Tesla Model S is Slowly But Surely Eliminating Potential Future Competitors

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 27

100,000 of Panasonic's Cells Power Today's Model S Sedans

Tesla Model S Has No Electric Competition Today

First to fall is the Audi R8 e-tron.  The Jaguar C-X75 is also gone. The Cadillac ELR is now a “limited” production run a likely MSRP to match its status.  Which vehicle is next?

The Electric R8 Project Proved The One Thing Un-Saveable By Tony Stark

The Electric R8 Project Proved The One Thing Un-Saveable By Tony Stark

Some say the Infiniti LE (officially only delayed for now) will meet the same fate as the Audi R8 e-tron and that may well be true.

So, what’s this mysterious object that’s leading to the elimination of potential future electric vehicles?

It’s the Tesla Model S.

The success of the Model S, coupled with its capabilities and Tesla’s commitment to constantly making the electric vehicle ownership experience even grander than we’d of imagined, is creating quite a problem amongst some of the Model S’ potential rivals.

Why would Audi move forth with the R8 e-tron when the Model S beats it in almost every aspect?  Audi won’t.  The R8 e-tron is dead and, rightfully so.  With a 0 to 62 mph time of 4.2 second, a price tag estimated at $150,000 (cost to build estimated at $1.3 million a pop) and a range of only 133 miles, the R8 e-tron can’t compete with the Model S.  Audi realized this and so take the proper step of terminating the no-longer-competitive electric R8.

There’s is rumor that delayed Infiniti LE will meet the same fate as the R8 e-tron.  While unlikely, it will surely be reworked as a more capable machine than was shown in the concept LE in 2012 in order to compete with the Tesla.

It does seem that several automakers are now contemplating whether or nor (and how) to move forward with vehicles that compete in the same space as the Model S.

We reckon most won’t, at least not until those vehicles are up to par, but will they ever be?

It’s not like Tesla is going to sit around idly waiting for the competition to catch up.  No, Tesla is already advancing its current product offering and future models will surely build on what the Model S has to offer.

Is there an automaker out there willing to directly compete with Tesla?  If so, who will that be and, will it be a success or flop in the face of Tesla’s unmatched ability to deliver precisely what buyers want?.

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27 responses to "Tesla Model S is Slowly But Surely Eliminating Potential Future Competitors"

  1. David Murray says:

    The Cadillac ELR may offer some competition, but it greatly depends on how it is priced. It better be less than $50,000 if they want to sell any of them. Once they get into Tesla’s price range, I suspect it will be hard to compete.

    1. kdawg says:

      The Cadillac can be priced the same as the 60kWh model S in the $60K+ range, but it is a different vehicle than the S. I think some may cross shop, but I see the ELR as more of people wanting to take the step from ICE to EV, rather than making the full jump to BEV. Also, the Caddy is going to be more luxurious and smoother ride, where the S is more focused on speed.

      To answer Eric’s question, I think it will be GM, Ford, and Chrysler/Fiat who will create something to directly compete with the S. The Model S was the original motivation for Lutz (and the Big 3) to move back into the EV biz. These three companies are currently selling BEV’s now. They just need to make them bigger & better to compete. However we may see a competitor for the Model X before the Model S.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Actually per Lutz’s own words, the Tesla Roadster (or its predecessor t200 or something like that) was the inspiration. The model S design was not gelled yet.

        THE ELR, while a nicer style than the volt, will still have to go through one more stylized sweetening before I’ll fork over that amount of money… But at least GM is trying.

        I still say a Big Phev will be very profitable for whomever comes out with it first. They will have no competition. If there remains nothing, then Musk will be wildly successful with the “X” since it will be the only vehicle in its class.

        Why these dopey other manufacturers can’t see this is beyond me. We have enough teardrop shaped cookie cutter cars out there.

        1. KenZ says:

          When you mean Big Phev, you mean SUV? What about that Mitsubishi Outlander thing that’s supposed to hit the US next year?

          1. Bill Howland says:

            I mean a big car. If the traditional car companies still don’t feel comfortable making a huge electric sedan (say a totally electric chevy tahoe or lincoln navigator – I only use those examples because no American manufacturer makes a big car any more. But say an old Lincoln Continental (the old ones) or a Cadillac Fleetwood), with a 250-300 hp electric motor and a 120 kwh battery (in otherwords, like a Tesla S , but MORE), maybe they can test the waters with a 30 kwh battery, standard 3.3 kw charger, and 4 cylinder battery charger giving around 50-60 miles totally electric operation for most commuter driving/shopping, but then for long trips a 100-130 hp 4 cylinder would keep the battery from dying completely on vacations, weekend trips, etc. The engine could also be used to provide hot water to keep the battery from getting too cold, and making the defroster work. Electric heat in a very large vehicle with huge windshield area doesn’t work, unless maybe gold wires in the windshield, which no-one seems to do anymore.

