Should GM Lose Sleep Over Tesla?
Should GM fret at the thought of Tesla? The Big 3 automakers had sneered at electric vehicles (EVs) for years, but a slow shift is underway. Ford has its plug-ins with the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi; Chrysler, thanks to Fiat, has a little toe in the EV waters with the 500e on California roads; and GM touts the Volt and Spark EV.
Speaking of GM, the stodgy automaker may be slowly changing its ways: CEO Dan Akerson told Bloomberg in an interview last week the company is taking a close look at Tesla Motors to gauge how the Silicon Valley upstart could eventually threaten GM's business.
Considering GM still draws the ire of electric car advocates years after the EV1 saga, Ackerson's comments might induce eye-rolling. But the road to electrification, while full of potholes, is underway; and speaking of Tesla, the company scored its first profitable quarter this year and has a market capitalization now slightly higher than Fiat. Meanwhile, Ackerson has succeeded in changing GM's sclerotic and inward-looking company culture. With a new focus on innovation and design, electrification has got to be part of any automaker's strategy. A close examination of Tesla and its success would only be logical on GM's behalf.
While the Big 3's new electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) are exciting, they are still rather pedestrian compared to the Tesla. Having driven the C-MAX, Fusion, Volt and Spark EV, they indeed demonstrate impressive advances in EV technology. But they are all modeled after cars with a conventional ICE engine—logical for a PHEV, but not necessary for a full electric car. And while it is true these cars' range on a full electric drive is plenty sufficient for most commuters, "range anxiety" is still the bugaboo the automakers have got to overcome. Tesla's Model S, meanwhile, boasts a stunningly superior design and a range of up to 265 miles. Of course, the Model S has one huge drawback: its price, which ranges from $62,400 to $87,400, is out of reach for most drivers.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, TriplePundit.
Electric car image via Shutterstock.