Tesla Exec Calls Other EVs “Little More Than Appliances”


Tesla's O'Connell

Tesla’s O’Connell

Tesla’s vice president of business development,  Diarmuid O’Connell, is taking some heat for a recent comment he made at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan.

According to O’Connell, the major OEMs put out electric cars that are “little more than appliances” (in reference specifically to EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Chevy Spark EV and Kia Soul EV).

Here’s what O’Connell actually stated:

“In essence, they’ve delivered little more than appliances. Now, appliances are useful. But they tend to be white. They tend to be unemotional.”

“On balance, I’m happier that they’re doing these cars than not. I just wish they would do them better and faster.”

O’Connell has made similar snide comments in the past and they weren’t received well, so you’d think he would’ve learned to ‘take the high road’ by now, but apparently not.

O’Connell added:

“It’s natural for folks whose business is vested in the existing technology to focus on that technology because it’s the foundation of their business, rather than taking a risk position on new and novel technology, especially when the automakers themselves aren’t supporting it.”

He is probably right, but we’ll leave it at that…

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Tesla


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70 Comments on "Tesla Exec Calls Other EVs “Little More Than Appliances”"

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In the article from automotive news O’Connel compares BASE model gasoline to base EVs. Every EV driver knows that most gasoline to EV models are totally different in standard equipment, price difference is less.
And he compares Model 3 2018 to 2015 models. I don’t see big difference in Bolt and Model 3 from performance and price (Bolt negotiable). Bolt bigger battery and two displays compared to scrimp Model 3 interior. Anf other manufactures will sure step up to the Bolt, but they can’t show their second generation EVs when they want to sell their first generation…

@Pete said: “…
I don’t see big difference in Bolt and Model 3 from performance and price (Bolt negotiable). ..”

For starters, an EV (sans ICE regen) to be practical as a primary car requiress access to a convenient & reliable supercharging network; the Bolt is missing 1/2 of the EV equation. Those that say Bolt covers 90%+ of the driving range use cases don’t understand the real world importance of also covering that last 10%.

Said another way, after my having spent much time with both a Chevy Volt & Tesla Model S I’d choose the Chevy Volt over the Chevy Bolt without hesitation.

Where I live the quick charger network is just fine, better than SC network. Look just the fastned article and you will see that not in every country the SC is the best option.

If we assume that Tesla will make their deadline – and that is a big if – the model 3 might be generally available for purchase (i.e. for people not already on the pre-order list) around 2020 at best, in 4 years.

In the last 2 years, CCS has gone from bugger all to over 2000 installations in Europe, the coverage is already pretty good. The trend line is linear so it’s reasonable to assume that in 4 years the number of installations will be at least 6000 which would give a very nice coverage. I don’t particularly know what it’s like in the USA but I would assume it’s about the same.

So when the model 3 is finally available any advantage of the Superchargers should be erased, at least when it comes to coverage. I’d also assume that in 2020 there should be plenty of 150 kW chargers around for both CCS and CHAdeMO (maybe even more than 150 kW).

In the US interior states there are no CCS or Chademo Chargers in-between the major cities. If you want to travel between cities then ICE cars or Tesla Superchargers are the only options at the moment.

VW and Nissan say they will address this issue, but GM has said they will not, and the other automakers have just kept quiet on the subject.


Yes u are 100 percent right ((even thow I am not a fan off u in the ufc lol)))I have a leaf and a tesla model s my leaf has never once been plugged into a dc charger and my tesla has proble seen 20 deffrent super chargers

Sure, it is lacking in the middle of the USA but it’s coming. As I wrote, there is at least 4 years until the model 3 is generally available for purchase, a lot of installations will happen during that time.

Let’s just hope both model 3 and Bolt are huge successes and have good charging infrastructure because we need all the eve we can get on the road.

GM’s mistake with the Bolt is, they’ve spec’ed out a $40,000 car with a $15,000 car suspension.

Secondly, let’s be honest, it’s a city car.
It’s like the BMW i3, except with a bad suspension.
It’s a great city/country car, but not a highway car.

The Volt and the Model 3 are performance/highway cars.
And the Volt rear suspension should also be upgraded.
GM doesn’t know what an independent suspension is?
The Volt goes for $33,000 and $40,000 as well. It’d be a real competitor if it had a real suspension that could compete with a BMW 3 series.

And why isn’t that the goal?

