Has Tesla Cleared the Way for Mercedes-Benz Electric Cars?

Has Tesla cleared the way for Mercedes-Benz electric cars?
Has Tesla cleared the way for Mercedes-Benz electric cars?

If we look at the electric car market today, there is no doubt that Tesla has been the front-runner, breaking down various barriers and investing billions of dollars. This is a company which continues to go from strength to strength, although the risk profile associated with the company has also increased Now, many are now starting to ask the question, "has Tesla cleared the way for competitors such as Mercedes-Benz, to attack the electric car market?"

 

What can we expect from Mercedes-Benz?

Mercedes-Benz is expected to use the success of the B-Class electric drive to push four new electric models which should hit the market by 2020. They indicate there will be two electric sedans and two electric SUVs, which will certainly grab the attention of those looking towards the luxury end of the market. The company has already put together a strong team, which it continues to strengthen, to attack the electric car market. But will this be enough to challenge the position of Tesla?

Selling on reputation

When Tesla Motors began, it had an array of physical challenges when it came to the electric car market, along with the challenge of building a reputation. The way Elon Musk managed to create the Tesla brand and associate it with perfection and innovation - set against the array of the traditional automobile manufacturers around the world, is a miracle to behold. It is easy to forget how difficult this has been and how much time and effort has been spent fighting the establishment while also trying to manage and grow a new business.

While Mercedes-Benz may not be associated with electric vehicles at this moment in time, there is no doubt that the industry is certainly moving in this direction. The likes of General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and other leading car manufacturers are unlikely to sit on the sidelines and let Tesla dictate future direction. These are companies which will be selling on reputation, although in reality the reputation of traditional automobile manufacturers has been tainted with the recent emissions scandal.

Is competition good for Tesla?

Speaking to experts in the electric car market, the general opinion on the ground seems to be that Tesla is so far ahead of its competitors that they will always be playing catch-up. When the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc. have vehicles which can guarantee 200 miles per full charge it is likely that Tesla will be upwards of 400 miles plus per charge. When you also take into account the mass-market production of the Tesla Model 3, by far and away the most successful pre-launch vehicle of recent times, it seems that Tesla actually thrives on competition.

Conclusion

It is great news for the electric car industry to see the likes of Mercedes-Benz putting time, money, and effort into the future of the electric car market. This is an industry which is still relatively young, and while Tesla is most certainly pulling away, there are many competitors trying to catch up. The fact that Tesla is able to concentrate on creating mass-market electric vehicles at affordable prices while also pushing the boundaries of technology is a testimony to the focus of Elon Musk.

It will be interesting to see who challenges Tesla Motors in the years ahead and whether Tesla can maintain this growing gulf between itself and the technology of competing companies.

Could Dyson Be the Next Tesla Motors?

dyson
dyson

British engineering firm Dyson is best known for its spoiling tactics and its world beating vacuum technology which has taken the industry by storm. While you may think that a move to electric vehicles is something of a rather large step, there have been rumours for some time now that the company is about to launch its own electric vehicle. This is not speculation any more, as the company has already acquired a battery technology company and promised to invest over £1 billion into battery technology. Dyson has also has received UK government funding. So, what's next?

New battery technology

It is believed that Dyson has access to new battery technology using solid-state batteries that significantly extend the current journey capacity of electric vehicles. This is a major step forward for the industry with the likes of Tesla and Nissan, to name two, investing significant amounts of money in battery technology. In conjunction with ongoing investment in electric car technology, we are now approaching a honeymoon period for the electric car industry, when all different types of technology should finally come together.

One issue which is often overlooked is the fact that only those who have yet to drive an electric vehicle have any real concerns about journey capacity. Those who have yet to sample this new form of transport seem to have predetermined ideas about what to expect, many of which are incorrect.

Is Dyson the new Tesla?

Sir James Dyson is not a man who takes his challenges lightly and when he decides to do something, more often than not, he is successful. The fact that the company is already involved in the creation of a new style of electric vehicle says everything. Even though Tesla, with the very impressive Elon Musk, has taken the industry by storm, there is certainly room for more innovative companies looking to the future.

