Tesla Imitators Now Include Lincoln & Toyota Too


Toyota Prius Prime's 11.6" HD Multimedia Unit

Toyota Prius Prime’s 11.6″ HD Multimedia Unit

First, Tesla was a joke. Then it intrigued some influential auto execs with its battery tech — even landed a couple of supply contracts and investments from Toyota and Daimler. Then it prodded everyone to re-assess their their half-assed EV programs and make them at least three-quarter assed.

Now comes the really humbling stage, which is “me too.” Imitating Tesla may be embarrassing and risky to your brand, but ignoring Tesla carries even more risk. You want to be the next Oldsmobile? No. And so:

  • The upcoming Prius Prime, formerly known as the Plug-In, will have a Teslariffic user interface.
  • Lincoln is showing a gull-winged Navigator concept, as proof that it’s still “in the game” or something. No dual hinges. No sonar that sees through metal. Just old-school, impractical gull wings.

Both are Monkees to Tesla’s Beatles. We should expect such from bumbling Detroit. But Toyota is another thing. The Prius name means “to go before,” yet it’s clearly “chasing after.” That’s a real surprise. Another surprise: While rolling out a new batch of EVs, Audi congratulated Tesla for its preemptive move into a market nobody thought existed. That’s quite a turnaround in attitude from just a couple years ago, when Audi joined the Tesla scoff-athon along with everyone else.

Now that Tesla has built serious brand equity, has earned respect and even imitation from larger peers, and has cornered a big chunk of automotive mind share, not to mention actual market share, it’s time to capitalize. Store employees say Tesla will shift Model S features/pricing upon the Model III debut, treating both cars as one big sedan spectrum. If this works anything like a supermarket, a change in packaging means a price increase somewhere. So let it be done. Tesla has earned the right to ask for more money. And cash is king for 2016, remember? So fork it over. Don’t you want to be regal?

*Editor’s Note: This and countless other Tesla-related posts appear on TeslaMondo. Check it out here.

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59 Comments on "Tesla Imitators Now Include Lincoln & Toyota Too"

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Falcon doors will not make bad car better 🙂

Those are Gullwing door & Yes! I agree it will Not makes those vehicles any better…BTW..everyone thought it was a Bad Idea…, Now the competition is “trying” to imitate them… L 0 L………….

I still beleive it’s a bad idea. It’s an ego trip. The fact someone copies it doesn’t make it better.

Yes, it’s a “look at me” 0ption ….There are many things we don’t really need….

Concur that the Falcon doors are ‘cool’ but dumb. I live in coastal BC (just NW of Seattle if you are unfamiliar) and we get 6 months of rain. 6 months where it would be inconvenient, OK, bloody wet to the seats and people to use those Falcon doors.

Love the rest of the product, but I’ve got to call those doors an unnecessary, complicated, and poorly thought out gimick.

Go Tesla!

“You want to be the next Oldsmobile?”
The loss of Oldsmobile had nothing to do with technology, but with the collapse of the world economy.

The age of its buyer and age of its line up is what killed Oldsmobile
(See any car with Cutlass in the name)

Minor in my opinion to when Wall Street broke the world. If that hadn’t happened I think we still would have Pontiac & Oldsmobile today.

I think the real problem was half a dozen different “brands” selling mostly the same re-branded cars.

Huge waste of effort.

Too bad for Pontiac though, I liked those a lot.

Me too. At least Cadillac & Buick have stepped up their designs for a younger audience to cover the loss of Pontiac. Who would have thought we would have something like the current LaCrosse, or a convertible from Buick?

For younger folks? Still pretty much only for grandpas, pimps, drug dealers and rappers. At least that’s the image…

@Peter G.
“The age of its buyer and age of its line up is what killed Oldsmobile”

I think the first couple GTO models were nice. The 67 Pontiac Firebird was nice also. I liked Pontiac better than Buick. Buick was more an old persons car IMO.

