This is really not meant as a tribalistic attack on non-Tesla automakers. This is not a “Woohoo! Tesla is the best!” article. This is a genuine question I am more eager than ever to know an answer to.
The Tesla Model 3 is clearly the first mass-market electric car across North America and Europe. It is the only electric car that leads — or dominates — a major market segment in several countries (the USA, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and more). This is not simply due to “Tesla fanboys” drinking Kool-Aid and worshiping Elon Musk. Anyone who thinks Tesla has sold hundreds of thousands of Tesla Model 3s because of some Twitter and YouTube enthusiasm or propaganda is missing the point.
7 “Little Things” We Love About The Tesla Model 3 https://t.co/Kc9SPagA30 pic.twitter.com/VgpTNs6SBB
— CleanTechnica (@cleantechnica) August 31, 2019
The Model 3’s market-leading safety, autonomous driving tech, driving quality and performance, infotainment system, and navigation tech mean that there’s no competitor that’s objectively a better overall package. Tesla’s Supercharger network and various total cost of ownership analyses provide an even further boost to the Model 3.
Someone may buy another car in the Model 3’s class due to certain styling preferences, or may prefer the old-school interior of a Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, BMW 3 Series, or Mercedes C-Class. I imagine a great portion of automobile purchases are made simply because of exterior and interior styling preferences, rather than objective comparisons between models in the class the consumer is shopping in. But, styling preferences aside, there is no clear reason to buy a Model 3 competitor instead of a Model 3, which is why the young Tesla model is doing so well in markets where many consumers can afford the car and Tesla awareness is half decent.
Getting back to the topic of the article, though, when is another automaker going to release a car that competes with the Model 3 on safety, tech, drive quality, performance, range, size, and total cost of ownership?
The VW ID.3 seems to be a solid offering coming in 2020, but it certainly doesn’t check all of the Model 3’s boxes, maybe just half of them. The …
Oh, that’s the end of the list. I can’t think of any other potentially compelling, long-range, ground-up electric vehicles coming in the next few years for which the automaker may have a solid supply of batteries lined up. Well, it’s hard to find any other compelling, long-range, ground-up electric vehicles at all. Look at Maarten’s compilations for Europe and the USA. I certainly haven’t found a model that has the same level of infotainment, safety, autonomous driving capability, performance, space, charging capability, and relatively low cost. If I missed something, let me know.
Without a concept electric vehicle to even imagine being competitive, it’s hard to guess about timing, but we do have one potential comparison to help us estimate the timing. The Porsche Taycan is, arguably, the first Tesla Model S competitor. The Model S came out in 2012, and the Taycan is about to be launched on September 4 (we’ll be there enthusiastically covering the event), with deliveries presumably starting in 2020. That’s basically an 8 year delay. If we assume a similar delay rolling out a Tesla Model 3 competitor (from anyone), that means we’ll be waiting until 2025. That’s a long time.
Perhaps the industry got more serious much more quickly this time around. Perhaps some automakers tore down the Model S, saw the Model 3 coming, and got to work quietly trying to develop a legitimate competitor. Maybe they’re getting supply chains ramped up and putting finishing touches on a surprise vehicle all in dark rooms hidden from the press. I think that’s unlikely, since it seems like it would be sensible to blast the work out to the public to try to avoid losing customers to Tesla, but assuming an automaker might have done that, could we have a competitor arrive in 2021? 2023? Who knows? Without a well defined effort in the public eye by now, it’s unclear when someone else is going to have a $40,000 electric car on the market that tops safety ratings, has sporty performance and handling, has very advanced autonomous driving tech, breaks the mold on infotainment in an impressive way, is capable of ultrafast charging on a widespread charging network, and has the styling and production capacity to reach the mass market.
Any guesses? More bullish about the Nissan LEAF E+ or VW ID.3 than me? Think the Volkswagen Vizzion will be a surprise competitor and will land before its scheduled 2025? Will Hyundai and Kia get production capacity in order and improve their offerings enough to ramp up sales? Will Honda and Toyota shock the world with electric competitors to the Accord, Civic, Camry, and Corolla that can replace them in the global top 20? Some of you may be laughing at this point. I know how hard it is to imagine that Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, or Nissan will produce electric vehicles that destroy their top selling gasoline cash cows in the next 2–3 years
If you’d like to buy a Tesla and get 1,000 miles (1,500 km) of free Supercharging, feel free to use my referral code: https://ts.la/zachary63404.
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