Experts highlight three major factors going forward which are:

1) Low cost vehicles

2) Safety

3) High-energy density batteries

At the moment vehicle costs are still relatively high but on the way down, safety is certainly improving, and many believe that Dyson’s new battery technology is both safer and offers greater journey capacity than the majority available today. While critics will quite rightly point out the relatively high cost of electric vehicles, it is certainly on the way down and as popularity grows, mass production will further reduce this.

Even though Tesla Motors is leaps and bounds ahead of anybody else towards the innovative end of the electric car market, as shown by enormous preproduction sales of its Tesla Model 3, the company will not have the market to itself forever.

Watch this space

It is ironic that Dyson has many similar characteristics to Tesla Motors: with an ability to keep new projects under wraps, refuse to confirm or deny until the company is ready, and then come out in a blaze of glory. The very fact that Dyson is a British-based company, a dying breed in the technology sector, means that support will be available via the government and technology investors. Many forecast we will hear news of the company’s EV project sooner, rather than later, but until then speculation is rife.

Should Electric Vehicles Receive Financial Incentives?

Should electric vehicles receive financial incentives?
Should electric vehicles receive financial incentives?

Over the last few years we have seen a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles on roads around the world. Initially, many motorists were concerned about range capacity but these fears seem to be fading, especially amongst those who actually drive electric cars. As the industry moves towards critical mass some are now suggesting that the financial incentives should be reduced and eventually withdrawn.

Is this a fair comment or is there more to this than meets the eye?

Cost of oil

A number of experts have highlighted the considerable subsidies and financial investment that governments around the world make in the oil industry. We only have to look at the cost of protecting oil pipelines across the world, not to mention the often favourable tax incentives offered to oil companies. While the cost of gasoline/petrol varies enormously across the globe much of the cost to the end-user is made up of tax repaid into government coffers.

So while we see the price of oil moving upwards and downwards, many people do not seem to appreciate the massive financial burden the oil industry places upon each and every taxpayer around the world.

Is this a level playing field?

It is very easy to forget, but when gasoline/petrol vehicles first hit the mass market they would have attracted significant financial incentives offered to both companies and individuals. Indeed we only need to look at the so-called eco-friendly vehicles of today to see the financial incentives still offered to gasoline/petrol cars. So while the electric vehicle market may be receiving financial assistance from governments and taxpayers around the world, this is not the only industry to receive early stage investment from politicians.

There are signs that the financial incentives which were used to kickstart the electric vehicle market are now gradually being reduced. There is still enormous investment required for the electric vehicle market but as we saw with the Tesla Model 3 launch, there is very strong demand for electric cars.

Are electric vehicles here to stay?

History shows us that electric vehicles have emerged on the scene and then faded away due to lack of interest and investment. The situation today is very different because oil is not an endless commodity and we now need to look at long-term viable alternatives. When you also add in the enormous investment by governments around the world, not to mention consumers, we have gone well beyond the point of no return.

It was interesting to see some of the gasoline vehicle companies in the US supposedly getting together to launch an attack on Elon Musk and Tesla. If they don’t see Tesla, and electric vehicles, as a threat then there would have been no reason for them to come together and work to a common goal.

Conclusion

While many have criticised the significant financial incentives offered to companies and individuals in the electric vehicle sector, this perhaps overshadows the ongoing investment and tax incentives the oil industry enjoys. Slowly, but surely, electric vehicle financial incentives will fade away and eventually the industry will be left to stand on its own two feet. At this point it does look as though the traditional gasoline/petrol vehicles of today will eventually be overtaken by their modern day more efficient counterparts.

Have Hybrids Had Their Day as A Stepping Stone to Electric Vehicles?

Are electric cars really three times more efficient than gasoline vehicles?
Are electric cars really three times more efficient than gasoline vehicles?

A recent interview by Danish car designer Henrik Fisker, cast a very interesting light upon the hybrid market. The well-known car entrepreneur is making a comeback from bankruptcy and has been talking about his love of electric vehicles and his scepticism regarding hybrids. This will come as a surprise to many people who have seen hybrids as the natural steppingstone from gasoline/petrol vehicles towards their electric vehicle counterparts.

Are hybrids finished?

It is a little strange to see somebody with the reputation of Henrik Fisker suggesting that hybrids have had their day and are no longer the steppingstone to electric vehicles. However, if you take a step back and look at the situation from a distance, perhaps there are more reasons now to switch from gasoline/petrol vehicles straight to electric cars?

