Tesla: Are Peers Losing the Electric Vehicle Race?

Tesla (TSLA) and CEO Elon Musk have a long history of slamming legacy automakers. Over the last month, the company mocked established automakers.

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author

Sep. 6 2019, Published 7:30 a.m. ET

  • Over the last month, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have criticized gasoline cars several times. Notably, legacy automakers like General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, and Porsche have raised their game in the electric vehicle space.
  • Porsche launched its Taycan, which has reportedly received 30,000 pre-orders. Volkswagen’s special edition ID.3 Model fully sold-off during the pre-sale. General Motors has the Chevy Bolt 2020, while Ford is launching a fully electric F-150.
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Tesla and Elon Musk

Tesla (TSLA) and CEO Elon Musk have a long history of slamming legacy automakers. Over the last month, the company mocked established automakers several times. The company usually takes shots at internal combustion engine cars in general. Lately, Tesla has taken direct and subtle shots at automakers.

On Thursday, Musk tweeted, “Um @Porsche, this word Turbo does not mean what you think it does.” Incidentally, his tweet came two days after Porsche launched its all-electric Taycan. The Taycan was seen as a competitor to Tesla’s Model S. However, Taycan’s price is much higher than Tesla’s Model S. Taycan also has a lower range. Meanwhile, Porsche reportedly booked 30,000 pre-orders for Taycan.


In a somewhat subtle remark, Musk targeted automakers like Volkswagen for the diesel gate scandal. He chastised automakers for cheating on emission checks. The tweet was an apparent sarcastic comment aimed at Volkswagen. Notably, the tweet came close to Volkswagen’s ID.3. CNBC reported that Volkswagen has completely sold its fully electric ID.3 limited edition. However, the company only has 30,000 pre-orders, which pales compared to Tesla’s Model 3 pre-orders.

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Automakers’ electric plans

Legacy automakers have raised their bets in the electric vehicle space. Jaguar and Audi have models to take on Tesla’s electric cars. General Motors (GM) tried its luck with the Chevy Bolt. So far, none of the automakers have been able to dent Tesla’s dominance in the US electric car market. Now, automakers are launching their best-selling cars’ all-electric models. For example, Ford (F) is launching an all-electric F-150. The company released a prototype video in July.

Tesla and Musk take the fight head-on

Meanwhile, Tesla and Musk have taken the fight head-on with legacy automakers. Tesla’s current sales volumes are still a fraction of established automakers’ shipments. At the upper end of the guidance, Tesla aims to sell 400,000 cars this year. However, the company’s car sales have been growing at a brisk pace even though global car sales have stalled. Meanwhile, the honeymoon period for electric vehicles might be ending. In July, global electric car sales fell on a yearly basis. China’s electric vehicle sales also fell on a yearly basis for the first time in two years. NIO (NIO), hailed as the “Tesla-killer,” also reported dismal July shipments.

Do automakers have a game plan?

Currently, established automakers don’t seem to have a sound game plan to contain Tesla’s rise. For a consumer, a Tesla car is a package deal. The car offers a high range, a great driving experience, a reasonable price, Autopilot, and a Supercharger infrastructure. The car is a mix of quality hardware and software. However, the company’s post-sales service might not be on par with legacy automakers. Established automakers might also need to offer a similar package to consumers to boost their electric vehicle sales.


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