"GM Takes on Tesla - and Just Might Win" and "VW Wants to Win With Electric Cars"

"GM Takes on Tesla - and Just Might Win" and "VW Wants to Win With Electric Cars"

GM planning to make a 200 mile range $30,000 that will apparently crush Tesla for all of eternity because 'Yahoo!' fails at making rational decisions.

Yes! And by "make," surely they mean "over a period of five years conceptualize, design, build, test, manufacture, sell, and wish upon a star that consumers overlook the fact that our car pales in comparison to the Model S, X and E cars Tesla will have on the market at that time." By the by GM didn't give any rough estimates on a date, but it definitely won't be out by the time the Model E makes waves.

We do realize that this is the same car company that sells the Volt, aka government-backed 2011 CotY that failed in nearly every aspect that GM loses money on for every single Volt that rolls off of the lot.

In other news, VW woke up yesterday and decided they would become the leader in "electric mobility" by 2018, which apparently wasn't a aspiration of any other car company prior. Fool is okay, so I'll stop there.

jat | 17 September 2013

They did even less than not give a rough estimate of a date, they refused to commit that they actually would ever build it -- only that they could.

VW's CEO had also previously said EVs were only city cars, so apparently he means that they could have 40 models of tiny-battery EVs if the market says they will buy it before they invest too much effort.

jbunn | 17 September 2013

Yep. There are pigs and chickens. At breakfast, chickens are involved but pigs are committed.

By that, I mean Tesla is all in for electric vehicles. GM did some great work, but it's been doing the hokey-pokey. Right foot in, right foot out, right foot in, and now they will probably "shake it all about".

Tesla on the other hand has taken a more direct and focused approach. Electric or bust. Fortunately, they bet on a better technology.

The GM story revolves around what they COULD produce IF battery technology dropped to... whatever. And if I had a skirt, I'd be the queen of England.

I don't want to dismiss GM, but I wont be worried until they show something like a Tesla S Beta. For now GM can wish into one hand and poop into the other. Let's see which one fills up first.

AmpedRealtor | 17 September 2013

So wait a minute. GM formed a committee a few months ago to study Tesla as if it were a UFO from Alpha Centauri. This committee spends months analyzing the Tesla Psychosis and concludes that the best way for GM to compete is by copying Tesla. Today GM makes a vague announcement that they are going to compete with Tesla by copying it with a Model E-like vehicle but with no timeline, no design, no nothing except a copy/paste hack job from Tesla's old press releases.

And GM just might "win"? What is it that they are winning, an award for being embarrassingly late to a party that's already moved on?

AmpedRealtor | 17 September 2013

"Want to know the most efficient way to drive? Watch the little green ball... drive too fast, the ball goes up, slow down too quickly and the ball goes down... what you want to do is drive in a way so the green ball stays in the middle."

The above was said to me by a Chevy Volt salesperson. I'll take kilowatt hours to dumbed-down little green balls, thank you very much.

RedShift | 17 September 2013

I hope GM won't try to crush the roof. Tesla Model S has the strongest roof of any car in the US.

Liz G | 17 September 2013

I really thought that was going to be a joke.

"So the car salesman says to the customer. See that little green ball, drive to fast, the ball goes up, slow down to quickly and the ball goes down.....Punch line." But there was no punch line.

Maybe that was the joke?

TikiMan | 17 September 2013

At this point, if GM wanted to actually compete with Tesla, they would need to release a EV Corvette Stingray with at least 200 miles of EV range, and similar performance to the V-8 ICE version of the car. As well, they would need to build a large charging infrastructure for it. Good luck.

michael1800 | 17 September 2013

Don't be mistaken. Though they'll all be late to the party, they will eventually arrive and after that, will eventually be able to compete. I kinda think that's what we want. I'm loyal to Tesla for pioneering the shift, but it's more about changing the world than creating another large and successful company. If the world switches to EV, THAT'S the real success.

michael1800 | 17 September 2013

Geeze, that post makes me sound like a idealist and maybe a hippie. Rest assured forum-goers, I'm an optimistic pessimist and have no shame in using dead animal hide to keep comfy.

GDH | 17 September 2013

I would never buy anything GM makes. Im a Volvo and Tesla guy only.

shop | 17 September 2013

After looking at what SpaceX has done is doing (it has slashed the cost of space lift by 25%), I now understand why no one has been able to bring a car to market that even approaches Tesla's specs. Elon is really, really, really good at relentlessly reducing cost through simple to manufacture, but advanced technology. Other companies simply do not have the ability for firmware engineers to talk to structural engineers who talk to motor engineers, so that they can build the best integrated and cheapest car.

People keep saying, oh wait until the big car companies start working at it, they'll be able to undercut Tesla's pricing. I think the opposite has already happened.. Tesla is able to undercut the big car companies, and will always be able to do so, so long as cars can accept innovation.

