Anyone can design the car of the future—but you have to be a little bit messianic to actually get it on the road. Attempts by Preston Tucker in 1948 and John DeLorean in 1975 did not exactly end in glory. Inventive financing left Tucker charged with fraud (he was later acquitted) and DeLorean with cocaine trafficking (he too was acquitted—after he spent 11 days in jail).
Yet at the dawn of the 21st century, sick of watching ice caps melt while Detroit dragged its heels, Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk and veteran car designer Henrik Fisker bravely entered this risky business. Their respective companies, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, aim to make beautiful, high-performance electric cars. Cars for people like themselves—residents of Bel Air or Newport Beach, Calif., who once parked a McLaren or a Ferrari or a Maserati next to the Prius in their driveways. Let soccer moms buy Civic Hybrids, the battery-powered Mini E or—in a year or two—a plug-in like the Chevy Volt. Musk and Fisker would make chariots for the gentry—cars once believed impossible: red-hot and green. [wsj.com]