Who are Tesla's real Competitors?

Who are Tesla's real Competitors?

I've been doing a lot of research lately into Tesla's competitors... and quite frankly, there aren't any.

Tesla will become within firing range of Nissan and Chevy around 2017, but I have no doubt that the neither Detroit nor the Japanese can take the heat. The Leaf only gets around 85 miles of range, and the Volt isn't pure electric, getting only 38 miles without gas.

So far, the only REAL competitor to Tesla that I've uncovered is Fisker. The new Chinese owner, and his parent company Wanxiang, is ready to get back in the game. Even though it's been a long time since Henrik's Karma finished off production, Mr. Lu has made a promise: "I'll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust."

Detroit Electric ( has vowed to create a Roadster copy-cat, even based on the same Lotus platform. I doubt they'll be able to raise the cash to reach production, and if they do, their demise ought to be quick. The name sucks, the car itself looks bland and plastic, and they've been struggling to inspire investors for a while...

Has anyone heard of any other startups joining the EV fray? I'd really be curious to see a new American automaker come from the mist to step up and put a squeeze Tesla's sales, as unlikely as that seems.

I'm not talking about automotive mainstays - Toyota, Daimler, etc. - they are moving too slow to compete, and customers remain uninspired by existing cars with green leaf graphics and plug-in ports replacing the gas flap.

If competitors were to arise, I'd like to start an open discussion on which concepts/markets they could they compete in? I would say that the luxury sedan market is far too crowded, but there's still room in SUVs or low-cost vehicles before the X and 3 reach customers. Trucks remain intriguing too, not to mention Elon Musk's future commitment to EV trucks.

ghillair | 7 november 2014

The only people that can compete with T≡sla are those that by 2020 will have a battery supply equal or greater than the gigafactory is producing.

With out the batteries they can produce a competitive product but not in quantity.

Billed_Year4815 | 7 november 2014

Crudeoil, lack of climatechange press, and hybridtechnology are all competitors.

grega | 8 november 2014

There are many potential competitors.

One example is VW, which expects hybrids as an interim step before all cars are electric.after 2020.

Leaf is a smaller car but is important, and Nissan believes in EVs with this and other vehicles like their van. And the bmw i3 has its place, as does volt and the Mazda 2 EREV version (all EREVs).

Nothing is like a model S yet.
Check out the EREV thread too.

Tiebreaker | 8 november 2014

@grega : There are many potential competitors.

Emphasis on potential.

2020 is soooo far away in Internet or Tesla years...

Model ☰ | 8 november 2014

If competitors were to arise, I'd like to start an open discussion on which concepts/markets they could they compete in? I would say that the luxury sedan market is far too crowded, but there's still room in SUVs or low-cost vehicles before the X and 3 reach customers. Trucks remain intriguing too, not to mention Elon Musk's future commitment to EV trucks.

The right market must as far as I can see be limo/town-car market. These are great cars that accommodates large batteries, often limited how far they drive. Coming mostly "home" to charge between runs - so they need hardly fast charging/charging infrastructure. Silence from an electric motor and sliding driving without shifting must provide the ultimate luxury feeling for rear seat passengers. While Tesla has created a "drivers car", the focus here must be on the passengers. Not least have high ceilings, good seats and cup holders;)

This will be one limited market with low volumes but with potesielt high profit per car, and contribute to brand recognition. See for yourselves a presidential limousine - it will be the ultimate EV 1! ;)

Further development can go in two directions:
1. Taxi. Reduce cost by reducing luxury properties and increase the volume. Add high-speed AC-charge (22kWh/43kWh) if it does not have this in the first edition, and offer reasonable low-price charge boxes that can be deployed on taxi ranks or else where it is natural to park a taxi between shifts or during lunsh.
2. Limousines are heavy vehicles and need a powerful framework / structure. This can be built on by towards the upper end of the SUV market and pickup trucks / vans.

