Tesla. Spearhead?

Tesla leads, competitors following | By Peteratkins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tesla leads, competitors following | By Peteratkins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

With Tesla’s reputation as the pioneering company of the electric car firmly established, attention has now turned to its competitors and what they can come up with to compete. The deadline day for conventional engined cars will inevitably arrive when oil eventually runs out. We will have no choice but to turn to alternate forms of energy.

The question is, will Tesla be there to spearhead that movement?

The car companies that we’re familiar with today; BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Jaguar and the rest were at one point condemned to failure in the near future by economists and industry experts. Their argument was that they weren’t keeping up with the rapid changes in technology, and weren’t meeting the targets for innovation with regards to electric automobiles.

Two years ago, this may have been true, but now it’s clear that Tesla isn’t as invincible as it once seemed, with all manufacturers with the exception of a certain few declaring their intent to go green and begin work on their very own fleet of electric vehicles.

Companies, such as Volvo have made this crystal clear. All new cars launched by the manufacturer beyond 2019 will be 100% electric, and between 2019-2021 it will unveil 5 pure electric cars, with the rest of its fleet being hybrid powered at the very least. Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo’s chief executive, confidently said: “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car”, with what the company called a “historic end” of the conventional car as we know it.

Volvo isn’t the only one, with the Nissan Leaf 2 being slated for release in 2018, Porsche mission E in 2020, Mercedes Generation EQ and a host of other major and minor makers showing off their shiny concepts for release in the next couple of years.

Will competition catch up to Elon Musk? | By Steve Jurvetson [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Will competition catch up to Elon Musk? | By Steve Jurvetson [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

With the upcoming Model 3, Tesla have finally belted out an industry grade machine that is targeted to the mass market. Whether Tesla produces for the Model 3’s 400,000 preorders or not, this rear-wheel-drive EV featuring at least 215 miles of range is (hopefully) a game-changer for the industry.

This leads us back to the original question. With the plethora of competition that Tesla now has, how will it fight back? The aforementioned companies are global powerhouses, with massive manufacturing infrastructure all over the world, and vast research and development resources that Tesla could only dream of possessing.

The answer is, on paper, at at least, no.

While they have an amazing CEO in Elon Musk and a frankly ingenious innovations department, they lack in pretty much everything else, and it’s not something that they’ll be able to correct overnight.

The fit and finish of a Tesla, especially that of a £80,000 Tesla, is embarrassing. Reports of panels with gaps and cracks, cheap-o plastic components, low grade tear-prone leather, and poor quality control in general, all point towards a manufacturer with ideas lacking execution.

Tesla also has big problems with how they sell their cars. You can’t just go to a dealership and buy a car. You have to order it, and for the most part, you order the car and in 2 to 8 months, you get it. That’s not how people want to buy a car. This type of business is a hallmark of a smaller company, with One plus, a relatively new phone company which originally launched its first two phones on an invites basis, not far from what Tesla is doing right now.

Sure, they have now developed as a company and now sell phones normally to mass markets, but where they’ve fallen is the hype that surrounded their releases in the early days. Tesla is no different, and in a sea full of sharks, it is a mere fish.

By the time hype surrounding Tesla predictably falls, the conventional manufacturers that have perfected their formula for car production over decades, and in some cases centuries will have responded to Tesla’s early innovations with competitive cars of their own. And when this happens, Tesla will find it very difficult to stay afloat.

But who am I to judge. Elon Musk, and Tesla as a whole have created an amazing company and in an astonishing time period, and I have… written this article and not much else.

Ultimately, the soul of Tesla is perfect. We need fearless innovators to drive our technological advances, and Tesla fits that brief. I hope Tesla succeeds and am rooting for it to spearhead our technological revolution. The competition it brings will be beneficial to everyone and I’m sure they aren’t going to disappear any time soon.

But, for sure, it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.