The Unconventional Showman

The Unconventional Showman

Travel to Mars, cryptocurrencies, OJ Simpson, X Æ A-12, Elon's mom and Asperger’s were just some of the highlights during the Tesla Technoking's first time as host on Saturday Night Live, which aired on May 8.

Besides adding his eccentric flair to the show, his influence in the electric vehicle industry was evident with the advertisements that were popping up during the live program. Even though Musk is known for transforming interest into electric vehicles with the launch of the original Model S in 2012, today there are an estimated 50 EV models available in the US from automakers such as Chevy, Ford, and Nissan. While Tesla has never spent money on advertising, his competitors certainly do.

During Saturday’s show, several car companies took the moment to advertise their electric vehicles and brands knowing Musk would draw a lot of attention as first-time host. Although Musk didn't push his own company’s brand, he did the opportunity to throw in a one-liner joke about driving a Toyota Prius hybrid.

But given that there was quite a buzz with Musk being on the show, the EV players knew viewership would be high. Musk also took to Twitter promoting the event and asking for ideas on sketches. Lucid was the first to get their ad on-air. The commercial titled, "Introducing Future" showed the latest Air sedan at a price $69,900 with its stylish interior and its performance of a 500+ mile range on a single charge. The new Model S Plaid model is said to have a range of 520 miles, which outranks the Lucid Air by a few miles.

Other EV ads had their turn as well with slots from Audi for its E-tron, Volvo with a plug-in hybrid SUV, Ford with the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, and Volkswagen with the recently released ID.4. It shows that having Tesla's figurehead on the show drew in EV ads one after the other.

Musk has always welcomed competition in the EV industry, and it seems that space is heating up. While the Lucid Air sedan is impressive, Tesla still holds the edge. Musk’s strategy was to always start with an expensive, premium car and let that finance the ‘cheaper’, higher-selling offerings. Tesla is also working towards producing a mass market $25,000 EV while offering other models well below Lucid’s $69k price tag (which is the basic model, not premium).

Added to that is Tesla’s brilliant and innovative move to build its own charger network. And Tesla's proprietary plugs are small and easier to handle, and all you have to do is plug in without the hassle of sorting out payment. The charger recognizes the car and automatically bills your credit card, and the cost (if it's not free) appears on the car's screen. To top that off, Tesla charging stations can be found cross-country in the states and many are in prime locations. However, Lucid has to partner with the Electrify America network, and while they have got off to a good start, Electrify America has to accommodate multiple brands and it has far fewer chargers per location. Right now, Electrify America has around 2,000 fast chargers at 500 stations in the states whereas Tesla has over 6,500 Superchargers at 908 stations.

Auto manufacturing is not the easiest thing, especially when moving from gas powered vehicles to electricity. But Tesla has been in the game long enough to work out issues with assembly and production while building its own giga factories that will also be used for mass batteries, another area that Tesla has been leading. 

Nonetheless, Saturday Night Live was an entertaining watch, especially for all those Musk fans who enjoy his dry and unconventional humor.