So, as development of Model III begins in earnest, TeslaMondo wonders if Tesla will ever violate the industry edict that says automakers must guess what consumers want instead of simply asking.
We now have an instant feedback tool called the Internet. It’s a very big focus group. Tesla could float ideas and get instant public reaction through a series of online referenda. It could float three preliminary Model III designs, for example, and let online voting narrow the field to two, or even one. Tesla could float a $10k upgrade package and find out immediately if it’s a hit. That kind of thing.
Is TeslaMondo naive for even breaching this subject? Is public input such a universally, decidedly bad idea? Sure, there’s a downside:
- It tips Tesla’s hand to the competition. Wait — Tesla has competition? In core technology, not yet. In design/aesthetics, sure.
- A focus group of this size could be considered unfocused.
- John Q Public tends to think by analogy, and therefore might downvote a bold idea simply because it’s a bold idea. Falcon wings come to mind. Henry Ford’s famous misquote about “faster horses” also comes to mind. If he’d asked what the public wanted, the alleged quote goes, the answer would have been “faster horses.”
- The voting process could quickly become polluted with ill-wishers who want to steer Tesla wrong. Maybe these referenda would have to be restricted to current Tesla owners, each with a unique log-in. Or current BMW owners. Whatever works.
- It could imply that a Tesla is the fruit of the lowest common denominator, your peers, instead of a gift from the best designers and engineers on the planet.
What’s the upside? Well . . .
- Speed is important. Tesla could save a lot of time using instant feedback.
- Image is important. This would solidify Tesla’s “why not” image.
- Buzz is important. This would have the world buzzing for sure.
It’s just a little odd that a consumer-centric car company, which eschews middle-man dealers in favor of mano-a-mano customer experience, shares its patents, nestles pop-culture humor into its electronics, makes product launches into rock concerts, and uses social media like a high school friend — would bow to tradition by hiding in a “do not disturb” chamber for the next few months and then springing forth with our next Tesla.
Sure, hit us with your best shot. But does it have to be a shot in the dark?