Lets be honest, they all, including vaporware Tesla products, are more or less city cars. Yes, you can do occasional road trip if you don’t mind to spend too much time charging, and pretend that Tesla is conquering the world. Happy pretending.

I don’t mean that it is something wrong with city cars, many people don’t need anything more than city driving and occasional road trip once a year. But it is not what most of the gas cars on the road can do now and what people expect from them. So it would be uphill battle to replace them with battery only cars exclusively.

People don’t pretend in their Teslas, they drive them everywhere and some do conquer the world, quite literally while the rest of the major automakers are scratching their balls, if they have any.

I got my tesla in may sence then I have drove to Tennessee 2 Florida 1 wissconsin 1 I live in Ohio I have 4 sons and 1 wife lol and this is my fav traveling car I have ever had

Lol. That’s a stupid use of a car if there was one. Have you considered flying? Or trains?

I always smile when I see these claims about how great the SC network is. The people I know who have a Tesla won’t drive it to Palm Springs or LAX much less Nebraska. In my own experience the SC network wouldn’t work — at all in any way and in any form — for the last three domestic trips I’ve taken (Mammoth, Big Sur, Portal). Not that the CCS chargers would work. But a zero isn’t any better than any other zero.

On the other hand, if history is any indication, the big difference between the Model 3 and the Bolt EV is the Bolt EV will be more reliable than average and the Model 3 will be far worse than average. Plus one will be a sedan with less cargo space.

Really not a claim these trips happen would love to send u prof it’s not hard to go on trips at all drive 3 hours eat drive 3 hours eat drive 3 hours eat and we are there lol doesn’t have to 3 hours

Funny he would say that. I just hosted a friend who took a Model S road trip from Palm Springs to Mammoth lakes and to South Lake Tahoe…

I’m sure you are aware that the supercharger network is an ongoing project, and that Tesla is rapidly expanding it.

It’s as ludicrous to compare the Bolt EV to the Model 3 now as it was to compare the Volt to the LEAF back in 2011. The reason so many did was that both had larger battery packs and electric motors. People insist today in comparing Bolt EV to M3 because both are electric with similar range. One is a Honda Fit-sized subcompact mini ute and the other a compact/midsize sedan that has a midsized interior volume due to the packaging allowed by moving the cowl forward. Add a frunk and 5 second and under 0-60 times, then add a known and accepted luxury brand vs. a mainstrem middle-class brand ( Chevrolet ), and there are two completely different target audiences for each product. Nobody should knock the Bolt EV for being rather pedestrian to look at and targeted towards the Lyft and Uber segment. Neither should anyone knock the M3 for reliability when nobody has ever tested nor owned one. I may remind you Don, that the reliability nag you seem to have a hard time getting off of was early run Model S and Xs. Consumer Reports failed to acknowledge how buyers of Model S treat their cars.… Read more »

Good job! As a Model S owner I could not be happier a year later. Unless I have to sell the Model S to feed my family I would never get another ICE car for the remainder of my life. Tesla is in the stratosphere while the rest are throwing half-baked implementations that the huddled masses have become so accustomed to, the dealer magic and NADA’s BS.

I am with u I have a tesla and a leaf my son is 14 he’s first car will be a leaf and I will replace that with another tesla

Just be happy he isn’t still on about the “laptop batteries” in the Model S.

VDIV, very Nicely said & well Put!

Chevy and BMW are not in the same markets. TM3 and BMW3 are.

GM has excellent suspensions such as ATS-V.

The Cadillac ELR has a much more pricey suspension, both front and rear, than the Chevrolet Volt, yet it handles much better even though not being fully independent.

It apparently was deemed not necessary.

Also, there have been no reports on the GM cars of wheels falling off, so this part of the car was adequately designed, at a minimum on the GEN 1 products, since I don’t believe anyone has ever died in a moving collision to date.

He’s not exaggerating, He forgot mention Most of them are “Hard” to look at too ..Everyone Slams Tesla & this guy can’t speak ONE truth ? He has not said anything terrible , these are Facts! Tesla has the right idea , the rest are only building EV’s For carbon credits ,,Hence the reason GM will “not install chargers”, Instead they give their executives Sinfully huge bonuses.,With all the profits GM has been making, GM could install 1million chargers overnight instead of wasting free $$$ money handouts on their executive staff.., if they were truly serious about EV’s..they would put profits back in the company Like Elon Musk is doing to grow The EV segment!

