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Tesla's edge: 'It's the software, stupid.'
Posted on June 24, 2019 by Matt Pressman
After a storied career in the software sector, Lou Shipley now serves as a lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School. He happens to own both an Audi and a Tesla. Writing an opinion piece in The Hill, Shipley admits, "I was excited to take the Audi electric for a test drive."
Above: Electric cars require more than just a little ol' battery, it's all about the software (Reddit: kickerua)
However, he recalls, "My excitement was short-lived." Why? Audi's new EV, Shipley says, "drives okay, and although it has a much more limited range than a Tesla, it is — as advertised — a functioning electric automobile. What it decidedly is not is a Tesla. In fact, it isn’t within hailing distance of Tesla."
Echoing Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign catchphrase, "It’s the economy stupid," Shipley notes, "Traditional automakers need to realize that their long-term survival requires understanding that 'it’s the software, stupid.' Unless Tesla’s competitors fight software with software, they will fail."
Above: Lou Shipley talks Tesla (Youtube: MITSloan)
Shipley says, "The Audi electric’s software is non-intuitive and utterly impossible to use. Its user interface is a frustrating obstacle course. Audi simply doesn’t get it... In sharp contrast, Tesla is maniacal about its software."
"In fact, every few weeks, Tesla issues updates that add remarkable new features and capabilities. Simply put, Tesla’s fundamental — and winning — strategy is to differentiate its car through software," explains Shipley.
Shipley concludes that Elon Musk's Silicon Valley automaker continues to race ahead, "in the fast lane while the big brands lumber along." Meanwhile, "the important question to ask is will [the incumbents] design their electric cars based on an innovative software architecture such as the one that is driving Tesla's success," because, at the end of the day, "Tesla is a software car."
Source: The Hill