SpaceX is already well on their way to being the only space lift supplier in 10 years. I doubt Tesla will be the only car maker when the dust settles, but it'll be a big one, of that I have no doubt.

jat | 17 September 2013

@GDH - you already did buy what GM makes -- you just didn't get to keep it.

petochok | 17 September 2013

You'd think the poster would have been updated since Ford decided not to take the money, after all.

elguapo | 17 September 2013

I agree with @michael1800. I think the goal is to have all of the existing ICE manufacturers realize EV is a realistic market and try to compete - that's actually what Elon has said he's trying to do - give a push to the "old school" ICE companies.

I don't mean to defend GM or others, they should be scolded for sitting on EV patents and technology for so many years, however, they will come to the party, albeit late, and have their own take on EV.

OR, they'll get tired of trying and buy Tesla or license its technology. Remember, Qualcomm used to actually make cell phones, then others got really good at the hardware and already had much significant infrastructure and experience and Qualcomm just sat back and licensed its tech. Indirect analogy, but maybe you see where I was going...Lots of possibilities.

bradslee | 17 September 2013

Take a look on how the auto giants like GM and VW think of Tesla and EV in general: first GM Vice Chairman claimed that Tesla was a joke and they completely disregarded TM and EV market; next GM formed a committee to study TM; and now GM and VW (as well as BMW) all announced that they are going to introduce to the market their versions of EV competing with TM.

What has caused the change among the auto giants? The answer is the trend of the reality. Elon has foreseen this day would come and he has a plan to deal with it (Elon made it clear on this at 2013 TM shareholders meeting).

Thus, for those status quo ICE auto giants, the change brought by TM for them is equal to that Ford's Model T to those horse wagon makers in 19th century who were forced to follow the trend but never catch up.

ENGINEER | 17 September 2013

Another thing is IF they do design cars with 200+ ranges, they're forgetting the fact by that time Tesla will have over 90% of the country near a Supercharging station. Same can be said for Europe. Tesla sure won't allow non-Tesla cars to charge there without a significant fee if they ever even allow it. Doesn't matter if they can make a car as good as the S or E, Tesla has it all planned for the long run.

RanjitC | 17 September 2013

@jat +1

Iowa92x | 17 September 2013

It seems pretty clear the big players are so far behind Tesla that their only chance to compete is to license the Tesla powertrain and try to beat Tesla on interior content, suspension and fit-and-finish. Tesla has patents in place that will make it difficult for the big boys to mimic the battery tech without getting sue slapped.

License the powertrain which means they will license the Supercharges which means the BMW i3 dries up and Tesla stock spools.

The future of electric cars is the powertrain and cabin will be more modular so customers can upgrade the cabin and reuse the powertrain. Or vise-versa, keep the cabin, update the battery.

GDH | 17 September 2013

I got pwnd, lmao. | 17 September 2013

So GM's latest offering is going to the Cadillac ELR - 207 HP, 35 EV mile range, all for a cool $65K:

They've got some work to do... :)


toby_wan_kenoby | 17 September 2013

People bring up the Super Chargers as a competitive advantage. While the Tesla super chargers are a competitive advantage while they are the only ones around to recreate such a network is quite easy and very cheap. Its mostly a time advantage.

A supercharger cost between $250k and $500k. And the costs are only so high because to offer it for free Tesla needs to install solar panels offsite. The solar panel roof is purely cosmetic as it can only deliver the charge of about 2 cars per day.

So a network of 200 chargers will set you back a mere $100m..... that is a rounding error for most large car manufacturers.

So STOP thinking that SCs are so unique. They are only unique until others decide that this is the way to go and install their own. It will take time and permitting trouble... but they can do it if the decide to.

Battery technology is the only shield Tesla has and the desire and ability to manufacture the battery cheaper than the competition. And that advantage will not be broken any time soon.... if ever.

And then one can always argue that the looks of the MS are hard to beat ;-)

Bikezion | 17 September 2013

The article did get one thing correct.
"GM’s most prominent electric car, of course, is the Chevy Volt, which can travel about 35 miles on one charge, starts at $34,000, and is approximately as exciting as a minivan."

bent | 17 September 2013

Iowa92x wrote:
"It seems pretty clear the big players are so far behind Tesla that their only chance to compete is to license the Tesla powertrain and try to beat Tesla on interior content, suspension and fit-and-finish. (…)"

Many of the incumbents could compete simply on being themselves: BMW owners would generally prefer to stay with BMW when buying their first EV, but BMW is currently not giving them that option and so is losing loyal customers to Tesla. If there was a 200mi BMW EV it probably wouldn't need to compete overly much on the drive train or battery to retain those customers, they would just need to have their logo on the car and make sure it otherwise has the BMW feel.

and toby_wan_kenoby wrote:
"(…) While the Tesla super chargers are a competitive advantage while they are the only ones around to recreate such a network is quite easy and very cheap. (…)"

Managing to build cheap chargers – cheap super chargers no less – was in itself a revolution. Everyone else seems to be using over-engineered, super expensive, license-heavy crud where Tesla just solders together some basic power electronics and calls it a (super) charger. (The "super" bit is rather more complex, with sophisticated software requirements, but the brilliance in that is that the software can be infinitely replicated once developed and the hardware remains inexpensive.)

