Will ICE Automakers ‘Copy’ Tesla to Be Successful?


Oct. 9 2019, Updated 12:53 p.m. ET

  • Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk frequently mock ICE automakers for being slow in vehicle electrification. Now, established automakers are aggressively targeting the electric vehicle space.
  • Some ICE automakers might even be following the company’s strategies to become successful. However, will this strategy help them?
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Tesla versus ICE automakers

On Monday, Electrek reported that Ford (F) released its new charging station for the Lincoln brand. The charging station looks similar to Tesla’s (TSLA) Superchargers. Earlier this year, Ford released the prototype video for its F-150 all-electric pickup truck. The model would compete with Tesla’s upcoming pickup truck. The prototype video showed that the model’s towing capacity is much higher than Tesla’s upcoming pickup.

If the Lincoln charging station looks similar to Tesla’s Superchargers, it isn’t an isolated incident. Since Tesla has established itself as the gold standard for electric cars, ICE (internal combustion engine) automakers have every reason to follow the company. Will reverse engineering make ICE automakers successful? We’ll discuss how established automakers might be following the company’s strategy.

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Volvo’s Polestar 2

Last week, Volvo announced the pricing for Polestar 2. The model’s pricing is competitive with Model 3. Volvo said that the model competes with Model 3. From the focus on software to an online sales strategy, there are several similarities between the two companies. Read Could Following Tesla Bring Success for the Polestar 2? to learn more.

Porsche is working on electric vehicles that would have a range of 1,000 kilometers or roughly 620 miles. Tesla is already working on that functionality. Rivals already admire the company’s battery and software capabilities. Established automakers are raising their game in both of these aspects. Incidentally, General Motors (GM) is launching Chevy Bolt 2020. The model’s range is slightly higher than the Model 3 base model.

What to expect from automakers

Can ICE automakers copy Tesla’s success? First, success is a subjective aspect. For Tesla baiters, the company is a losing venture due to its perennial loses. We’ll define success as growth in deliveries, brand recognition, and market share. Model 3 has helped the company increase its deliveries significantly. Achieving profitability in electric vehicles is a conundrum for the broader electric vehicle industry.

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Why is Tesla successful?

What makes Tesla the first choice for many electric vehicle buyers is its electric brand. In contrast, ICE automakers still focus on gasoline. The company’s battery capacity and charging infrastructure are better than its competitors. Also, the software is way better than most of the gasoline cars. The company even offers a premium driving experience for its budget Model 3. Even the “budget” Model 3 costs way more than similar ICE cars. Electric cars cost more than comparable gasoline cars.

In our view, there’s nothing wrong with established automakers taking a leaf out of Tesla’s book. Although Ford’s charging stations are similar to Tesla’s stations, are they as efficient as Superchargers? Established automakers might need to step up their game in the electric vehicle space. Copying Tesla’s success might be a starting point.

Correction: The text was updated to clarify that the 2020 Chevy Bolt’s range is slightly higher than the Model 3 base model.


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