            But anyway, Tesla currently is the only manufacturer even trying to make something other than a compact car.

            Perhaps if any of this chinese stuff turns out to be ok (BYD Busses for instance), they will use their experience with large vehicles (400 hp motor, 325 kwh battery) to also make large prestigious vehicles for the Communist party members, and also sell them elsewhere.

      2. ThomasF says:

        A “smoother ride”? Have you ever ridden in a Model S? It’s like driving on glass. The frame is so rigid that it just shrugs off bumps. With it’s silent EV drive train its one of the most zen cars I’ve ever driven in. You can absolutely drive it for speed, but you can also put grandma in it and glide out to the mall, no muss, no fuss.

    2. Taser54 says:

      Some people, just don’t want a Tesla. The ELR will sell.

      1. ThomasF says:

        They should sell. But for my part if I’m paying Tesla money I’m getting a Tesla (which I am). And if I don’t want to pay that much I’ll get a Volt (which I considered a couple of years ago when it came out).

      2. Bonaire says:

        My guess is the ELR will sell about 300-400 the first month out and 200-300 per month after that.

    3. MTN Ranger says:

      Even more similar to the ELR than the Model S is the BMW i8 PHEV. It will have 20 miles of range with an ICE backup (and needed for full power).

      1. George Parrott says:

        Have you driven or even ridden in a Model S? I can assure you it has a wonderfully compliant ride and GREAT interior space. I do not think the ELR is any competition at all EXCEPT for those, as noted, not ready to fully commit to “pure” battery power.

        Disclaimer: I own a 2011 Volt and a 2011 Leaf, and just took delivery on a 2013 Model S.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          …and now you are widely hated on the site, (=

          /jealousy

      2. George Parrott says:

        And the i8 is projected to cost around $100-120,000 as a base price, so how does that “compete” with an ELR price territory? Further the i8 0-60 will bury the ELR and the keep going out to 150 mph range.

        On the other hand a You Tube video just popped up showing a Model S leaving one of the i8 test cars quickly in the rear view mirror… And a fully optioned Model S will be likely $20,000 less than the i8 at base!

        1. Brian H says:

          i8 at 150 mph? No chance. 😉

          Note that only the Leaf, so far, is a real BEV. The rest fake it with “extenders”, which means gas cars with big batteries.

          Musk has a standing offer to collaborate with any maker — for a reasonable price. MB may have the cojones to do so. The rest, apparently not so much.

          1. Brian H says:

            Correction. misread mph as mpg. Doh. The i8 might reach that mph figure.

  2. Taser54 says:

    The ELR was ALWAYS a limited production run. As for eliminating competitors, Tesla has not done this. Audi will announce tomorrow that the E-tron is back … and then put it on hold next week (that is their pattern-Tesla has had little effect). The Infiniti development is there and will be ready for the next gen of batteries (with the commensurate reductions in cost).

    No, I don’t agree that Tesla, a company only making a profit through EV credits, is eliminating any competitors. It makes a nice car, but let’s get serious here: Why are there so many luxury marks? Why hasn’t one luxury car manufacturer eliminated its competitors?

    It’s because people have different tastes. That’s why BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac, Infiniti, and Lexus have existed for years before Tesla and they will continue to exist AND other than Mercedes, will enter the EV Luxury segment in the next few years.

  3. Kimmi says:

    The article is right on one thing: Regarding BEV’s, Tesla is one generation ahead (Range, price, etc) of everybody, so it’s not likely that the Model S will have direct competition in the short term, but if we include Plug-in Hybrids, it’s a different game with contenders coming in the future from the usual suspects: Audi (next gen A6 e-tron), Mercedes (S and E-class PHEV) and BMW, as an appetizer for that, this summer Tesla will have competition from the Porsche Panamera Plug-in, a very desirable car.

    So, the danger for Tesla is not on the short term, but looking into the future.

    Assuming that plug-ins will be the way to go in the future, established manufacturers will have more R&D resources and will develop cars faster than Tesla (proof of evidence: the time it will take for the Model X to arrive), so that “one generation ahead” gap should decrease in the next years, unless Tesla joins forces with an established automaker like Toyota or Mercedes, then, with the know-how and resources to back it up, Tesla should have a bright future as a leftfield brand for the car-cognoscenti.

