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5 Simple Things Automakers Need To Do To Compete With Tesla

Tesla Model 3 favorite

As I just wrote, I don’t think blind tribalism is helpful. As I wrote last night, I think we should cheer BMW on now that 15% of its passenger car sales in North America are plug-in vehicles. Nissan deserves praise for being the first automaker to sell 100,000 electric cars, almost 2 years before Tesla hit the milestone to claim the silver medal in that competition. GM and Mitsubishi deserve credit for reaching that milestone as well, via vehicles that genuinely competitive and smart purchases in their classes.

But time and time again, EV enthusiasts are faced with the upsetting realization that all automakers other than Tesla have dropped the ball (purposefully or not) with some essential elements of the evolution into EVs. Or, at least, all public info on the matter tells us that they’ve dropped the ball.

So, to just be straight up about it, and to provide an article I (and others?) can easily reference when explaining why the Model 3 has 400,000+ reservations and what automakers need to do in order to genuinely compete for the top spot in the EV market, here are 5 “simple” things I (and many others) think they need to do:

  1. Offer super-fast charging via a widespread, practically planned, reliable charging station network. (Not DC “fast charging,” but super-fast charging.) 
  2. Work closely with battery suppliers to ramp up production, bring down costs, and make EVs more competitive on an upfront cost basis with gasmobiles (even for people who don’t immediately understand the benefits of home charging, one-pedal driving, instant torque, low maintenance, a quiet/smooth drivetrain, and oil/gas independence). 
  3. Start using over-the-air updates to improve your customers’ cars over time. 
  4. Until you get free press as much as Tesla does, do a much better job of advertising your EVs to help your consumers learn about the benefits of home charging, one-pedal driving, instant torque, low maintenance, a quiet/smooth drivetrain, and oil/gas independence … in a compelling and exciting way. 
  5. Design your vehicles in a way that will appeal to the masses, not just quirky people like me.

For the time being, I’m not going to get into autonomous driving… but it could well be an item on this list soon.


Related: Tesla’s Competitive Advantages — 5 Big Ones

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Photos by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica (CC BY-SA 4.0), via

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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