Der Spiegel Calls Tesla Biggest Concern For German Automakers

Tesla Model 3

SEP 24 2017 BY EVANNEX 34


The Tesla Model S and Model X (Instagram: cargy)


Germany’s top automakers have been plagued by an unprecedented crisis related to cartels and collusion surrounding their beloved diesel engine technology. Now, having turned their backs on electric vehicles for years, they’re facing another existential challenge. Der Spiegel* reports, “The biggest cause for concern in the German auto industry is an American rival, Tesla. Founded in 2003, it has achieved what the German manufacturers failed to do for years: build an electric car that many customers want.”

Tesla’s Model S outsells Mercedes S-Class, Porsche Panamera, and BMW 6/7 Series combined in the US. And even on their home turf, the German auto giants are facing increased pressure from this Silicon Valley rival.

It’s reported that Tesla: “has more than doubled its German sales in the first half of 2017, for a total of 2,000 vehicles. This is an impressive number for Germany, which lags behind other developed nations when it comes to electric cars.”

However, there’s an inherent problem when trying to fight Tesla, “unlike the German automakers, Tesla does not have to worry about a massive existing [internal combustion engine] car business. This helps explain Tesla’s aggressive approach to marketing, which makes it seem like the company is less interested in selling cars than in changing the way the world uses energy…. [Tesla’s] message sounds more convincing than that of the German auto industry, which constantly fluctuates between commitments to electromobility and statements of loyalty to the internal combustion engine.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman.


BMW’s latest concept car is supposed to showcase its bold, albeit distant, all-electric future (Image: Der Spiegel*)

Klaus Fröhlich, BMW‘s head of development describes Germany as a country “where they like to talk about e-mobility” but where “relatively little is being done.” He blames policymakers, pointing out that Munich, for example, currently has only 50 charging stations. Der Spiegel adds that “some of the [German auto] companies’ efforts to prepare for the future seem half-hearted. In late 2016, Daimler, Ford, BMW, and VW announced a joint initiative for rapid-charging stations. The project was scheduled to begin in 2017, with about 400 locations across Europe planned in the first phase.”

So what’s happened beyond the much-hyped press release?

“Nine months have passed since the announcement and the current number of charging stations is still zero. The first charging station is expected to open this year, allegedly with charging technology superior to Tesla’s. By comparison, Tesla has already installed more than 6,300 of its so-called Superchargers worldwide. It aims [to] increase that number to 10,000 by the end of the year.”


A Tesla Model S and BMW i3 both charging at a public charger in Europe (Image: Drivezing)

Regardless, in an exclusive interview with Der Spiegel, BMW’s Fröhlich claims he “actually wants to talk about BMW and his planned electric strategy, not about the competition. But he keeps coming back to the company’s California rival. The BMW executive mentions the word ‘Tesla’ 16 times within 60 minutes. He sees BMW as being ‘neck and neck’ with Tesla, but plans to have trumped his US rival in no more than three years.” He joins an ever-growing chorus of industry executives who’ve downplayed any threat from Tesla.

Not all industry execs have taken this posture. Karl-Thomas Neumann, head of German carmaker Opel before it was sold to GM’s French rival PSA, has a somewhat different point of view. While German automakers drag their feet on vehicle electrification efforts, Neumann believes, “Tesla now has a cult status that other brands can only dream of.”


Another look at Tesla’s Model S and X (Instagram: cargy)

With international rivals like BYD and Tesla, Neumann feels that the German auto industry, “runs the risk of being outpaced by new competitors from China and the United States.” He believes the Germans need to “accept that diesel is gradually going extinct.” In turn, he recommends Germany’s car companies use the money they save to invest heavily in electromobility.

But change is difficult. Germany’s top automakers have moved slowly to match the furious pace of progress Tesla has achieved (and plans for) in areas like electric vehicle battery development and its forthcoming Tesla Network ride-sharing platform.

Meanwhile, Der Spiegel reminds us, “The [German auto] industry spent decades resisting overly substantial changes. Anyone who talked about electromobility or car sharing in the 1990s was immediately mocked.”

