Elon Musk Named Person of the Year by Financial Times

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by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Elon Musk Named Person of the Year by Financial Times
Photo: Financial Times

Tesla CEO and billionaire businessman Elon Musk has become the Financial Times’ Person of the Year for his role in championing EVs in the auto industry.

The Financial Times has named billionaire and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) chief executive officer Elon Musk as its ‘person of the year.’ This move comes on the heels of Time Magazine also crowning the outspoken businessman with the same title.

According to the FT, Musk earned this year’s award due to his laudable efforts in revolutionizing the electric vehicle industry. The prominent newspaper company said that Musk’s work at the helm of Tesla has shifted global focus to electric vehicles. Several younger prospective car buyers and auto-manufacturing companies now seriously consider making EVs the staple of their garage lineup. Furthermore, this is a trend that will likely continue well into the incoming year – and beyond.

The FT’s editor Roula Khalaf wrote in a column that Musk and his team effectively demonstrated that EVs could replace gasoline-powered cars. However, Musk’s accomplishment did not come easy, nor would the Tesla CEO have it reported as so. In an interview with the FT, Musk spoke about the initial resistance he weathered:

“For a long time, the rest of the auto industry was basically calling Tesla and me fools and frauds. They were saying electric cars wouldn’t work, you can’t achieve the range and performance. And even if you did that, nobody would buy them.”

In the ensuing period, Musk repeatedly locked horns with government regulators and short-sellers on Wall Street. In addition, the Tesla head also bore most of the internal risks associated with promoting EVs, while facing bankruptcy.

Elon Musk: a Decade in the Making

Almost ten years ago, Musk’s company Tesla released a vehicle line, called Model S, which first set the ‘revolutionary ball rolling.’ Now, the EV automaker’s Model 3 series, which launched about four years ago, has seen sizable success among auto consumers. This is due to its renewable energy power source, environmentally-friendly outlook, and overall sustainable makeup.

Today, leading automakers, including Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, and Toyota, are all looking to commit to EVs going forward. Specifically, Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota announced that it was investing $35 billion into manufacturing EVs.

Coupled with his valiant achievements in playing an influencing role was the external input from climate change activists, according to Musk. The EV prime mover says increasing calls for the need to ‘go green’ by climate change activists further helped his cause. That, and the fact that Tesla “started taking market share from [traditional automakers] in a meaningful way.”

Even some of Musk’s former skeptics within the automobile industry are now openly commending his achievements. For instance, former vice-chair of General Motors and president of Chrysler Bob Lutz, who once doubted Tesla’s chances, calls Musk’s impact “unbelievable.” Lutz even took his admiration for Musk one step further by seemingly ribbing some of the Tesla CEO’s auto rivals.

“This is why Mercedes-Benz and BMW are so afraid of him,” says he.

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