Why would GM spend money on public charger infrastructure just few years after government bailed them out from overspending? Are they building gas stations or roads too?

US government recently announced some $4.5 billion in loan guaranties for charging infrastructure. German government also announced plans to invest billions in charging infrastructure. Japan already had infrastructure years ago because it was not so stupid to start some charging standard wars. Tesla proprietary charging network book value is just some 0.18 billion but it delayed appearance of open public charging network for years as no government is happy to spend money who knows on what, when car makers are engaged in proprietary obstruction against open standards, and infrastructure money may be wasted for wrong solution.

At GM it’s every man for himself , They have no interest in the long term future.If I can’t charge up my car “I WILL NOT BUY ONE” forget home charging , I want independence to go were I please .Btw.. WHY DON’T YOU BUILD THE ROADS SMART ASS!

You way to achieve independence is to build your own proprietary road, separate for each car brand, proprietary gas station, proprietary electric lines and so on. Then you will be happy to live as “independent” corporate slave and say thanks to your corporate leader that he allows to drive you at all.

Speak for yourself Lame Brain.

Reactionary personal insults and name-calling are not the hallmarks of productive communication. It is predictable behavior in children however.

What should be on the spec list:
-Room for 4 adults, head room and leg room in the back.
-At least 30 miles of range, so that you get a real 20 in winter.
-Automatic Cruise Control.
-Automatic Collision Prevention.
-A real suspension.

Only BMW, and Tesla qualify right now.
( And I like the Volt a lot, but the rear section. Why can’t they build a WAGON version, just for the Damned Headroom. ( and 3 inches more knee room )).

Oh, and some acceleration would be nice.

Oh, and all this should come for free for course! OK, at least for price of Fiat 500 as electric cars are much simpler!

THe upcoming (later this year) BOLT was initially classed as a ‘mid-sized wagon’.

I remember so many people criticizing GM for not coming out with a lower cost CUV electrified product. The BOLT seems their reasonable answer, whether you care for its Korean – Design – Studio looks or not. Apparently the initial design was Australian, but a decision was made to go with the Korean look. It does bear more of a resemblance to the Volt than the initial design, and while many will label it UGLY, some potential buyers here have said the ‘look’ appeals to them, and the huge practicality of it, and large interior space should make it a big winner.

I hate to admit it, but he’s right for most parts. EV in general are built as boring slow poke Prius substitute, and people don’t get excited about Prius. There are exceptions like i3, Rav4EV (or is that considered Tesla), and SparkEV that also consider performance. Fortunately, Bolt will be “decent” and Volt is much quicker than before, and other carmakers seem to be coming around.

Well, at least I hope they come around. Making boring cars for being “green” is going to taint EV from what they can be: truly great cars.

Well, you seem highly impressed with your SparkEV, so don’t start deprecating it now. I’m harder on my ELR – I like my 2011 volt’s controls much better tha n the ELR’s (to my mind) silly gesture controls – but I tolerate them since the basic car is so nice. And I don’t mean to imply that, while defending GM’s actions to a small extent, I’m more displeased with GM management than Tesla’s. TO my mind, it great that DeNyschen, head of Cadillac now, was hired AFTER the ELR went on sale, so that they had to sell a few before this clown arbitrarily canned it prematurely before releasing a replacement, presumeably the CT6 PHEV from China. Its not only my wish that this guy would retire or work for someone else. 7 state dealership groups have issued sharply worded letters criticizing DeNyschen’s ‘Pinnacle’ program that will in effect price smaller dealerships out of business. This guy said years ago that he thinks EV’s are dumb, and I’ll take him at his word – he’s a dumb choice for Cadillac, (and for EV’s from them) and hopefully many more people will come to the same conclusion – in this case… Read more »

I don’t get it.
The way I see it, the _stated_ _goal_ of Tesla is to push the world to the point where EVs can be useful appliances — the vast majority of ICE cars globally are exactly that, not sports cars or any other type or enthusiast car (the US is a non-typical market in many ways, including taking more than one car per ghousehold for granted).

I wish most carmakers would launch appliance-like EVs that can serve as a household’s primary car. That means (1) Real range for long-distance trips (2) Quick-charging networks for the same .

Teslas are aspirational products. Nissan LEAFs and Focus EVs are appliances. 0-60mph in nine or ten seconds doesn’t get chatter on YouTube and social media.