Red Sage ca us | 8 november 2014

Model ☰: Agreed, in that limousine/taxi/livery services would do well to switch to fully electric vehicles. I live in Los Angeles though, a city that covers a much larger area than most. So a limited range, low capacity limousine isn't the way to go.

I believe that convenience to owners and drivers should be at the forefront to convince them to switch from gasoline vehicles. The ability to go in any direction from any point to any destination is imperative. So if you pick up a Client at LAX, you may need to take them to Twenty-Nine Palms, or Lancaster, or even further...

To manage that, I would want to see a skateboard style installation of the battery pack. Given the longer wheelbase of a limousine, and tremendous overall weight, it should be ale to carry more than a mere 85 kWh capacity. I think that something in the neighborhood of 170 kWh minimum, and 220 kWh optimum would suffice. And it should be Supercharger compatible as well.

There are coachbuilders in Southern California that build limousines out of just about anything. I would be surprised if none of them have contacted Tesla Motors, to make inquiries regarding their drivetrain. Even if it were not possible to arrange for an extended wheelbase Model S, they could certainly hope to manage a conversion of a Lincolc, Cadillac, or Mercedes-Benz platform to fully electric.

grega | 8 november 2014

@tiebreaker yes potential.
I agree currently there's no real competitor - unless you consider that there are a whole bunch of ICEVs that buyers sometimes purchase instead.

But tesla has to think long term not just this year. They're designing years in advance.

Similarly with TSLA stock based on long term outlook it's useful to look at where competition is likely to be and how successful it might be.

Red Sage ca us | 8 november 2014

Hmmm... Somehow, I'd rather start my own electric car company than count on inabikari... Is that wrong?

blue adept | 9 november 2014

There will never be any real competition to Tesla Motors until automobile manufacturers actually commit to producing an actual BEV of the equivalent quality and performance of either the Roadster or Model S (or any of the planned subsequent models).

Until then Tesla Motors will remain at the forefront of the BEV market, well ahead of the innovative technology curve, far ahead.

Brian H | 9 november 2014

And remember that Tesla would rather not have to make all the world's great BEVs that it wants to replace the whole gas fleet. Just to make it financially necessary for others to do it right by offering a "value proposition" they can't otherwise duplicate.

blue adept | 9 november 2014

@Brian H

Just to make it financially necessary for others to do it right by offering a "value proposition" they can't otherwise duplicate.

Can you clarify your comments a bit?

JeffreyR | 9 november 2014

"Value Proposition" is a reason to buy; common marketing phrase in the States

In other words, the tech/car has features (reasons) that are so compelling the other auto makers must change their approach.

A stretch limo would be a great use case for an EV as you would add structural rigidity w/ battery pack and not need a super-long axle to drive the wheels. The easily added torque and horse-power would be a big boost too. Not to mention the additional trunk space by having a frunk instead of a V-8 up front.


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blue adept | 10 november 2014


It has long been my understanding that the Tesla model lineup, both present and future, offers a variety of 'reasons to buy', tantamount among them being the conflict free, environmentally friendly, people safe, zero emissions/polluting, infinitely rechargeable, electrified power train...

Or did I miss something?

Red Sage ca us | 11 november 2014

Traditional automobile manufacturers have long stated that 'no one wants' an electric car. They have then gone on to prove that point by: building electric cars that no one wanted; making electric cars that were so expensive to buy that they weren't worth the money asked; or making sure they crushed and shredded any electric cars that the public showed an interest in buying. Tesla Motors has broken the rules by doing none of that.

By releasing the Model ≡ at an affordable price point, Tesla Motors will offer the 'value proposition' of: not buying gas; fueling at home; spending 25% or less on comparable fuel costs; having economy and performance simultaneously; and having the convenience of no charge highway fueling for road trips.

There is no way to hit all those points without building an electric car. Thus, when sales of Malibu, Fusion, Altima, Accord, and Camry visibly slow, while sales of Passat, Sonata, 6, and Optima dry up, while sales of ATS, A4, ES, and CLA are eclipsed... That is the point when action will be taken by traditional automobile manufacturers.

Initially it will be legal action. Accusations of technology dumping... Attempts to get direct sales exemptions overturned... Injunctions filed by multiple sources insisting that the courts order Tesla Motors to cease and desist en lieu of regulatory review... All the dirtiest of backroom, backdoor, protectionist tactics that can be devised by the sleaziest of well paid lawyers, trotted out for a last itch effort to stop the immediate threat by burying them in litigation...

Once all that fails, someone might consider the notion of building their own electric car, just to see what happens.

vgarbutt | 11 november 2014

Teslas competition are the 12 - 23,000 dollar ice Gas guzzlers which account for the lions share of cars sold. The gen 3 can beat these cars hands down, just using cost of ownership arguments. Crunch the numbers and it is obvious. See my post " tesla model 3 the ICE killer"

JeffreyR | 11 november 2014


I thought you had asked for clarification on meaning of marketing, quasi English phrase "Value Proposition" and that is all. Was not trying to add deep meaning or many points. I just misunderstood what you were asking for.

Timo | 11 november 2014

Current Tesla competition are the 50-100k similar ICE cars. Like Audi S8. There are no mass-produced BEV:s in that category.

When Tesla makes cheaper car then competition is with that cheaper class of similar cars.

No-one competes with Tesla with BEV:s. Not yet anyway. When they do then competition is like it is right now: price, maintenance, performance, tiny luxury details, convenience and sexiness. General population really doesn't care if the car is BEV or ICE or run by tiny nuclear plant or fairy dust as long those criteria are fulfilled.

blue adept | 12 november 2014


You understood my request perfectly, I just took it upon myself to seize the opportunity to fully articulate my position by listing the various reasons that I am aware of why automobile manufacturers should devote their efforts to the development and production of their own viable EV platform.

It was...selfish of me, I know, but can you forgive me?

And now that I've indentured myself this far in the pursuit of articulately stating my position, allow me to take this opportunity to forward one(1) more point/incentive:

Two Hundred Thousand (200,000)

That is the number of premature deaths that are directly attributable to the toxic particulate matter and associated caustic fumes that are emitted by ICE vehicle exhausts yearly.

You'd think that the sustenance of Life itself, including their own and that of their children, would be enough of a reason, enough of an incentive, to sway conventional automakers to adopt EV drive line technology and discard the conventional, now long antiquated ICE tech of yesteryear.

Well, any rationally minded individual would think that'd be enough, so what does that say about those staunch ICE automobile manufacturers that just adamantly refuse to adapt to the new automotive technological paradigm...?

Think about it.

blue adept | 12 november 2014


When those 50-100K Audi S8's (I prefer the "Sportback" BTW, from a purely aesthetics point of view) become actual BEV's then, and only then, can they be considered "competition" to the Tesla's.

Oh! Wait a minute...

Perhaps that day isn't all that far away (fingers are crossed)?!

Brian H | 12 november 2014

And I will keep cautioning people to believe such extrapolations at the peril of their intelligence. Linear No Threshold means Vitamin A, deadly in high doses, is a poison to be avoided?

blue adept | 12 november 2014

@Brian H


blue adept | 13 november 2014

@Brian H

Do you feel your "intelligence" is 'imperiled'?

Timo | 13 november 2014

@jaa, my point is that Tesla isn't competing against other BEV:s. It is competing against other cars of it's class. It being BEV is just a small detail. That's the right way of doing business, don't build a car for just niche market, build it for everyone that can afford it.

Model S isn't just great BEV, it is great car.

Red Sage ca us | 13 november 2014

jaa: Isn't that photo just of the front end of the AUDI version of the Volkswagen e-Golf...?


Rocky_H | 13 november 2014

I think the competitor car companies do realize that there are two categories of EVs, based on their use case. As we have seen, everybody can get into the "city car" type of EV. The range of 80 miles works fine as the around town second vehicle situation. Plenty of companies can build that and are willing to, and they can sell in small numbers for people whose situations are OK with having two vehicles, with one being special purpose.