Part of the reason Tesla could do this was that they broke off from the industry standards groups and rolled their own proprietary charging solution. Not needing to be compatible with anyone else cuts down considerably on the cost of the final system. Being the only ones to do this, and being generally trailblazers in the EV field, they will probably be able to get away with it. I'm not sure it will be so easy for no. 2.

SamO | 18 September 2013


I thought the Supercharging stations and the 12 chargers charging at a rate of 350-400mph of charge was pretty special.

It wasn't enough just to have charging, because you needed charging that competes in speed with a fill-up.

What other product is out there that can accomplish what the Supercharger does?

ChasF | 18 September 2013

LOL. This thread reminds me of a cat wandering into a hornets nest.

ThomasK | 18 September 2013

BUT. Both the VW and the GM EVs will have two dozen cup holders.

redacted | 18 September 2013

An analogy is how the car companies have competed on hybrid tech with the Prius. It's a decade and a half later, the Prius has improved only incrementally, and still, almost nothing comes close on mileage.

You have to care to do well. Toyota cared with the hybrid. The others just want a hybrid for their lineup. I am afraid it will be so for electrics as well.

cloroxbb | 18 September 2013

What some of these companies fail to realize is that they may be able to copy Tesla and make a comparable EV car, but they aren't going to have the charging infrastructure that Tesla will have by the time the E comes out.

Most of the U.S. will be able to be traveled to/through with a Tesla, the competition will have to rely on current SLOW charging infrastructure.

Tesla has really thought this whole thing through, while other companies that want to compete with Tesla do not seem focused on the big picture IMO.

SunCoulombs | 18 September 2013

ThomasK wrote:
But. both the VW and the GM EVs will have two dozen cup holders.
No, they would construct a giant cup holder on wheels!

JonathanL | 18 September 2013

GM's version of vaporware.

shop | 18 September 2013

I'll say it again. No one can copy Tesla because no one has the fast response, rapid engineering culture that Tesla has. And no one will, until another Elon comes along and starts their own car company. Don't you guys realize we are seeing the same thing that happened with PCs? The old companies are too inefficient and slow to compete.

Hasn't anyone realized the ramifications of what Tesla is? It is the first new viable car company in 100 years. That's huge. Everyone was saying that it couldn't be done. Now that it is done, people have forgotten that it was supposed to be impossible.

SunCoulombs | 18 September 2013

An electric Mission Impossible. ;)

nomorebmws | 18 September 2013

Regardless of how serious and committed GM is actually is to this plan, I would think it would seen as great news here. One of Elon Musk's goals in starting Tesla was to lead by example and show that people will buy EVs if they don't have to compromise on range, looks and size. Making EVs appealing and available to everyone will take more than just Tesla, so be glad that these other manufacturers are taking notice!

AmpedRealtor | 18 September 2013

@ toby_wan_kenoby - Of course the superchargers are special, do you know of any other charging infrastructure anywhere that can charge at 120 kW? The other problem with your hypothesis is that none of the other car companies have the will to produce a competing infrastructure. They don't have the brass, simple as that. GM's announcement was nothing more than a vague reference to something they are going to do at some point in the future, but without any commitments. You can also bet that anything these car companies create won't be free and they will surely suck you dry on service and force you to pay a dealer markup. Oh goody!

Tesla, by contrast, has shipped two different EV platforms and is about to ship their third vehicle design next year. GM has yet to deliver a single EV with even half the range of Tesla's bottom of the line Model S. So no, GM is not a threat and will not "win" anything except ridicule. Announcing a product that doesn't exist is a desperate move on GM's part, it doesn't seem to make sense.

Also, some of you seem to imply that Elon's only goal with Tesla is to push other manufacturers to start selling EVs. Really? So as soon as GM, Ford and others produce a viable EV, Tesla is going to do what, roll over and die? Why would Tesla license its technology to its competition? That's like saying Apple should license iOS to Samsung and get out of the iPhone business. Really?

gooshjkc | 18 September 2013

Elon said he wanted other players, because he knows just well as others that if Tesla is the only player, Tesla won't succeed in the long run. GM, VW and Toyota will all come into the game (Ford has done so already in a very limited way). In my opinion, that's good. It will become like the battle between Apple and Android. Some will love Tesla and others will love the others. However, Tesla will always be the standard where all other EVs will be compared to, as is the case with Apple. Now, the big question is when will the others fully jump into the game. GM has only mentioned they will build one, but they really haven't stated when it will come out. In other words, they want to see how Tesla is going to do in the market. Trust me, if Tesla fails, they will not be building an EV or stop whatever they're doing and change direction for another kind of propulsion vehicle.

mdemetri | 18 September 2013

Not to worry, by the time GM and VW come out with a 200 mile EV, Tesla will have a 500 mile EV. Coupled with the SC network; Tesla will maintain its advantage for many many years to come.