  4. Rob says:

    “the R8 e-tron can’t compete with the Model S”
    I do not know what the author smokes, but he should stop it. R8 cannot compete with Tesla because both cars belong in different market segments. It may sound unbelievable to the author but people do not buy sport supercars to do shopping. In all likelyhood buyers of R8 etron would already own Tesla. I never met an owner of Lambo who would not have a couple of other cars.

    1. evnow says:

      The point is not that someone won’t buy an R8 after owning a Model S. The point is – would they buy it if the “sports car” is not as capable as the “hatchback/sedan”.

      1. Rob says:

        Why do they buy Ferraris if they can have flying Bs equally fast and with bigger trunk (they are cheaper too – 380K versus 450K)??? You need to think like a Lambo driver not like a Chevy driver.

        1. Michael says:

          Buyers of Tesla Model S are very loyal to the brand. The next car they’ll buy is Tesla Model X SUV, then Tesla Model R Roadster.

          The observed tendency for new Model S is to SELL any Audis , BMWs or Marcedeses or Lambos they previously owned – not buy new ones!

  5. Dave K. says:

    I think he’s right on! Also when Tesla makes their “affordable” car in the $35K range a lot more cars will have to worry, how could you sell a Focus EV when you could get a Tesla?

  6. KenZ says:

    I agree and with most of the comments. However, you’re comparing to ‘top down’ models starting in the high end realm. There is also the bottoms up approach, with, as someone here noted, a much longer term perspective. In that area I submit the lowly Nissan Leaf, and the Volt. Neither of these cars is even close to the class of a Model S, or a whatever ‘low cost’ model Tesla comes out with next. Tesla clearly rules these areas, and will for a while.

    But Nissan is learning. A LOT, from mistakes in battery protection, to building high volume, to systems integration, to general electric drivetrains. And GM is learning. A LOT. Yes, theirs is a hybrid of sorts, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning crap tons about batteries, integration, electric motors, etc. Now look 20, 30 years into the future. Would anyone be surprised if after Gen 6 of the Nissan Leaf that Nissan rams electrics into a high end model?

    So yes, Tesla is destroying the high end cars. But they haven’t put a dent in the ‘low end’ cars; in fact, Tesla probably helps Leaf sales by getting people who can’t afford a Tesla interested, and visa versa where people learn about electrics, or even buy their first as a Leaf, and then upgrade to a Tesla.

    It’s all good.

  7. Dan Frederiksen says:

    Model S is embarrassing the existing car makers and so they are scrambling. But the irony here is that the unviable approach Tesla has taken in the form of a ton of batteries in a heavy car (2.1ton) actually puts a lot more pressure on the others because they can’t follow that approach because it’s unviable. A 2.1ton car weighs down everything in terms of parts cost, not least of which is the battery. Despite average sale price of 100k$ and 5000 sold per quarter, Tesla motors is still losing big money.
    But because the hype around Tesla is so great the stockmarket keeps bailing them out, most recently a cool one billion dollars.
    So Tesla is taking an approach others can’t follow and their loses are covered by stock market hype : )

    Of course the trick to EV viability is low weight, good aero and small agile pack with blitz charge. Keeps it all light and cheap. But idiots like Audi and Infiniti don’t know that.

    This impossibility is potentially interesting as it strongly erodes credibility in the establishment but it could also backfire if they simply refrain from making EVs because they can’t see a way to make it work.

    1. Michael says:

      Tesla is not losing money on cars – it is losing money due to extensive R&D Tesla is doing on the mass-produced generation 3 car! It is building two production lines at the moment – one for Model X SUV and another for 3rd gen mass-market cars.

      If Tesla just wanted to make money – it would do so 4 years ago with their first Tesla Roadster! Tesla wants to expand and compete with the big players – as soon as possible.

  8. Ryan says:

    Tesla needs to make 2 more versions of the Model S. An extreme range machine. One that puts the range issue out of the question. 1,000 miles. Put a double or triple pack in the floor.

    They need to make a super exotic version. Put 2 or 4 motors in it; possibly even an inverter drive for each motor. Put some “real tires” on it so it can put down some real impressive numbers. Pick up a Summit or Jeg’s catalog. Look at the DOT drag radials. It must be done.

    In the future; a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or mega Vette. 1,000+ HP will be hindered by insisting to use plain old hard highway tires.

    A company called UQM. Look them up. I’m sure they can build anything you want. Take this EV thing to the next level.

  9. George Strong says:

    Most likely scenario is that Tesla starts building more electric drivetrains for a “partner” around the time the Gen III hits the streets.