Originally published on TeslaMondo.
With Model X approaching, it’s time to speculate about what rival automakers will say when their SUVs suddenly go stale by comparison. Looking at the Model S phenomenon as a guide, we can expect lots of entertaining commentary from Tesla’s old-school competition. Here’s how rival camps, caught flat-footed and bewildered like deer in Tesla’s headlights, have tried to talk down Tesla so far.
May 7, 2015: Porsche CEO Matthias Müller: “I cannot say anything about Tesla,” he said. “I don’t know anything about Tesla.” That’s what he told the Wall Street Journal just yesterday. If he really knows nothing about Tesla, he’s unfit for the job. If he knows a lot about Tesla, then he’s a liar. No-win predicament there. But you know what’s even more embarrassing that Müller’s comments? The fact that the WSJ spells Müller’s last name three different ways in the article. Two variations in the body and a third in the photo caption. Oh Rupert.
July 2, 2014: Brian Smith, Lexus VP: “They’ll probably come back,” he said, referring to former Lexus customers who’ve defected to Tesla. “I think the question remains to be seen how many people will buy a second Tesla.” Turns out, a lot. Remember the Consumer Reports loyalty surveys? Tesla has dominated them for both sales and service. So this time around, with the Model X, the customer loyalty argument won’t work.
April 6, 2014: Mercedes Benz USA boss Steve Cannon: “Folks are buying a Tesla now because they’re kind of cool, but if you’re a Tesla buyer, you have to have multiple cars,” Cannon told Forbes, adding that he felt the infrastructure necessary to maintain and fuel electric cars wouldn’t soon stand up to mass demand. “With Mercedes, you have a whole network. You’ve got no worries.” See? Hakuna Matata. But wait, Mercedes makes the least-reliable car on the planet. Start worrying.
Nov. 28, 2014: BMW: During speculation about a Tesla/BMW collaboration with batteries and carbon fiber, unnamed sources within BMW told a German magazine that Tesla is faking an association with BMW for marketing purposes. Touchy touchy. Soon enough, BMW will be more than happy to associate itself with the Tesla name. The truth is, BMW’s image could use a little massaging.
July 31, 2013: Audi: Issued a press release on its website (quickly taken down) titled, “Not so fast to put Tesla on that particular pedestal.” It slapped the media for hyping Model S sales numbers. Tesla’s sudden success represents merely a temporary blip from early adopters, said the press release. Well, it’s now mid-2015, comfortably past the early-adoption stage, and demand isn’t slowing. That’s partly because the Model S has quickly and relentlessly improved while rival products receive updates about every five years — and suffer new glitches with every iteration.
So that sums up Silicon Valley versus Germany and Japan, Round One. Ready for more laughs in Round Two?
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