Tesla alloy wheels

Tesla is one of the most successful car companies ever — depending on how you measure. At a recent annual meeting, CEO Elon Musk revealed how the company has claimed an impressive record of resilience in a short space of time.

“In the history of the American auto industry, it’s always worth bearing in mind that only two have not gone bankrupt, and that’s Ford and Tesla,” Musk told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. “It’s insanely hard just staying alive, I just want to be clear, it’s really difficult.”

The company has faced criticism from analysts. Goldman Sachs warned investors that Tesla’s plan to mass produce the Model 3 would stumble, reaching 1,400 cars per week for the quarter and requiring the firm to raise capital to continue. Musk mocked these criticisms in an April Fool’s tweet that showed the CEO spread out in the sun after “bankruptcy”:

It’s also important to note though that, while Tesla’s claim may be true, it’s a relatively young firm that has yet to bear the full brunt of a recession. Tesla launched its first car, the $108,000 Roadster, in limited quantities in 2008. It wasn’t until Model S was introduced in 2012 that the company started attracting more price-sensitive segments of the market.

It was during the late-2000s recession that many former brands bit the dust. Big names like Pontiac, Suzuki, Hummer and Saab failed to weather the storm. While some like Dale only lasted a year, there’s a number of established big-name firms that didn’t see the other side of a tough period in its history.

Musk noted the company’s dedication to providing top quality vehicles, an approach that could help maintain customer loyalty and enable it to work through future difficult periods.

This is going to sound maybe a little cheesy, but as Tesla, we build our cars with love,” Musk said. “We really care. A lot of other companies, they’re built by the marketing department, the finance department, there’s no soul.”