Tesla Motors - Shaking the Auto Industry from its slumber

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Tesla Motors - Shaking the Auto Industry from its slumber

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Another upgrade to the Model S.   In its 4th year and its unimaginable how different the Model S is with all the upgrades.  ICE Auto makers just cannot cope with Tesla's innovations.

Tesla was never meant to be a typical car company. Musk has stated pretty explicitly from the very beginning of the company that his primary purpose was not to line his pockets with money but to break personal transportation away from the stranglehold of fossil fuels and advance the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in general. Everything Tesla has done has been in service of that final goal. Instead of sitting on their hands attempting to maximize profits over time with economies of scale based on selling an unchanging, outdated vehicle for several years in a row, they built a highly adaptable production line and kept updating the hardware and software every year. This accomplishes a number of things.

For one, it continues to crank up the pressure on other car companies to play catch-up as Tesla's vehicles get incrementally better each year. For another, it keeps Tesla in the news for free publicity. Each update makes people take a another look at other car companies, and make new comparisons as the Model S outclasses more and more high-end luxury vehicles and ICE sports cars that cost far more than even the most expensive vehicles Tesla offers. Every time a new, incrementally-improved Tesla rolls off the line, it makes the CEOs of other car companies send out a memo about moving up the timetable for bringing out their own EVs and hybrids, because Tesla keeps eating more of their market share (and mind share).

They used to just laugh at Tesla, but that laughter is getting quieter and more hesitant every year.

The 100kWh battery in particular is an important psychological milestone, not only because it's a nice round number (people looooove nice round numbers) but also because it's finally pushed the legitimate range of the vehicle beyond 300 miles (another nice round "hundred" number). This is something that can be thrown in the face of every person who's been resisting EVs by saying they won't even consider one until they can get one with "300 miles of range". Well, here it is, if they can afford it. And many can, despite all the whining that Teslas are only for the rich. There are plenty of upper-middle-class professionals who will be eyeballing the P100D when they didn't give the P85 or even the P90 too much thought. Yes, there will still be tons of people who will continue to wait until they see an EV with 350 miles of range, or 400, or 450, but now all the ones that were more reasonably waiting for 300 have something to look at.

Contrast Tesla's behavior over the last few years with, say, Nissan. The Leaf is a nice little car. Really nice, and lots of owners love it in the USA and Europe. But besides a couple of small battery updates and other very minor tweaks, Nissan has been selling basically the exact same vehicle for half a decade now. And we have no idea when the next-gen Leaf will finally come out. Will it be 2017, or 2018? Nissan did put out a pure EV, but they are still acting like a traditional car company, attempting to squeeze as much profit as possible out of the same production vehicle over the long term.

And back in India, The case of the Mahindra e2o is very similar.  Its been 3 and half years and there has been virtually no upgrades, no attention grabbing news on any new versions of the car.  While Mr Chetan Maini was incharge, atleast we could hope for speed of action and constant innovations.  But since Mahindra booted him out, there has been nothing.  Again Mahindra is behaving like a like a traditional car company, attempting to squeeze as much profit as possible out of the same production vehicle over the long term..

Tesla, meanwhile, is doing everything it can to at least give us the impression that they are behind this whole EV revolution 110%, pedal-to-the-metal, and that's why Tesla was able to inspire 400,000 people to put down a deposit on a Model 3 practically sight-unseen. Coming out with the P100D is all just part of the same strategy Musk has been using since before the first Roadsters rolled off the production line. It's both amusing and sad to me that so many people don't get that this is exactly why Tesla fans are so enthusiastic.

Tesla, to very loosely paraphrase Bob Lutz (former GM head), is the crowbar that continues to move the entire car industry, creaking and groaning, toward the inevitability of the electrification of personal transportation. They aren't interested in doing it by resting on their laurels and letting everyone else catch up and pass them at a leisurely pace.

This is also why very few people really care that much that it will take at least three years to get their hands on their Model 3. Because they put that deposit down not just to get their hands on a Model 3 but to support a company they believe in. That is something money cannot buy.