That legacy of resisting the future just might leave Germany’s automakers in the past.


*Source: Der Spiegel

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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34 Comments on "Der Spiegel Calls Tesla Biggest Concern For German Automakers"

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bla bla, always the same phrases. First it was Japanese who would killed German Automakers, them the Korean, later the chinese and now one company is anough.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX. Those guys love bashing German automakers, cause they’re scared ton run out of business once the Germans decide to go electric

Good read but i do believe that the Germans will lose some marketshare if GM gets off thier ass and start producing and marketing thier car of the year

Jack continued his FUD campaign:

“Those guys love bashing German automakers, cause they’re scared ton run out of business once the Germans decide to go electric…”


It’s you Tesla short-selling haters who are scared. Even those of us who don’t follow the stock market can tell when Tesla’s stock is up significantly, ‘cuz you haters always panic when that happens, and rush to flood InsideEVs comment threads with Tesla hater posts.

But let’s check… My my, TSLA hit a new high just last Monday, didn’t it?
😀 😀 😀

Tesla has already done something that the japanese and koreans never managed to achieve.
They created a brand that is perceived as premium an
cutting edge technology. A lot of people now think of all the german brands as outdated.

Your name MAY be James but English is not your first language, is it?

No doubt the germans will build some stellar EVs by 2020. I’m more concerned with the lack of a comprehensive DC charging network.

Everyone seems to be sitting on their hands waiting for governments to build it for them as a form of public infrastructure.

I’ve never even seen a 100kw CCS station, yet alone the promised 350kw stations, but I’ve been to a dozen superchargers.

“We are our own worst enemies”…Stubborn as They are, with their constantly maintainable, over serviced, over rated ,over priced, over hyped superior built German cars, will be the one’s that shall be mocked in the very near future. I for one have had “my fill” of the German Kaveman Klunker Technology . Can’t wait to get my Model 3 !

Not only the german manufacturers but each and all car manufacturers and car consumers are near bankrupcy by these constant subsidies and green regulations that everyone have to comply with. Nobody in the entire green market is making any profits except grants from the taxpayers.

Do U Know that 0iL producers Get BILLIONS of $$$$in Subsidies from The Government …Check it out…These EV rebates are are an Insult compared to the Billions $$$ they get…

Another EV hater comes to “share” his FUD and hate on a forum for those interested in EVs. How nice.

According to his FUD, PEVs could never compete with gasmobiles on a level playing field, so obviously won’t be sold anymore when governments decide to end the subsidies. If so, then what is he so afraid of?

But hey, we should give him credit for not being stupid enough to believe his own lies. 🙄

That about wraps it up in a Nut Shell…

Well these automakers deserve some of the criticism. Formerly Audi head for most of his career, Johann DeNysschen, has been an EV-Hater from way back, stating, “Electric Cars are Dumb… People should drive clean Diesels”. That crap plus dishonest emissions controls have cost these companies several $Billion. Plus now it appears customers are finally looking ELSEWHERE for their automotive needs. So these CEO’s might lose their happy multi-millions if people stop buying their cars.

Apparently that idiotic group think among high Euro executives means they all initially ignored EV’s but now are just doing enough to remain in the Game, providing vehicles which meet minimal Euro range requirements of 14 miles.

OF course, they are all quick to point out that they have serious products 10-15 years in the future. But they said that 5 years ago also.

I wish Caddy would dump DeNysschen so Caddy would continue with real EV’s. Not that joke Ct6 phev which essentially no one will buy in the states, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Chinese sales also sucked.

There is already plenty of real ev and they are not selling and on top lose dollar on the exchange for the manufacturer.

I clearly said to bring it here in north-america the gas serial hybrid nissan note e-power that is selling in huge number in japan. I don’t want a pure ev, i want a gas serial hybrid that is cheap and return over 100 mpg.

Hey, dude… can I have some of what you’re smokin’?

Now that guy knows his stuff! “NOT”….. l m a o …To that!