The thing is, I think they do realize that the second category is one that they don't want to get into because it is not just about the car. The other category of an all purpose EV has long range, but to make that mean anything, it also needs a highway network of really fast charging stations (Supercharger). To be effective at all, they have to be together in one package. For any company to build just the car without the charging network is pointless, and they know that, so they don't want to get into it. I think they are hoping that they can just wait, and other entities (cities, states, businesses) will build a charging network eventually, and then they could build a long range EV. But really, the Supercharger network is what makes this whole thing work for Tesla, so if a company is not willing to put a couple hundred million dollars into building out a really high speed charging network, I don't blame them for not building a good EV. That would be setting out to fail.

I think the potential competitor will be whoever is first willing to humble themselves enough to partner with Tesla to get access to Superchargers and make a car that can use them. But you know with the way large established auto makers are, that would be a near-miraculous corporate decision. So I'll watch for that moment, but I'm sure not going to hold my breath.

JeffreyR | 13 november 2014

@Rocky H

At $250K per Supercharger site, $200M means around 800 sites (likely less considering there are sites w/ expanded coverage). At $500K average you're talking 400 sites. Split the difference and you're talking 600 sites worldwide for $200M.

Does that sound like enough?

C: ztmyi

blue adept | 13 november 2014


Point well made.

I just tend to consider any car other than an actual BEV as no real comparison/competition to Tesla's MS and agree that I should, perhaps, solely think of it in the context of just another premium, luxury, sport sedan.

But when I do entertain such ruminations I encounter the reality that I am underselling its actual worth and, inasmuch as I don't prefer to lie to others, why should I lie to myself?!

The Model S's styling aesthetics, interior ergonomics, innovative power train design, structural engineering, articulate handling and exceptional performance not only instills it with peer-to-peer competitive aptitude, but allows it to surpass any would be wannabe and it would be foolhardy of anyone to overlook these attributes, let lone myself.

Other than that we are of one mind...

The Model S is a great car!

blue adept | 13 november 2014


Actually it's the nose of the Audi A3 e-tron Sportback:

Though, purely for the sake of context, aren't they both actually sorta one-in-the-same?

blue adept | 13 november 2014

EDIT: (for images)

3seeker | 13 november 2014

I agree with @Timo that the current competition are not BEV but a wide range luxury/sport ICEv from Porsche Panamera sedan to Audi Q8 SUVs. I'm sure those automakers, especially Porsche, are starting to feel the heat as the high demand for Tesla Model S & X are already eating into their sales.

@rrob1, quite a shame that Detroit Electric's SP01 with measly specs and $135K base price tag is set up for failure. Anyone ought to buy the P85D for that price.

Brian H | 14 november 2014

Side note about the Spock image: body language 'sperts, I seem to recall, see steepled fingers as, "I'm smarter than you, so listen up!" More assertively when spread. I dunno what the Vulcan 'V' would show, except that you're a Trekkie. I can do it, but don't.

blue adept | 14 november 2014

Spock was the Chief Science Officer on the Enterprise, Star Trek's flagship space vessel (thank God for NetFlix, Hulu, Google Play and the like) and was noted for his superior intellect.

Damn! I can't even agree with people without catching flack...!

Whatever! I guess I'll just have to shake it off...

blue adept | 14 november 2014

And, yes, I am somewhat of a geeky, nerdy, techie kind of guy.

Deal with it, live long and prosper!

Red Sage ca us | 14 november 2014

Live well, and be awesome.


Brian H | 15 november 2014

What's funny is that Nimoy couldn't actually do it. Had to have a stage hand arrange his fingers for him before the camera cut to him. The wonders of Vulcan editing.

Being noted by others for superior intellect is different from noting it for yourself and subliminally sharing your opinion. Especially when it turns out to be wrong.

Sin_Gas | 15 november 2014

Rocky H

You are right on. Its the SC network that makes this all work. This is the true Tesla advantage. Most of the rest is not Rocket Science, except for maybe getting the juice out of the battery quickly for high performance.

