What are the top auto execs saying about Tesla?
Big Auto's top executives have a long history of downplaying Tesla. But the tide may be turning. With the impressive success of Tesla's Model 3, top execs are beginning to show the Silicon Valley automaker some long-deserved respect.
Cheddar visited the LA Auto Show and spoke with a number of top executives to get their feedback on Tesla. According to Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations, Tesla has inspired his team "to look at ourselves to see if there are unmet needs of customers so that we can innovate our process."
Stephan Winkelmann, president of Bugatti Automobiles adds, "Tesla was innovative, and they pushed the car industry in one direction." Anthony Foulk, the senior product manager at Audi of America agrees, "They have definitely pushed the entire auto industry forward."
Above: Speaking with auto execs at the LA Auto Show, Cheddar's Hope King and Tamara Warren discuss Tesla's impact on the industry (Twitter: Hope King)
When considering Tesla, Derrick Hatami, the executive vice president of sales and marketing at Volkswagen of America notes, "It has presented an interesting window into what the possibilities could be for electric vehicles... something to look at and aim for."
Green Car Reports also sat down with Hatami's boss, Scott Keogh. VW's new U.S. CEO recalls being in meetings with executives and dealers who’ve said that "this Tesla thing’s a joke." Keogh, on the other hand, is not so quick to dismiss the company's new Model 3. "And then lo and behold, it probably will be—because we’re not far away now—the best-selling car in America," says Keogh, with no dealer network, no advertising, and none of the tools that the industry is used to.
Above: A look at Tesla's company-owned stores often placed in unconventional locations like shopping malls (Source: REP)
Los Angeles Times spoke with Porsche North America chief executive Klaus Zellmer who adds, "If you look at what Tesla has done, if you look at their volume and look at their price level, it’s truly astonishing. If you can do that with one brand and a sales network that is not comprised of dealers and a real sales organization, it’s even more astonishing."