Another Euro point of view

IMHO Tesla does indeed represent a threat to German car makers. There is indeed something that Tesla seems to have understood about millennial demand that German car makers have a hard time to get. To me BMW and Mercedes appear somewhat messy, over complicated body forms and dashboards. We need simplicity and EVs are wonderful for that. Maybe the Model 3 interior is a bit extreme in its simplicity but at least it is a refreshing sight as compared to Mercedes for example.

Hear, hear.

History is littered with companies unable to quickly adopt to changing technology even if closely related – who remembers transportation heavyweights Baldwin Locos or Pullman sleeper railcars? ICE OEMs anywhere better take a trip to the museum!

Well, would not be the 1st time a traditional German industrial sector is outpaced by foreign competitors, especially from Asia. Ever heard of German consumer electronics? or cameras? No? Believe it or not: they both did exist, but long since gone. There are jokes about it, that belong to German geek culture:

Right now car makers in Germany try to bribe owners of old Diesel cars, to buy a new ICE car. You even get a 5.000€ extra discount, in total about 12.000€ when you buy a VW e-Golf.
Well, it’s still about 25.000€ and you don’t get a full-featured car, just a compliance car. I won’t fall for that bait. I keep my 18 year old car, which consumes less than 3 liters Diesel/100km, and save my money for a Model 3 in two years, given that they provide a tow hitch. There’s nothing more convincing than money walking out of the door.

Great joke.

Great joke? G Apropos but great by German standards only. Germans don’t do humor.

Election day in Germany.

Angela Merkel has won the elections again, and she will be Chancellor for the next 4 years in Germany, just like the past 12 years.

I think that in 2018 and beyond the government in Germany will demand from the German car manufacturers to make a much more serious effort towards electrification.

Facts rule this world. Here are the facts:

Jun 12, 2012· Diesel engine fumes can cause lung cancer and belong in the same potentially deadly category as asbestos, … Diesel exhaust fumes cause lung cancer…
Diesel exhaust fumes cause lung cancer, WHO ( World Heath Organization) says | Reuters

I too believe Mercedes and BMW’s days are numbered in the US. However, they account for a very small fraction of total car sales in the US and small fraction of emissions. What Tesla needs to do is get GM and Ford in their cross hairs. Pickup truck market is the true gold mine in the US and Tesla needs to step up their game. A no frills, medium to heavy duty truck with 10,000lb GVWR and 12,000lb towing capacity and 200 mile range and make it $50-$60K.. that’s the vehicle that will accelerate the plug-in S-curve.

RE: Tesla Truck

I think we’re seeing a separation. CUVs are getting the sales numbers, while the classic F150/Silverado market remains its own. Tesla won’t grab that share, because enough of them tow or go on less predictable long-distance journeys that no “200 mile” battery will work.

Where PHEV struggles in car sales (nothing as compelling as the Volt, or close to main stream), I think it will be different and required that a PHEV truck effectively straddles the daily gas-for-electricity swap, with an all-gas ability when leaving town.

“BMW’s latest concept car is supposed to showcase its bold, albeit distant, all-electric future ”

Actually, the concept car looks to me like it was specifically designed to keep people thinking that EV’s are something years away in the future, in order to distract from the fact that they are very much a thing this year.

The concept of this concept car in the photo is a delay tactic.

Tesla has no plan to destroy German and any car manufacture. They are making a attractive product so other manufactures have to catch up and make them too.
There is a huge market out there, even Tesla can make 5 millions cars a year in the future, no one is going out of business.

Tesla is the brand that made all this happen.
But the future will be smaller an cheaper BEVs. We will see lots of new brands like Sion that will show the market what the market wants and needs.

To make the transition to electrification happen, we need EV models to sell in much greater numbers than they currently do.

The Tesla Model 3 will be the first EV model to do just that.

It will be interesting to see how many new Nissan Leafs will be sold in 2018 and beyond.

Stop comparing Model S to Mercedes S. BMW7, Audi A8. It’s Merc E class, BMW5, Audi A6. And it does not outsell those …

Never underestimate Germans to adapt. Especially when it’s in their core competency: industry.
They are usually slow to adapt and change but once it’s done they go like Panzer divizionen.

(By the way I’m not German. )

Toyota shut down Scion last year.