Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s strategy in China is in line with the lessons from The Art Of War by Sun Tzu, according to venture capitalist Paul Holland. The electric car maker did not dip its toes but went straight for the heart of its potential biggest competitors in the electric vehicle market.
“Go right to the home territory of your competitor and make sure you dominate there. He’s not going to Detroit. He’s going to Shanghai,” said Holland, general partner of Foundation Capital during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Alley.
The Netflix and Uber investor praised Musk for his bold move and pointed out that Nanjing, China-based Byton could be the top rival of the Palo Alto, California-based green car manufacturer. Byton, according to Holland, has a huge team of developers in California and has a very large car plant in China. He also pointed to BAIC Group as another big rival in Beijing.
Holland shared his observation on Tuesday, the same day Tesla China made its first deliveries of locally-made Model 3s and launched its Model Y program.
For those not familiar, The Art Of War was written by Chinese military commander and general Sun Tzu about 2,500 years ago. It is one of the most influential books on war that has shaped how wars have been fought. The book continues to have vital importance in the decision making of generals, business leaders, and athletes of today.
With Tesla practically opening the floodgates to bring the Model 3 to consumers in the largest automotive market in the world, its strategy has so far been flawless. As the carmaker revealed, Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai hit a run-rate of more than 3,000 vehicles per week and is focused on ramping up production to eventually achieve 5,000 vehicles a week.
Likewise, it fired shots against its competitors when it recently lowered the price of the Made-In-China Model 3 from $50,000 to $42,919. It’s cooperation with the Chinese government also resulted in a considerable amount of support such as exemption of its Model 3 from 10% purchase tax, which makes the mass-produced electric sedan more affordable to Chinese consumers.
During the event at Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai on Tuesday, Musk also formally launched the Model Y program that will bring the all-electric crossover to the local market and give buyers more options to choose from. The Tesla chief also mentioned that his company will form an engineering and design center in China that will come up with vehicles for the local market and the rest of the globe.
Just like what Sun Tzu suggests in The Art of War, Tesla dominates its competitors and acted swiftly. “Rapidity is the essence of war,” it reads, and Tesla did that in China. To start, Gigafactory 3 is a major achievement for Musk and his car brand. From a muddy field, GF3 was able to produce the first Model 3s in just 10 months and made mass delivery on its first year anniversary.
If indeed Musk is using the strategy suggested in The Art of War by Sun Tzu in China, it will be no surprise if he is doing the same in Germany where Tesla seemingly caught the automotive giants resting on their laurels once more.
Here’s the segment on CNBC where venture capitalist Paul Holland shared his observation of Tesla: