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Given that Elon Musk is as clever and crazy as Nikola Tesla, it's no wonder he named his electric car company after the infamous inventor.
Regardless of what you think of Mr Musk himself, it can not be denied that his injection of many billions of dollars into Tesla motors and the vehicles it is trying so hard to produce, has shaken the car industry to its roots.
Who would have thought, a few short years ago, that EVs would become so mainstream so very quickly?
However, it's my own opinion that Tesla has peaked and although it has paved the way for future EVs, it is about to be trampled by its competitors.
We have seen how difficult it has been for Tesla motors to overcome the most fundamental elements of mass production. Its attempt to introduce massive levels of automation have been plagued with real-world problems that have caused planned production levels to me missed.
The things that Tesla is struggling most with, are the things that other car makers have been doing for years -- masterfully.
It stands to reason therefore, that when VW, Ford, Toyota and other manufacturers start rolling out *their* mainstream EVs, Tesla will be very much on the back foot.
Musk's company has done the hard work for everyone. The most daunting hurdle in the evolution of the EV has been establishing its credibility as a viable form of personal transport when pitted against the tried and tested fuel-burning cars we've driven for over a century. Establishing that credibility has been hugely expensive -- and Tesla has footed the bill for that.
So right now we find Tesla burning huge amounts of cash, owing huge amounts of money and still not able to produce vehicles at a rate or cost that will make it profitable.
Meanwhile, the other existing "big names" in the auto industry have been quietly sitting on the sidelines watching Mr Musk, watching the market's reaction, watching consumer demand and waiting for the time to pounce.
Although some traditional auto-makers have tentatively dipped their toes in the water with over-priced, underperforming EVs, I think these were simply created to show that they weren't totally out of the game. They were place-holders, not really intended to be mass-market successes.
However, I'm picking that over the next year or two, we're going to see a veritable onslaught of new EVs out of Europe and Japan.
The traditional auto makers are now convinced that EVs are viable and they want to capitalise on all the money that Tesla has spent convincing people of this.
Word on the street is that VW is about to announce something pretty affordable with excellent range and performance, and at least one of the South Korean companies is set to do the same. Then there's the already extremely popular Nissan Leaf and a potential sea of EVs out of Japan.
What else makes me think that Tesla has peaked?
Well Musk himself has been one of the key factors in the success of the Tesla vehicles to date. Everyone loves an outlaw, and Musk very much acts like an outlaw -- scoffing at the laws of physics and ignoring convention. This is great when you're trying to build a brand -- but not so great once you've established that brand and it's time to deliver on promises.
I personally, would much rather be spending my money on something which I know has been carefully engineered by a company with a proven track record in the field and who understand *all* aspects of the technologies they're working with. Cars are most people's second most valuable asset so you want to choose carefully to protect that investment.
Right now, Elon Musk is actually damaging the Tesla brand. His outrageous statements to the media (pedo boy???) and now sucking on some whacky-backy during a podcast will almost certainly cause some people to rethink whether they hand their hard-earned money over to a company run by this guy. That can be seen in the fairly significant fall in Tesla stock prices after the MJ broadcast.
The board of Tesla should kick Musk to the curb and distance themselves from him right now... before he does more damage. His work there is done, he needs to move on and stop eroding public trust and confidence in the company. Sadly, I don't think Musk is the sort of guy who can step away -- I think he'll hang on like grim death.
So what's the EV scene going to look like in a year's time?
Well Tesla will still be trying to sell the same models they've had (supposedly) on the market for several years now. They'll be selling *OLD* cars.
Meanwhile, the VWs, Toyotas, Fords and other mainstream auto-makers will be rolling out *NEW* designs that have more stylish lines, more up-to-date features and shorter delivery-times. These are brands that also have well-established dealer networks and service centres. Yes... EVs DO need attention from time to time. In fact I see that the Tesla Model S was rated one of the four *LEAST* reliable cars of 2018 in the UK.
If Musk keeps eroding the Tesla brand and other auto-makers step up to the plate with more competitive, better-made EVs, I can see the Tesla star dimming and fading very, very quickly. They have blazed a fantastic trail -- but they'd better lift their game or they're going to be run-over in the EV stampede.
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