“Impossible” often really isn’t impossible. It’s often just a possibility that just takes longer to come into being and/or requires hard work. This is a thought I picked up from an author I admire, Billy Carson. And this thought applies to Tesla, Elon Musk, and the teams he manages. 2020 was a year of impossibilities and challenges for many people. Tesla not only beat the odds, but also logged many achievements.
Tesla’s Senior Vice President of Powertrain and Energy Engineering, Drew Baglino, shared a video that inspired this article. It’s a recap of Tesla’s previous year and achievements. He shared it with the caption, “The Tesla team: making the impossible, possible.”
The video is below. However, I broke down the 25 accomplishments for those wanting to read on as they listen to the video or instead of watching the video.
Tesla’s 25 Achievements in 2020
1. Tesla Giga Shanghai’s First Model 3 Deliveries. Giga Shanghai’s success was a great start to 2020 for Tesla. Many said it would fail, that the site was just a field of mud and the factory didn’t exist and never would. Tesla’s speed at building Giga Shanghai and then bringing it online wound up being the inspiration for the new term “Tesla speed.”
2. Tesla Giga Berlin’s Groundbreaking. Following Giga Shanghai coming online, producing made-in-China Model 3s, and its first customer deliveries, we had the groundbreaking of Giga Berlin. One year later, Giga Berlin’s constructing is coming along beautifully, and Alex Voigt noticed something last month that sparked excitement. Tesla’s German website stated that production is expected to start in the middle of 2021. Considering we are already in March, that’s just a few months away!
3. Tesla’s 1,000,000th EV! Just one year ago, Elon Musk noted that Tesla has produced 1 million electric vehicles. That’s a lot of EVs. It’s not a lot of vehicles compared to the millions of fossil fuel vehicles that legacy automakers produce annually, but Tesla sales and the EV market are growing. We have to start somewhere, and starting with Tesla’s milestone of 1 million EVs is an excellent place to speed up.
4. Tesla Giga New York Builds Solar Roofs for 1,000 Homes in One Week. Last March, Tesla announced that Giga New York built enough Solar Roofs for 1,000 homes in one week. This translates to the production of 4MW worth of photovoltaic tiles in 7 days. Many forget that Tesla also has a solar and energy business, but its production facilities are also ramping up. Also, you may recall that many critics said Tesla’s solar roof tiles weren’t real, would never go into production, and certainly wouldn’t be cost competitive.
5. Tesla Model Y Deliveries Begin. Model Y deliveries began for many Tesla customers who have been anticipating this beauty of a crossover. In December, I got to experience a Tesla Model Y and I enjoyed how comfortable it was. I’d never been too comfortable in a driver’s seat before — but I felt a bit more confident sitting in the Model Y. Perhaps it has something to do with the Tesla seats that Sandy Munro and Zach Shahan love.
6. Q1 2020: Tesla Produced 102,672 Vehicles and Delivered 88,496. Considering that the pandemic was in full swing in China and starting to affect the rest of the world during the first quarter of 2020, this is a major achievement, and as we look back over 2020, we can see that Tesla is one of the very few automakers that did well despite the pandemic.
7. 100,000th Tesla Powerwall Installed. Another milestone for Tesla in 2020 was the installation of its 100,000th Powerwall, which it introduced back in 2016.
8. Tesla Model Y Deliveries in Canada. Canada was the second country where Tesla customers began receiving their Model Ys, yet again defying the old misperception that electric vehicles aren’t adequate in cold climates. (Unfortunately, some people still spread this misinformation.)
9. Better Factory Safety. Tesla’s annual impact report noted that Tesla’s Fremont Factory is 5% better than the Bureau of Labor Statistics industry average for auto manufactures with >1,000 employees when it comes to its injury rate.
10. First 400-Mile EV. Tesla’s Model S became the first electric vehicle to break the 400-mile range barrier. Its Model S Long Range Plus is EPA-rated for 402 miles on a full charge.
11. Lowest Cost Solar Panels In America. In June, Tesla introduced the lowest ever cost for solar panels in America. Its average system size is one-third less expensive than the industry average. Tesla also introduced a lowest-price guarantee.
