Despite the fact that the likes of General Motors, Nissan, Volkswagen and BMW are now more high profile in the EV market than ever before, there is a growing concern amongst competitors that Tesla has been given too much of a head start. This week we saw General Motors follow Volkswagen's announcement that it intends to be the number one in the EV sector going forward, despite the fact that Tesla is perhaps the best-known pure electric vehicle manufacturer of the moment.
If we look back just six months there was very little in the way of positive PR from the likes of GM, Nissan, etc., and this was left down to Elon Musk and his colleagues at Tesla Motors. So, have other EV companies given Tesla too much of a head start?
Going against the grain
If there is one company in the EV market that does things "its own way" it has to be Tesla, with an array of high-profile spats and new sales policies and vehicles which push the boundaries of the EV industry. While high-profile competitors such as those listed above tend to go for the more traditional routes to market, it is perhaps this willingness to go that extra mile, and do things differently, which has given Tesla so much of a head start in the EV industry.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "If you look at the popular press you will see that the vast majority of electric vehicle manufacturers in the US have a significant presence in California. The reason for this is that California legally obliges car manufacturers to ensure that 10% of their sales are electric vehicles."
The fact is that Tesla is not going to change its way, competitors will have to follow and inevitably we will see direct sales of electric vehicles in the US in the longer term. Tesla is more than happy to put in place an array of regional offices which will act as a support network for those requiring Tesla vehicles direct from the company. While politicians have put this particular plan on hold for the moment, with an enormous backlash from the dealerships, there is no doubt that the public are very much in favour of this.
Talk is cheap
It would be wrong to suggest that Tesla has made no mistakes in its quest to be number one in the electric vehicle market but the company very rarely suggests ideas and cars for the future without knowing it can deliver. This is something the likes of General Motors will need to learn pretty quickly: the EV enthusiast of today is not very forgiving in the event of delays in the delivery of new models and new technology.
Elon Musk has had to battle the "establishment" to get where he is today and while it has made him a multi-billionaire he is unlikely to take his foot off the gas. He has promised an affordable electric vehicle by 2017, in the price range of $30,000 - $40,000, with a journey capacity per full charge of 200 miles. Will he deliver?
In the early days the major traditional vehicle manufacturers saw Tesla as something of a young upstart trying to cause mayhem in the market, but a company which would eventually fade away and die. While other similar ventures have suffered financial distress, left the market or been taken over, Tesla has gone from strength to strength and perhaps now the major automobile manufacturers are ruing the day they let the company get too far ahead?