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Tyler Cowen

The New Tesla Is Great, But It Isn't Progress

Too many of today's innovations are focused on solving problems rather than creating something new.
It is a nice looking car.

It is a nice looking car.

Photographer: Troy Harvey/Bloomberg

Tesla Inc.’s new electric car has debuted to rave reviews; one writer called it “the most important car in the world right now.” In general, the commentary on the Model 3 has suggested the product delivers on its promise. Solar panels are falling exponentially in price, and there are periodic bursts of good news on the quest to develop a more durable and cost-effective battery. All of these developments would boost the prospects of green energy.

You might think the U.S. productivity slowdown is finally ending, but unfortunately the news isn’t as good as it first seems. Instead, we are specializing in a new and sadly necessary practice of what I call “defensive innovation.”