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Tesla’s Elon Musk is No. 8 on the Recode 100.

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The cult of Elon Musk lives on

Musk is No. 8 on the Recode 100.

By most measures, Elon Musk has had a busy year.

Musk — the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company, the chairman of OpenAI and a co-founder of Neuralink — wants to build cars, trucks, tunnels and rockets. He wants to colonize Mars, save the environment and find a solution for pesky Los Angeles traffic.

He is nothing if not ambitious.

Musk has a way to go before he can say he’s fulfilled many of those ambitions, but this year he’s accomplished some considerable feats in pursuit of those goals.

The always-blunt tech CEO made history when SpaceX relaunched a used rocket in March 2017. The company has worked to build reusable rockets for over five years, with the intention of bringing down the costs of space travel. Musk, who is eyeing 2022 for SpaceX’s first cargo mission to Mars, says colonizing the red planet will help to avoid human extinction in the case of a doomsday event.

“History is going to bifurcate along two directions,” Musk has said when discussing his plans to colonize Mars. “One path is we stay on Earth forever and there will be some eventual extinction event. Eventually history suggests there will be some doomsday event. The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilization and a multi-planet species.”

Back on Earth, however, Musk is working to save the environment in spite of what he believes is the certain eventuality of a doomsday event. While Tesla has hit a few bumps this year — what with its production delays, recent mass firings for performance-related issues and its skyrocketing financial losses — the car company has taken the first steps in fulfilling the last leg of Musk’s first master plan to help save the environment.

The goal was to accelerate the transition from a carbon-powered economy to a solar- and electric-powered one. The plan: Build a sports car, use that money to build an affordable car, use that money to build even more affordable cars and provide zero-emission electric power generation options. Oh, and don’t tell anyone about this top-secret list.

In August, the electric vehicle manufacturer began production of its first-ever mass market car, the Model 3. And while production of the Model 3, one of the biggest tests of the manufacturer’s capabilities to date, has not been without its roadblocks, it’s still a big moment for the EV industry.

What’s notable is Musk started Tesla with the mission of proliferating electric vehicles en masse at a time when there was little demand for them.

Tesla has since stoked an increasing demand for electric-powered cars. Though it still makes up just a small fraction of the U.S. car market. As of December 2016 there were 542,000 electric cars sold in the country, according to data provided by EV charger network ChargePoint.

But with upward of 400,000 preorders for the Model 3, Tesla could eventually help double the number of electric cars on the road in the U.S.

Beyond the Model 3 and SpaceX, the list of new projects Musk unveiled or began this year is long — underground hyperloops, electric trucks, a new roadster — and the goals he is attempting to meet in the next few years are lofty.

Yet, in spite of some of his past struggles meeting deadlines that he’s set for himself, you’d be hard-pressed to find people who will doubt the words of the PayPal co-founder.

Few can match, by his own admission, Musk’s cult-like following. Tesla owners and casual observers alike hang on his every word with a sense of sheer admiration and awe. No matter how overly ambitious Musk’s goals may seem, his followers believe he can meet them.

To some, he’s even something of a messiah. At a recent unveiling of Tesla solar panels, an audience member yelled, “Save us, Elon.” To these people, salvation lies at the feet of Musk.

This article originally appeared on

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