Posted on September 06, 2016 by Matt Pressman
As Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] continues to lead both the U.S. and European markets in large luxury auto sales with its Model S — beating the German carmakers at their own game — executives from these car companies are beginning to publicly express envy and jealousy. Automotive News* reports, "Tesla's zero-emissions sports sedan has made Europe's finest automakers look woefully behind the times... [and] one of the mistakes many German car executives have made in recent years is believing that Tesla is an electric car brand. If that were the case they would have a strong chance to conquest sales back from [Elon] Musk once they brought their own versions to market."
Above: Tesla Model S outsells German competition (Image: Car Magazine UK)
But, that's clearly not the case: "Tesla is far more than that. It builds battery packs, installs charging infrastructure and most recently plans to integrate energy generation and storage via an acquisition of Musk's photovoltaic company SolarCity. In the future it plans to expand into electric pickup trucks and even tractor-trailers. Musk has built something of a theology around Tesla... you cannot fight it because it's a way of life, not a product."
Above: Tesla has established more than a car company, it's established a lifestyle (Image: InsideEvs via Tesla)
Meanwhile, in Germany, for all their flashy, over-hyped concept cars and press releases about a future all-electric car, competitors have yet to introduce a viable electric vehicle to directly compete with Tesla. Case in point — Porsche Mission E which is, "Porsche's 1 billion euro ($1.12 billion) gamble to lure Tesla owners from their beloved electric car [and] is just one example of how much premium European automakers are investing to try and match their Silicon Valley-based rival... Porsche, however, will need years before it can mass produce and sell its electric sports car."
Above: Porche Mission E Concept Car (Image: Creative Crash)
"I wish we had put that car on the road and not Tesla," confided a senior engineer at Porsche. And it's not just Porsche. Other envious comments have surfaced. "Part of it is a cultural issue," said a Mercedes-Benz official who asked to remain anonymous. "You can't compare a 130-year-old company shaped by German engineering ingenuity with a startup from Silicon Valley. It's a different approach." And other auto executives have taken direct shots, for instance, at Tesla's industry-leading Autopilot, "Where's the added value for the customer?" asks Klaus Verweyen, Audi's project chief for fully piloted driving, which will debut in a limited form next year in the revamped A8.
Above: Tesla surpasses Audi's self-driving features (Image: Appy Geeky)
Automotive News reports: "Speak to other developers in Germany and the same healthy respect mixed with a dose of jealousy can be heard." But in certain markets, that respect can turn into bitterness. Electrek reports that Tesla sales in Hong Kong, "dominates the electric vehicle market in the global city with a 80% market share of Hong Kong’s 5,800 EVs as of this July. A 60-fold increase in electric vehicles, mostly all-electric, since 2010. Germany now says that the local government is playing favorite and it wants to dislodge Tesla as the leading electric vehicle brand in Hong Kong."
Above: Tesla dominates the Hong Kong electric car market (Youtube: Tesla)
Trying to lobby for incentives to include gas-powered plug-in hybrids, the German Consul General in Hong Kong, Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff commented, "In the end it should be the consumer that should decide who is successful in the market and who is not. But the government has to set the right framework.” Kevin Coon, vice-president of BMW Group’s Hong Kong, added that the fact that plug-in hybrids are not included “isn’t much of a level playing field”. Additionally, the European Chamber of Commerce Automotive Council has written to Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department to lobby for waivers for plug-in hybrids.
Above: Tesla outshines German competitors (Image: Car Magazine UK)
Nevertheless, Automotive News concludes that eventually gas-powered plug-in hybrids will fade and, "More electric vehicles will undoubtedly follow as European Union regulators crack down on road transport emissions, announcing early next year stringent new carbon dioxide targets for the period after 2021. Carmakers have no choice but to electrify their powertrains... Meanwhile, Tesla will continue to deliver tens of thousands of its vaunted sedans and SUVs every year."
*Source: Automotive News