Having said that, I welcome GM and VW attempting to compete in the EV marketplace. The more manufacturers that do this, the better. Every car needs to become an EV and Tesla cannot do that alone. | 18 September 2013

We should cheer for any credible EV bought to market--things like the build out of a national fast charging networks will only happen when there is a critical mass of EVs and someone sees the business oppty in an untapped market. I think the SuperCharger network is a competitive advantage for Tesla, but it is not going to help broader EV adoption. For that to happen, everyone needs to be fielding credible vehicles. While I love the SC network is probably not going to go everywhere I might want to drive, so a broader charger build-out is imperative, especially in the middle of the country.

That being said, I don't think the challenge for the GMs and VWs of the world is engineering or R&D - they probably spend more in a week than Tesla does in a year. There is a lot of smugness on the board bout Tesla's competitive advantage and I think it wold be a mistake to confuse "can't" and "won't".

The problem is that GM, Ford, VM, etc are saddled with an an ICE-centered business model--everything from the way the cars are built to the way they are sold through dealers. Until they can transition business models and find a way to incent dealers move EVs, its is going to be tough for them.


bareyb | 18 September 2013

I'd love to see it, but it won't happen over night. They'll start out by trying to be "better" and then they'll fail at it and simply start blatantly copying Tesla's designs but not doing it as well.... Sound familiar?

carlk | 18 September 2013

GM has won--- with Powerpoint. Where is the car?

jcaspar1 | 18 September 2013

Amazed me that 17 years ago GM had an electric car that had better range and performance than the Nissan Leaf does today. They had something going just a little too soon...

ausdma | 18 September 2013

Fun thread, I think.

Competition is good.

I will bet on the more focused and committed company.

ChetB | 18 September 2013

omarsultan | SEPTEMBER 17, 2013
So GM's latest offering is going to the Cadillac ELR - 207 HP, 35 EV mile range, all for a cool $65K

That is a pathetic electric range for a $65K car before you add options. What a joke.

justineet | 18 September 2013

GM has been threatening a world beater electric car for the past 40yrs.....this is the latest round....... | 18 September 2013

The ELR is actually a great object lesson for folks unhappy with the MS' minimalist interior. The ELR actually ekes more HP and juice out of the basic Volt platform, but they have added so much bling the effective range remains the same as the more modest Volt.


oildeathspiral | 18 September 2013

EVs are just simply better cars. I believe that as prices decline and range anxiety is eradicated by time and education, before too long demand will increase faster than supply due to the appeal to buyers in the EV's price range and $5,000-$10,000 below it. A premium will apply to the best EV's. Sales of Leafs and Volts (ok not exactly an EV) picked up as incentives increased and prices dropped. Tesla has increased production and prices yet is still supply constrained.

There will be plenty of room for all EV manufacturers for a long time.

church70 | 18 September 2013


Neech | 18 September 2013

Big oil still has their iron-fisted grip around ICE automakers you-know-whats. I doubt we will ever see GM, VW, BMW, et al make a serious long range EV. Big oil killed the EV that GM produced before and will forever influence those companies.

Brian H | 19 September 2013

When TN has a 500-mi battery, it can swap out the SC chargers 12 250-mi batteries, and thus double the SC charge rate. The old batteries will bulk up the buffer banks on site.

JHM | 19 September 2013

Maybe Portlandia can do a sketch for GM and VW, "Put a battery in it!"

Benz | 21 September 2013

Two things:


At the moment nobody can compete with Tesla Motors, and in the coming years it does not look like that there will be any competition for Tesla Motors at all. But eventually there will be, that's for sure, because these car companies have lots of resources. But competition is good, that's exactly what Elon Musk wants them to do. And when there will be competition, Tesla Motors will have grown up, they will be selling many many many EV's per year. They will even have become market leader of EV's by then.


When more and more car manufacturers start selling more and more EV models, then the annual market share of EV's will start to rise. And that's exactly what needs to happen. So, it's good that GM and VW (and others) are having some attention for EV's as well now. Even if their (current) EV's cannot compete with the Tesla EV's. So, let them introduce as many EV models as they can, the more the better, I would say. Every EV that gets sold is one less ICE sold. That's how I think about it.