12. Q2 2020: Tesla Produced 82,272 vehicles and Delivered 90,891 Vehicles. This was the quarter that was most affected by the global economic shutdowns that happened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Tesla’s numbers were a shock to the world since many expected them to be lower.
13. Tesla Giga Texas Announcement. Everything’s bigger in Texas, so it’s no wonder Tesla is taking on Texas. Also, the two have a one-letter difference — odd fact, I know. One of the cool things about Giga Texas that I noticed is that the stadium lights used in construction are built right here in Baton Rouge. How far do the economic ramifications of Giga Texas actually go? At the beginning of 2021, Tesla shared a side-by-side comparison of Giga Texas — where it was earlier this year and where it started. I believe this was Tesla’s attempt at the How It Started, How It’s Going meme.
14. World’s Largest Megapack Project Begins. In February of 2020, Tesla was approved to start on the world’s largest Megapack project, a reinvention of the Moss Landing power plant in California.
15. 5:1 Stock Split. This was something that made my day when it happened. I got really sick and was diagnosed with Covid-19, then later tested negative once testing became available in my state. I barely remember February and March — it’s all a blur. I had to sell my shares because I was too sick and needed medicine — stuff that was hiked 100× in price due to the issues of last year (and the financial opportunities for some under-regulated companies). However, I’ve fully recovered, and thanks to the stock split, I bought my shares back and have a few more.
16. Completion of The Hornsdale Battery Expansion. In September 2020, expansion of Neoen’s Hornsdale Power Reserve — aka the Tesla Big Battery — was completed.
17. Tesla Model S Plaid At Laguna Seca. Road and Track called Tesla’s Model S Plaid “otherworldly-quick.” This superfast vehicle, driven by IMSA racing driver Johannes van Overbeek, was just around three seconds behind the McLaren Senna, which holds Laguna Seca’s overall production car lap record. Tesla’s Model S Plaid can reach 0–60 in less than 2 seconds.
18. Tesla Battery Day. Tesla’s Battery Day event was jam-packed full of information on Tesla’s technological achievements in battery technology and its plans for mining, and so much more. This is also where Tesla introduced its 4680 tabless battery cell which will provide five times more energy and six times more power as well as a 16% greater driving range.
19. Q3: 2020 Tesla Produced 145,036 Vehicles and Delivered 139,593 Vehicles. Tesla’s third quarter of last year was a continuance of its successes in the face of a pandemic that resulted in other automakers struggling, something that even led to the bankruptcy filings of several oil and gas companies. This goes to show that demand for clean energy is on the rise.
20. Tesla Giga Shanghai Shipped Vehicle To Europe. Remember the Gigafactory that didn’t exist — the field of mud? Well, Giga Shanghai started exporting made-in-China Model 3s to Europe last year.
21. FSD Beta. Tesla has been focusing on revolutionizing the way humans drive, and its Full Self-Driving (FSD) software started rolling out to customers who were known for their safe driving practices — such as John from Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley, who CleanTechnica interviewed.
22. 20,000 Superchargers. Tesla’s growth in its Supercharger network has been phenomenal.
23. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report. Tesla released its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report and noted that it had work to do while laying out a game plan for doing this work.
24. Tesla Joined S&P 500. In a theme that seemed to be perfectly scripted, Tesla joined the S&P 500 on Winter Solstice 2020. Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, which is notable considering that Tesla was long the most shorted stock on the internet. This couldn’t have been a more perfect taunt — a company that many of these critics have been hoping will fail being added to the S&P 500 on the shortest day of the year. And Tesla didn’t even have any hand in that. Fate loves irony.
25. Tesla Produced 500,000 EVs in One Year. Many critics wrote that Tesla would never produce 500,000 EVs in 2020, something that had been a Tesla goal for several years. It was called impossible. Nothing like it had ever been done. The critics were proven wrong.
The last year has been insane, but watching Tesla grow during a time when other companies were struggling was an inspiration. It showed that what people truly want are items — whether these items are cars or other products — that will not harm this planet. Tesla’s success is something that many will continue to study over the next few decades, and its story is one that is still being written. And those of us who write about Tesla are also helping to write its story.
What I have learned from observing Tesla is that no matter how dark things may seem to be in the moment, we must keep moving forward and focusing on our dreams, goals, and what makes our hearts sing.