German Car Makers in No Rush to Catch Up to Tesla
(p. A7) When Elon Musk rolled out the new Tesla Model X at the end of September , some grumbled that the Silicon Valley car maker's all-electric luxury crossover was coming to market two years too late. It depends on who you ask. The Big Three German auto makers only wish they could catch the tail of Mr. Musk's rocket.
I'm not talking about units sold, though Tesla's target of 50,000 cars in 2015 is a respectable chunk of the global luxury-sedan market. But Tesla has taken more hide off German prestige and sense of technical primacy. I mean, the Model X was just rubbing their noses in it with those "falcon" doors, right? In executive interviews at the Frankfurt Auto Show any praise of Tesla was guaranteed to land on the table like a paternity suit.
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I wonder if any traditional auto maker whose existence does not hang in the balance can ever have enough belly for the EV long game?
Even if the Germans had market-bound EVs in mass quantities, there is the concurrent problem of charging. As the estimable John Voelcker of Green Car Reports notes, the luxury incumbents have no plans to challenge Tesla on charging availability. Tesla has hundreds of charging stations in the U.S. and Europe and plans for hundreds more--all free to owners.
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I am struck by the lag time. This isn't about profit and loss but industry leadership. The Germans are headed where Tesla already is and, taking Frankfurt as the measure, they are in no great hurry to get there.
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(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 8, 2015.)