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  1. Why haven't car manufacturers caught up with Tesla's automobiles?

  2. E.g. why haven't the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, VW e-Golf driven (pun intended) TSLA out of business?

    I list TSLA's advantages that don't appear grueling or covert or confidential to mimic, like its exterior appearance. Yet u/skogoa wrote that "Tesla is very good at marketing. Their technology isn't all that special but they have managed to build quite a lot of hype."

i_start_fires. 62 points 5 years ago

Well, they're the only company producing cars that can run 250+ miles on electric power alone. They are single-handedly building a network of charging stations in the US making cross-country electric travel a viable reality for the first time. They recently released their entire patent portfolio into the public domain, allowing any company to use their electric car, battery, and charger designs for free.

Turtlecupcakes. Aug 25 2013.

  • Their range nearly competes with gas (2-300 miles, I believe)

  • They look like high-end vehicles, not some pile of plastic that runs on batteries.

  • The entire in-car dashboard and computer system is built from the ground up so that software can control nearly every single motor, display, relay, and so on. This means that all sorts of functionality can be added at any point through firmware updates. Most existing car manufacturers just build new cars on the old computer systems that were basically hardwired to perform specific function. (So even though the AC is digitally controlled, the only way to change its behavior is to basically take the car apart, pull out the microcontroller, and reprogram it.)

NiceTryNSA. 26 points. Aug 26 2013.

Recently, they beat out all other cars PERIOD in safety ratings, getting the highest safety rating ever awarded to a vehicle. On the corner-load test, Telsa actually broke NHTS's $250,000 machine.

Also: C&D Car of the Year, and Consumer Reports gave it the highest score ever given to a car: a 99/100.

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  • $\begingroup$ I find this whole notion surreal. To the best of my knowledge, there are no EV's in the state of North Carolina, There are no EV dealers in NC, there are no technicians qualified to service EV's in NC, and I have never seen an EV in my life anywhere. So I'm not sure how you put something out of business that is not yet in business. Trying to find info on EV's from official state sources like the DMV was impossible. I was basically told to f**k off when I finally tracked down the DMV data guy at the state capitol. I had better luck with dealerships and tech schools. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    May 8, 2020 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ I know of 4 recharging stations in the neighboring counties. The people who manage the properties told me they have never been used. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    May 8, 2020 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ @PhilSweet well, even small towns (pop of the Canton is just over 4000) where I live have ev charging stations - perhaps some places are more developed than others? Or have a different attitude to the issues faced today - considering things like building efficiency etc. There are also charging stations at the services on the motorways... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    May 8, 2020 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ Being the first to produce what is perceived as good product & then having the marketing to support the product provides a very good advantage. Competitors then have to play catch up. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    May 8, 2020 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ @PhilSweet Where I live in the UK, every off-street city car park has charging points. The nearest large town (population 250,000) has 3 EV car dealerships (but none for Tesla). Small town USA isn't the pinnacle of world technology, and never has been. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    May 8, 2020 at 12:30

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The other car manufacturers have nothing to gain from destroying Tesla, and nothing much to lose by letting it potter along in its own little niche market.

Tesla seems to have made the brain-dead strategic decision to play "not invented here" with everything. Don't collaborate with battery manufacturers, build your own battery plants. Don't use existing dealerships for sales and service, build your own network from scratch. Build your own proprietary national (or international) charging station network. And so on, and so on.

Patents don't have any value unless you can use the technology efficiently. As a wannabe global car manufacturer Tesla is hopelessly inefficient compared with the competition. That's one reason they have never succeeded in making a profit consistently for a whole year. In terms of "vehicles produced per employee per year", they are a factor of three behind the industry leaders. If they fixed that problem at their current output level, and kept their current (top of the market range) prices, they would be making \$1bn to \$2bn profit a year, instead of numbers hovering around zero. (That estimate ignores any one-off costs involved in firing about 30,000 employees, which is what they would need to do play in the same league as the competition). Those profit figures would still be peanuts compared with GM's \$14bn or Toyota's \$50bn in 2019.

This inefficiency issue is even more strange, because logically an EV should be a much simpler product to manufacture than a conventional car.

From the point of view of GM or Toyota, a partnership with Tesla would be like an international Olympic squad choosing to become dependent on "athletes" who can just about run 100 meters in 30 seconds, and manage a high jump of 2 feet six inches.

Of course the Tesla fanboys don't care about any of this. So long as Musk remains a god, they will buy. What happens when Musk either discovers he isn't immortal, or gets bored with cars and takes personal leadership of his plan to colonize Mars by taking a one-way trip there, is "tomorrow's problem".

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  • $\begingroup$ Plus 1 for the basic realization that you only try to put someone out of business if there is something to gain by it. There are massive swaths of the US with zero EV market penetration. At least plant a flag in these places before going to war over a not-yet-profitable operation. And Tesla doesn't really compete with Leaf, so what is the point? $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    May 8, 2020 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @PhilSweet but I would much rather be seen getting out of a Tesla than a Leaf... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    May 9, 2020 at 6:32

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