Each car company is going head to head but Tesla is ahead of the game.

 

Tesla Motors ranks No. 1 on FORBES’ new list of the world’s most innovative companies.  And, the differences between Tesla and a Detroit carmaker, or one from the rest of the world for that matter, are easy to spot.

 

Reading through this story accompanying the list, by Jeff Dyer, a professor at Brigham Young University’s MarriottSchool of Business, Hal Gregersen the executive director of the MIT Leadership Center and Nathan Furr, an assistant professor at INSEAD, I spotted four ways Tesla differs from its automotive competition.

 

1) It constantly tears up its assembly line. To me, the experts buried the lede, as we say in the journalism world. Deep down in their story, the authors write, “Most automakers lay out their shop floor once to minimize costs and plan model lines that will remain unchanged for several years. Tesla’s production engineers are continually changing the layout of the factory to learn as much as possible.”

 

That’s something no mass market car company can afford to do. But according to the writers, Tesla learned the benefits of staying nimble early on, with its first car, the Roadster. It tried to establish a global supply chain similar to that of a typical car company, but Tesla wasn’t ready for that setup, and having manufacturing spread out over the world led to massive coordination problems.

 

That said, Tesla is starting to standardize is production practices as it adds capacity for the Model S sedan and the upcoming Model X. The manufacturing world will be scrutinizing what happens with Tesla stops making constant changes and settles on a production system.

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