New technology

Electric vehicle technology is more advanced today than many experts had expected after coming to the fore at the turn-of-the-century. A mixture of technological breakthroughs, added funding from consumer demand, and government assistance, has created a perfect storm for the industry. This has allowed electric car manufacturers to increase journey capacity, improve reliability, and the issue of expensive battery packs is nowhere near the problem it has been in years gone by.

That is not to say that electric vehicle technology has been perfected or is anywhere near finished but enormous progress has been made of late and this is perhaps one reason why new converts to electric vehicles may well miss the steppingstone of hybrids.

Is government assistance the key?

While some may criticize governments around the world for their financial assistance to the electric car market let’s not forget that every other new technology in years gone by has received similar financial backing. The fact that electric vehicles are significantly more efficient than their gasoline/petrol counterparts together with the reduced impact on the environment perhaps justifies this significant expenditure. Also, let’s not forget that governments of the day will eventually see their investment returned, along with the creation of a long-term income stream as electric cars gain in popularity.

It will be interesting to see how long governments will look to support the industry and whether we eventually will see the introduction of an electric vehicle tax. Whatever the authorities say, they will need some form of return in the future and cannot afford to fund the industry forever. That said, when you take into account the subsidies offered to the oil industry around the world is that really a profitable sector?

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see how the electric vehicle/hybrid markets change in the forthcoming years because there is a perception that maybe customers are happy to switch from gasoline/petrol cars straight to electric vehicles. Historically, hybrid cars have been the more natural steppingstone and there are some extremely popular examples out there. However, there is certainly more confidence in the electric car market today, or at least a greater demand, but surely hybrids will be around for many years to come?

Car2go Warns of Inferior EV Charging Infrastructure

Remember, it wasn't always as quick at the gasoline station!
Remember, it wasn't always as quick at the gasoline station!

In 2011 the all electric car sharing company Car2go was launched in a blaze of glory; with a real determination to incorporate the car sharing industry with the all singing, all dancing, new electric car technology. There were really high hopes for the all electric angle, which made the company environmentally friendly as well as saving money for customers against the cost of traditional gasoline/petrol powered vehicles. So what has gone wrong?

Infrastructure shortfalls

The San Diego authorities, in tandem with the Department of Energy, promised that there would be 1000 electric car charging stations by 2012. Well, we’re now well into 2016 and there are only 400 charging stations in the San Diego region, with only 126 in the vicinity of the area Car2go covers. As a consequence, the company has announced plans to swap its all electric fleet for gasoline vehicles.

The company has also been forced to reduce its charging structure in the short term and it looks as though it is back to the drawing board for this environmentally friendly, groundbreaking group. Who is to blame?

Authorities fail to deliver

When you bear in mind the time, money, and effort put into the business by Car2go’s owners and employees, it is difficult not to have any sympathy. Electric car companies have on the whole tried to work with their local authorities to introduce these environmentally friendly vehicles and grow the electric car charging infrastructure. It is unfortunate to say the least that the authorities have failed to deliver on their side of the bargain and this could have serious repercussions for the industry in the short to medium term.

Aside from the financial cost the failure to provide the charging stations has dented the confidence which investors and businesses had in local authorities across America; let’s not forget that the Obama government has invested billions of dollars into the electric car industry with more to follow. Has there been some misunderstanding between the San Diego authorities and the Department of Energy? Is there a lack of funding? Nobody knows at this moment in time.

Does this show the main weakness of EVs?

Many people have pointed to the recharging infrastructure as the potential "weak link" in the evolution of the electric vehicle. In a typical, "what came first? the chicken or the egg scenario," it seems that investment in the infrastructure required has not been sufficient. We can only hope that this particular episode with Car2go, which has certainly caught the headlines, will prompt local authorities up and down the U.S. to be more focused in their development of the EV charging infrastructure.

It is not all doom and gloom however because we look at other countries which have been far more successful. In Norway, they are targeting 100% electric vehicle use on the roads in less than a decade! So yes, this is a short-term disappointment for the electric vehicle industry but hopefully it will spur local authorities and governments to up their game. They have sold the concept of electric vehicles to the general public and now they need to step up to the mark with regards to the charging infrastructure.