ELR for Cadillac was a real let down. So exciting to see Bob Lutz’s toy (ELR) make it to market as an $80,000 Volt = NOT! For ELR to really have become an electric halo – it really needed to be a Tesla fighter that could carve corners and snap your neck back when the go pedal was punched.

Passion sells a brand, an idea and a product. While a core sector of EV fans exists – who passionately want long-distance EVs for commuting and getting grocieries – that small following of early adopters isn’t enough to propel EVs into the mainstream. Tesla got the formula right: Make a car people lust after for it’s attributes beyond reduction of greenhouse gasses.

O’Connell doesn’t have to apologize for speaking the truth. Tesla is literally pulling the entire auto industry slowly into the realization that it must change.

A 10 000$ dollars Wolf/Subzero appliance is aspirational for some as well. But they are appliances at the end. But general adoption come from the likes of KitchenAid,

As for those using the SC network as a selling point, well, Tesla had no other choices. The general population would have went in shock if they heard numbers like 72hrs for a recharge of that big fat heavy battery, so SC network is more a marketing expense then a feature when 99% of the time, Tesla owner don’t need it. And Tesla went rogue by using their own proprietary approach.

People who bitch about public charging forget they are used by all compatible cars (including Tesla with their monster adapter). To ask each OEM to build their own charging network doesn’t make sense. With the arrival of the Bolt, GM will do like BMW and Nissan and sponsor or invest in Charging Networks (BMW invested in ChargePoint). But they do it in a way where everyone benefit from it. I prefer a Charging Network planned they way it is in Quebec, where coverage is the priority and usage an availability for all is a key value.

He said this for the sake of competition. But ignore it.

Every EV does its role in reducing the pollution and keeping oil prices at bay.

If a family has 2 cars and one of the drivers have 60 – 80 mile commute, then that person can drive EV and use the 2nd car for long distance drives.

From the article:

“O’Connell has made similar snide comments in the past and they weren’t received well, so you’d think he would’ve learned to ‘take the high road’ by now, but apparently not.”

Seems to me that his comments are entirely in line with Tesla’s goals and its mission statement. Tesla isn’t a staid, old, established gasmobile maker. Tesla is the brash young company making and promoting a disruptive technology; the “Young Turk” in the auto market.

It’s not Tesla’s goal to be polite to established gasmobile makers. It’s Tesla’s goal to force them to start making PEVs instead of gasmobiles, or failing that, to put them out of business.

“The full Tesla Motors mission statement follows: Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” — Nov 28, 2014

Go Tesla!

Based on the frustration of Tesla waiting a decade for the rest of the Automotive world to catch up, I suspect Model 3 and “The Machine That Makes The Machine”, are really all about saying, “FU. We waited long enough for you to follow us making compelling long range BEVs. Now, we’re going to do it ourselves, and crush anyone who does not keep up.”

This would also explain the Semi, Mini-Bus and Pickup; to exert additional pressure into those markets and manufacturers.

Yup. Exactly!

Don’t forget if the Leaf has an MSRP 35.000 $ you go to a good dealer and get it for 26.000 $, a Model 3 you get perhaps 1000 $ off with the referal programm. You cannot compare the MSRP.

I noticed now Nissan has some $6000 off incentive for Leafs. You may be able to get it for $18k. Although I didn’t tried it in practice, who knows what these autodealers will add later in process.

NAILED IT…I just saw my first model x in the wild and it was a beautiful machine, I drive a 2016 Leaf and it’s an appliance.

What O’Connell is saying, is true. Do you think I would put down $1,000 on one of these non-Tesla electric vehicles and let one of these companies hold it for 2 years while I wait for one of their cars? Let’s say Tesla was to come out with an electric vehicle having an all-electric range of 81 miles. Would you call it the future of sustainable Mobility?

It’s a car, not a toaster! The white Kia Soul EV comes close to looking like a GE microwave! The Leaf is beyond appliance comparison.

I dunno about you guys but the appliances in my house are all more than 10 years old and still going strong. I will take an appliance over something that has QC issues any day.

Then again I don’t think a car is amazing simply because it can go fast in a straight line before having to put ice on the batteries…

Another Euro point of view

…ouch that hurts

Not when it’s just Troll FUD.

Things have not changed much:

thx for the lolz

Well it’s official, Tesla elitism starts right at the top. It’s no wonder Teslas arrogance causes so much conflict. It’s too bad, Tesla makes an interesting products but I’ll never get one unless Tesla learns to work with people instead stepping on everyone’s faces.

