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Tesla Motors: Disrupting the Auto Industry?

Published 25 Jan 2016
Reference 6174
Topic Strategy
Region Global
Length 13 page(s)
Prizes & Awards

Winner of the Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2018 in the Category 'Strategy and General Management Category'


The Tesla case provides multiple opportunities to discuss core strategy and innovation topics, such as: • Patterns of innovation, e.g., new technologies competing to replace older generations • Types of disruption, e.g., low-end versus high-end • The innovation ecosystem, e.g., thinking beyond a single technology to the interdependence of an ecosystem of supporting technologies • Systems strategy, e.g., thinking beyond the product to understand the role of technology architecture and systems • The innovation process, e.g. learning under conditions of uncertainty, scaling up for execution.

Teaching objectives

The teaching note is organized around a set of discussion questions that bring out each of these issues in the case. Videos of Tesla’s factory (available online) can be used to make the case more vivid, or compared with a video of a General Motors manufacturing plant to inspire further discussion (URLs are cited at the end of the case).

  • Innovation
  • Disruption
  • Technology Change
  • Architectural Innovation
  • Technology Strategy
  • Systems
  • Radical Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Q21516
  • Corporate Governance
  • Value Creation, Strategy and Implementation