Tesla uses 3x to 4x the battery size and goes 3x to 4x in range. No magic there.

But its a great car, make no mistake and flawless execution. Great Customer Service.


Model ☰ | 15 november 2014

I just can't figure out what the major auto companies are thinking.

The question is "Are they thinking at all?!" ;)

JeffreyR | 15 november 2014

The 3-4x battery size takes some serious engineering. They need control software, cooling and multiple levels of protection to achieve it. On top of that they offer dual charging option of AC wall outlet or DC supercharger. Not that others could not figure it out too, but it's not as simple as just make a bigger battery.

Features & Benefits TM's Battery Pack Approach Include

- Modular design where a robot can swap out battery pack in 90 seconds.
- Low center of gravity bc. it's at the bottom of the car (most other batteries are much, much higher).
- Leverages small batteries in a pack instead of one or two big ones. Commodity pricing, additional layer of protection, and can control flow of juice. Improve the battery, and improve the pack w/o worrying about whether it will "fit" in the production line.
- Skateboard design allows different body types to have the same guts, so it's easy to add Model X (and others). ICE manufacturers need to worry about exhaust systems and transmissions in their "other" models.

blue adept | 19 november 2014

@Brian H

This is Leonard Nimoy from the Star Trek convention in '11:

I don't know if you're aware or not, but there weren't any "stage hands" around to "arrange his fingers for him" but, yeah, he had to practice, just like everyone else.

blue adept | 19 november 2014


Because they are likely trying to manufacture the impression that for any BEV to be real-world/market viable with any appreciable range it has to be expensive because of the technology required as optics are important in shaping/swaying public impression/opinion.

Unfortunately for them, Tesla Motors is going to expose them for the B.S.'ers/frauds they are with the release of their GEN III model (snicker, snicker).

blue adept | 19 november 2014


Even without the use of the SC network the Model S enjoys a 265 mile range all on its own which is well within the specs to meet the requirements of your average, every day commuter who, with the use of their own installed wall charger (or even just a 220V outlet) for overnight/downtime charging, can enjoy relatively endless miles of free, emission-less driving at their hearts' content.

You gotta love that!

blue adept | 19 november 2014


Were you aware that General Murderers, "GM" as they're typically known, the manufacturers of the now infamous EV-1, came up with the whole "skateboard" platform idea back in 2002:

Though they originally introduced it as a hydrogen fuel cell platform.

Just Google "GM Hy-wire" and see for yourself.

Red Sage ca us | 19 november 2014

The news this afternoon was very excited to cover the Greter Los Angeles Auto Show. One segment covered an upcoming Nissan product represented by an Infiniti branded concept car. It was a futuristic sedan with four seats, an open design (with a huge longitudinal diviing wall), a 600 HP hybrid motor and autonomous driving capabilities. Coming soon, of course.

JeffreyR | 20 november 2014

@Just an Allusion

I thought Lee Iacocca was given credit for the concept. I did not mean to imply that it was unique to or introduced by Tesla Motors. But their platform takes it to a whole new level bc. drivetrain is so much easier to re-use or tweak. It also means low CG and lots of space left over :)

blue adept | 20 november 2014


It was actually originally designed by Adrian Chernoff:

Though, yes, it took Tesla Motors to expand on and fully exploit the low profile platform to realize its full potential.

blue adept | 20 november 2014

@Red Sage

Do you mean this?:

Touted as their "Q80 Inspiration"...?

Too bad it's still just another "hybrid".

blue adept | 20 november 2014

More pics:

Anemometer | 20 november 2014

I hope when they face lift the model s they go for something like that ;)

Red Sage ca us | 20 november 2014

Yeah, that's it, longitudinal divider and all. Open design, eh? Where? No way that survives side impact testing.

This is why Tesla Motors doesn't build concept cars.

blue adept | 20 november 2014

Yeah, why waste the time and energy on "concepts" when you can just build the real thing/a truly market viable vehicle...?!