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Published on July 21st, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


Tesla Could Be Big Disruptor, Says GM – No Kidding

July 21st, 2013 by  

This article originally published on Gas2
by Christopher DeMorro


General Motors is a company that represents both the endless possibilities of automotive technology, and the “old guard” that often seems just behind of trends in innovation. Under the reign of CEO Dan Akerson, GM is being proactive, and a small team of analysts has been assigned to study market “disrupter” Tesla Motors to see how it might affect GM’s business.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, vice chairman of GM Steve Girsky said that Akerson thinks “…Tesla could be a big disrupter if we’re not careful.” Girsky rightly notes that history is full of companies that failed to innovate and were ultimately wiped out by upstarts like Tesla. Kodak, which ignored digital photography until it was too late, is one such company.

Akerson had made his disdain for GM’s corporate culture well known, and he is pushing his engineers to develop and patent technologies customers will actually pay for. GM has come up with some truly innovative and great ideas, but many of them never go beyond the drawing board or concept. One such idea is the hydrogen “skateboard” chassis that debuted in 2002. Tesla Motors took that same idea and applied it to its electric vehicles, allowing the Tesla Model S chassis to underpin next-gen vehicles like the Model X SUV.

In fact, Tesla Motors has managed to take a product many people wrote off as too expensive and limited, the electric car, and built a car company from the ground up. Grisky notes that if you ignore a company like Tesla, it has the possibility of taking a goliath like GM unawares. The Tesla Model S has outsold the Chevy Volt by a wide margin, which probably has some alarm bells ringing at GM, and Akerson is right to be concerned with Tesla’s ability to disrupt the old guard. Plans to cut the Volt’s price by up to $10,000 will help.

There are plenty of lessons Akerson and GM can learn from Tesla, but this feels a bit like an old man listening to rap music in a bid to become “hip” and better relate to his grandchildren. Things could get… awkward.

Source: Bloomberg News

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  • Jefftheman

    Just saw a group of people standing around their Tesla S which ran out of power on a major highway…what a joke…nerd novelty that’s all! It’s all about hybrid gas or diesel and electric…battery is a short lived fad!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Why do I not believe you?

      Someone with a $60k+ car is going to not charge up when their car tells them it’s time?

      But if you believe that BEVs are a short lived fad be sure to invest your retirement money selling them short….

    • sambar

      What you saw was a Tesla that another driver pulled over to have a look at.
      Amazing that driving by, you could tell it was out of power.

      • Matt

        It like when I had a first year Buell, I got pulled over 8-12 times that year and never a ticket. Was I driving wild or did someone want to check out the Buell. A lot of 1-2 over the limit “warnings”.

    • Yes, I’m sure. Happen to snap a photo of that? Paid to troll around and drop such comments? “Group of people” — you think a group of people set out on a long trip in a Model S and didn’t think to charge up enough or go charge up when the dashboard told them to do so?

      How big was the group? Perhaps some folks wanted to have a closer look at the Model S and the driver pulled over for them.

  • Others

    10 big automakers, no one could make an EV with 100 mile range.
    1 small new company : Tesla makes an EV with 300 mile range, and that too a 7 seater with Frunk (Frontal Trunk) & Trunk.

    Is this a miracle.
    Actually those 10 big automakers are not interested in selling EVs.

    Its great that Tesla is re-booting the whole Auto Industry.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “Actually those 10 big automakers are not interested in selling EVs.”

      Excuse me, have you never heard of Nissan? How about GM? Perhaps Ford?

      100 miles is not currently doable for an EV that most new car purchasers could afford. Tesla jumped into the luxury car niche, a smart move, but not a car for the masses.

      Tesla now has the chore of building down to reach a wider portion of the market. Other EV manufacturers are already there and working on range/price.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        Electric vehicles with less than 200 mile radius do not count as EV. Only Tesla has delivered a true EV and Tesla’s production capacity is too limited to fill the demand

        • Bob_Wallace

          Mammals with more than seven letters in their last names do not count as humans.

  • Alaa

    That Swedish Akerson should have had this task force 10 years ago! What he can do now is go to Tesla and beg them to take over what ever is left from GM in bankrupt Detroit to keep these families that work there for GM a float!

    • Bob_Wallace

      GM is doing just fine. And GM really isn’t in Detroit. The car companies left Detroit years ago, which is why Detroit is in trouble. Only Jeeps are manufactured in Detroit.

      • brink

        Bob nice to see you again. Check the EOS post it will be my last to you. Ignorance is bliss

        • Bob_Wallace

          Naw, ignorance can rise up and bite one in the butt.

          Avoid ignorance whenever possible….

  • Thomas

    What’s rather strange about Mr. Girsky’s disruptive words is the stress that he puts on his boss Mr. Akerson thinking “… that Tesla could be a disruptive force”: He continues saying in third person lingo that “… history is full of companies who failed to inovate…”. – So , what I’d be interested in knowing here is: What opinion does Mr. Girsky in his very first person lingo has about all this himself ?

    He doesn’t seem very supportive to his bosses’ opinion apart from his third person lip service that he pays.

    And incidentally, why does Mr. Girsky reveal to the public anyway that there is a task force at GM looking into how TESLA is disruptive? Shouldn’t that be a corporate secret?

    In my opinion everything he said made his boss look stupid, made GM look stupid and made himself look stupid.

    I wonder if his boss Mr. Akerson had sanctioned the revealed information?

    • Thomas

      …but since I’m a pretty big TESLA fan, I don’t really mind if GM does stupid things.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I don’t want GM to do stupid things.

        I want GM to get the cost of the Volt down, like is rumored. And I want them to extend their PHEV technology into pickup trucks and larger vehicles.

        There’s going to be a market for pickups and larger vehicles in the US. If drivers could do the first 30, 40 miles on electricity then we could significantly cut petroleum use. Some people will not be forced into small cars unless the push is very, very hard.

        And I want GM’s Spark EV to be successful. We need every car manufacturer to develop a good EV.

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