Tesla has proven to be one of the most innovative forces in the electric vehicle (EV) market to date. The company went public in 2010, the first car company to do so since Ford Motor Company in 1956. Since then, Tesla has focused on taking a pioneering approach to electric car development. The business was established in July 2003 by entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. After they took the start-up enterprise into Series A financing in 2004, Elon Musk officially joined the business and became Chairman of Tesla’s board. There is no doubt that Musk has injected significant finance into the company but he was not actually a founding member, as many believe.
Tesla is a big name in electric vehicles, although it faces far more competition today. Despite the company’s significance and continuous impact on EV technology, figures obtained by Forbes show that in the first quarter of 2017, they only sold 25,000 cars. In comparison, the less prominent Renault-Nissan Alliance sold 37,000 electric vehicles. The same figures show that Tesla also appears to be falling behind in historic models, with the “old” Nissan Leaf currently outselling the “old” Tesla Model S.
Based on sales figures, Tesla is losing out to the Renault-Nissan Alliance. However, the EV sector is growing at speed, and increasing numbers of manufacturers are looking to capture a chunk of a potentially lucrative market. Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson surprised the car world last year when it announced that from 2019, all of its cars will be electrified. This means that the whole line-up will employ an electric motor – incorporated in a gasoline-hybrid (PHEV) or a battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV).
Another manufacturer taking strides is Chinese car startup Byton, who recently presented a futuristic electric SUV to rival Tesla’s vehicles. The electric car, unveiled in January 2018, features high-speed 5G connectivity for streaming, seat sensors able to detect the driver’s weight and heart rate. This is just one example of the expanding Chinese market for EVs, which is growing in part due to strict emission standards, driving both manufacturers and consumers towards more environmentally friendly vehicles.
EV collaborations also seem to be making an impact, with Porsche and Audi planning a shared electric car platform. This platform will be separate from their existing EV development projects. Instead, it will be a standalone way to launch electric cars that have been developed independently. The joint effort will have a combined workforce of 800 and will provide the foundation for multiple EV models beginning in 2021.
More broadly, the Volkswagen Group is currently making huge investments in EV development. By 2030, the automotive giant is planning to have all-electric or hybrid versions of every model across every one of their brands.
There are a number of other competitor launches approaching, including the Jaguar iPace (July 2018), the Nissan Leaf (Oct 2018) and the Hyundai Nexo (Dec 2018).
In a bold PR move, the company recently sent one of its cars into space, despite a 50/50 chance of executing the idea successfully. The Tesla Roadster launched on top of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy in February of 2018. Tesla also unveiled a “ridiculously fast” roadster last year, with the longest range in EV history. Vehicle development is where Tesla stays ahead of their competition – their models continue to go further and faster than any other EV manufacturer. In 2017, Tesla added a new battery option in The Tesla Model S 100D. It has an EPA-rated range of 335 miles on a full charge, making it the longest-range consumer electric vehicle in the world.
In November 2017, Tesla also showcased their first electric semi-truck, with Elon Musk declaring diesel trucks are now “economic suicide.” He may have compared the sleek, high-tech looking vehicle to a character from the Transformers series, but the impressive features are very real. In comparison to diesel trucks, the ownership costs will be 20% less per mile, the acceleration will be faster, and the uphill performance will be better. In typical Musk theatrics, the truck’s windshield also boasts “thermonuclear explosion-proof glass”.
So, Tesla is still the one to watch in terms of brand image. It remains to be seen how they will compare with the wave of competition on the horizon, but for now, they continue to be one of the leading names in the EV industry.