Why is your face easy to step on?

Hey Anon, was it you driving this Tesla:

Not that one, sorry. 🙂

Er,any car is an appliance. You can express yourself in your presentation of said appliance. I like nice appliances, but I wouldn’t take a Tesla to half the mad places I take a Leaf. The Tesla is every bit as practical as the Leaf, but financially is currently aspirational for most. I’ll wait for Model 3 hoping that it is truly a game changer. Until then this is simply rhetoric.

The Nissan Leaf is selling quite well in other countries. Personally, I see the charging network infrastructure and a change in the US embrace to transportation as key current needs. If we think we are going to be suburban residences driving to our needs in 100 years, I think we are sorrily mistaken. 200 miles in range is nice, but not necessary in a new and very necessary paradigm.

It all seems pretty straight forward and honest. Electric cars are better the ones the old line car companies are making are not very good. A company cannot serve two masters. If someone wants to speak truth to power, and they say it bit of a mean way, so what.

I find it a bit hypocritical of posters who are up in arms over this rather mild and completely correct comment, while they themselves continuously cross the line of propriety and consideration of opposing points of view, though they be logical and well considered opinions.

Those hypocritical contrarians are likely Trump Voters, too. 😉

Seems to me that if you’re a Nissan/GM/BMW fan, you’d be happy about O’Connell telling it like it is. Tweaking their noses might result in a reality check. Anyhow l expect more exciting products from these guys are in the pipeline. Nissan in particular.

Good points ffbj!

I’m pretty sure that at least some of the Tesla-haters that post here are a very small group of professional stock manipulators who post under multiple user names as seen how in many of the threads about Tesla these highly negative posts from new usernames keep popping up.

I think that others are connected to the laggard ICE OEMs or dealerships and probably a few to the petroleum or perhaps the nascent hydrogen lobby.

I think there are others like Don C who just don’t like Elon Musk because of the way he drives his workers to overachieve and of course Bill has let his early adopter experience with his former Tesla Roadster color all his subsequent feelings regarding Tesla.

Personally I couldn’t care less as Tesla is on the verge of a Tsunami effect with the Model 3.

This because when Tesla is selling hundreds of thousands of cars that are much better then anything else in their price range at the expense of the laggard OEMs you sill see rapid investments into competing and the see change will really begin.

Bill is waiting to see a legitimate quality improvement at Tesla. I’ve wired my garage to charge 2 modern Teslas simultaneous, but they are currently, and probably in the future will be used for something else. Now what is interesting is there are a few commenters here saying they have had no real trouble with their Teslas. I’d like to see some place where this is demonstrably proven. The fact there is even one Tesla made that has had no problems in itself is newsworthy. Although, and I’m guilty of this myself, I cut Tesla more slack than a true dollars and cents person would. My car easily qualified to be covered under NY State’s Lemon Law, but I was so enthralled with the concept of an electric convertible that I hoped against hope that problems would eventually get fixed. The car, out of warranty, was too expensive to keep fixing so I cut my losses. This was replaced by a Very Reliable ELR – perfect in comparison. The car just works, and is sportier than its performance numbers objectively indicate – see the Car and Driver review of the 2014 ELR. After all, most mature people, other than spoiled… Read more »

We love our two appliances. We charge them… drive them… they do the job nicely. Teslas are nicer than our 2 Leafs but if we got a tesla we’d only have one car. Instead we have 2 for less than half the price.

Volt is an amphibian.
Spark is an appliance.
Both are more reliable than any Tesla. At less than half the price.


Volt is not a BEV
Spark is not available but in a handful of States.

No, neither my old VOlt nor my newer ELR, although both ‘old-fashioned’ GEN 1 products are BEV’s, as I’ve explained my ELR is by far the most ELECTRIC car I’ve ever owned. I can travel so far with the car in the course of a year and use a higher percentage of electricity than anything else I’ve done to date.

And other people could too if they only had a chance to buy one. The existing 110 volt recepticles people have near their driveways could have many people enjoying almost totally electrified driving, that is if Cadillac (DeNyschen – who has stated in the past he thinks EV’s are dumb) didn’t arbitrarily discontinue the ELR prematurely.

SparkEV has 50 states worth of enthusiasm toward his car. The BOLT should eliminate the availability problem – as the cars, while not that similar, at least Rhyme stylistically.