Tesla Motors is known for focusing on how to use cleaner, more sustainable energy for automobiles. As an independent electric vehicle (EV) company, producing cars that excel in both performance and sustainability is not an easy feat. With the intelligence and drive of CEO, Elon Musk at the helm, Tesla has been hard to compete with. Competitors often seem to miss the mark when going up against Tesla’s various EV models. Delivering a fully electric vehicle that still pulls out all the stops in terms of performance and utility has yet to be mastered by anyone besides Tesla. However, car companies big and small are making a valiant effort.
Tesla, America’s Breakthrough Car Company
Tesla, founded in 2003, officially became a car company when its first production vehicle, the Roadster, was unveiled to the public in 2006. Two years later, Elon Musk became the CEO of the company. By 2010, Tesla became the first American car company to go public since Ford did in 1956. While Tesla is a widely talked about company, it is relatively small, producing a limited volume of cars. Within a four year period, between 2008 and 2012, Tesla sold only 2,250 Roadster models, and has shipped a total of 100,000 cars over the course of its lifetime. Compare that to the U.S auto industry, who sold 17 million cars in 2015. Luxury automakers, including BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes, sold more than 340,000 cars each in 2015 according to Motor Authority.
Despite its small size, Tesla doesn’t need to be a mass-producing car company to remain successful. Tesla ranked in the top 20 on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2015 list for “pushing the limits of affordable battery power.” The company also ranked number one on Forbes’ World’s Most Innovative Companies list due to its “innovation premium,” with the expectation that Tesla will continue to develop profitable growth.
How Tesla Differs From Other Car Manufacturers
While Tesla did not invent the electric car, it does operate off a business model that is successful in bringing electric cars to the automotive market. Tesla differs in many ways from other car manufacturers. When Tesla got its start, it did not mass produce an affordable car. Instead, it developed a competitive, gasoline alternative luxury sports car. Rather than selling its vehicles through third party dealerships, Tesla sells directly to the consumer, creating a unique buying experience for the customer.
The company also has its own network of Supercharger stations where people can take their Tesla to charge up. Elon Musk believes that providing this convenience, and making them readily available, will truly help electric cars to catch on. The company’s mission to increase the availability of sustainable transportation excels with the introduction of its first energy product, Powerwall Home Battery, which stores solar energy at home.
Additionally, Tesla employs ‘Tesla Rangers,’ or mobile technicians, that are available to service a Tesla model from the customer’s home. Depending on the situation, a technician may not be necessary with the Model S. Technicians have the ability to fix certain issues remotely.
The Race to Keep Up With Tesla
While Tesla has been at the forefront of the electric vehicle industry for quite some time now, many other major car manufacturers are trying to keep up, especially once Tesla’s Model 3 was unveiled offering high volume at an affordable price. Chevy’s 2017 Bolt, offering a 200 mile range and an acceleration of 0-60 in less than 7 seconds competes with Tesla’s Model 3, which offers a 200 mile range and an acceleration of 0-60 seconds in less than 6 seconds. While the Bolt entered the market sooner than the Model 3, it lacks on providing drivers with a fast-charging infrastructure, which can be a deterrent to cross-country travelers. Other major manufacturers have introduced their own versions of the electric vehicle including Hyundai’s Ioniq EV, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV, and Ford Focus EV.
Most notably, what could be Tesla’s biggest competition is Jaguar’s I-PACE, introduced at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. Set to enter the market in 2018, Jaguar’s I-PACE is rumored to exceed the performance of Tesla. With a dramatic design, all wheel drive, and two electric motors, and an acceleration of 0-60 in four seconds, the I-PACE truly will give Tesla a run for its money.
Beyond major car companies, many startups have been impressed with Tesla’s success and have developed interest in the electric vehicle industry. Companies such as Faraday Future and Renovo Motors are among the startups with electric vehicles on their radars. Elon Musk has been able to keep Tesla alive, but several instances were touch and go for the company. It will be interesting to see if these EV startups have what it takes to keep up with Tesla.