Can Tesla put millennials in the driver’s seat?

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has a method to his madness, according to Bloomberg columnist Edward Niedermeyer.

In his latest grab for public attention, Musk suggested that the company might open their patents, in effect making their innovative vehicles more open source.

While auto industry traditionalists scoff at Tesla’s low sales, “its ‘mind share’ exceeds that of the biggest players, and Musk is by far America’s best-known car executive,” Niedermeyer wrote in a column that appeared in the Detroit News.

And among the “millennials” who represent one of the biggest challenges facing the future of the American auto industry, “mind share” matters. Millennials are driving less and buying fewer cars than older generations.

“Now, with all eyes and investments fixed on Silicon Valley, characters such as Musk and Google’s Sergey Brin are re-injecting the car with creativity and personality the industry has been silently hemorrhaging for decades,” says Niedermeyer. “Musk’s Tesla is a throwback to the days when small luxury brands, often named after the men who ruled them, made stunning vehicles in tiny quantities to their monomaniacal owner’s exacting specifications.”

That’s one way of looking at the challenge, of course.

But we prefer to think that when millennials do get around to buying cars, they’ll be drawn to the increasing wide-range of technologically advanced, environmentally conscious electric vehicles now coming onto the market, which Musk says is his rationale for sharing Tesla’s patents.  

And of course, we’ll continue to root for more of those vehicles to be Built by Michigan.