You mean 0ldsmobile’s Youngmobile ??? L M A 0 ….The Boat..

extinct is extinct no matter the reason

You need to post the article about Tesla from the 03/29/2016 edition of the Wall Street Journal titled: “Tesla: How Uncle Sam May Cause Sticker Shock: New Model 3 might be a tougher sell as tax benefits for buyers roll off.”

This company still faces strong headwinds. The Model 3, and the production ramp are going to have to be just about perfect.

The real question people should be asking, is how will the Model 3 sell to the average consumer WITHOUT the $7500 federal incentive.

First, Tesla has 100K tax credits remaining. Sunset will take a year.

Second, Model 3 target market is BMW 3 series (low end luxury). As such, I don’t think tax credits will matter as much with those buyers. We’re not talking about $15K SparkEV buyers (maybe some are).

Third, there is no other competing EV with better charger network. If you want better service, small premium (relative to price) is going to be ok.

Your point is well taken, and I plan on placing a Model 3 deposit – but the “sunset” you mention comes with the following:

“But actually receiving the Model 3 at this advantageous price isn’t straightforward. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the credit starts to shrink once a manufacturer sells 200,000 cars. After that, future cars sold are eligible for half the tax credit for two quarters, and 25% for two quarters after that before vanishing altogether.”

Just to touch on this, Tesla is at ~66k used through February 2016 (so some 134k remaining) Not taking anything away from the WSJ, but the phase-out itself takes anywhere from 3 months to 6 months start to sunset (depending on where we are in the quarter), then another 6 months of a “half” $3,750 credit…so one is looking at a year of decent “post 200k sales” I will say, if anyone thinks this is actually going to expire for the one automaker(s) who ends up doing the most for the segment to the benefit of the laggards…they would be mistaken. This program will assuredly be re-visited long before any sunset came into play…but what (if anything) it is replaced with, who can say. Also, it will not be Tesla who trips this event first, but likely GM who currently sits at 97.6k sold (outside shot to Nissan if they surprise us in 2017). The most likely scenario is GM hits 200k in early Q2 2018, with the sunset for them due to start October 1st, 2018. Just for “fun” on Tesla’s credit: Tesla projections for US sales would have them at ~155k heading into 2018 and the start of… Read more »

Question: If Tesla were to “private label” one of their products for an existing manufacturer that has used no credits (Mazda for example), could that manufacturer then have customer access to another 200,000 units at the $7500 incentive level?

No and yes.

You can’t have a rebadge scenario under another OEM…such as a Tesla Model S turning into a Mazda E.

What you could have would be a joint-venture and/or deep supplier relationship with the new partner (with the credits) having the majority stake. To a degree, like what you seen on the Toyota RAV4 EV with Tesla, but on a larger scale of involvement. To be eligible for the credit, the plug-in must qualify as being made/assembled by the applying OEM.

Realistically, it would be a logistical nightmare, and the benefit from such a small run (relatively speaking) wouldn’t justify it.

Any smaller OEM who still had credits (and no skillset/desire to engineer a volume plug-in) that still wanted to get in on the action, would be far better off (and more likely) just selecting a product platform and then giving LG Chem or Magna a call.

This is something I hope happens (as I mentioned to David below).

Just let Tesla supply the drive-train, and the car makers can build the car.

With all the excitement over Model 3, how soon Tesla run out of tax credit will be dependent on how quickly they’ll produce them.

‘what is the result to the overall US EV industry under various “renewal/expiry” scenarios for the credit overall?’

Unless CCS/Chademo has dramatic improvement, Tesla will be the only game in town. Even at same price, there’s no reason to buy non-Tesla and be limited to certain cities.

What I fear is Tesla monopoly and possible abuse, especially if cheap source of electricity is found soon (ie, Fusion). I don’t fear Tesla abuse, but abuse by government to break it up. Way too speculative, I know, but it could be a real possibility in the near future even without fusion, given all the anti EV sentiment in some political circles.

I’m not sure the value you put on public DC is as significant as all that, but fair point. As we are seeing in other countries whose EV adoption/incentives are more accelerated, the “hope” is that in lieu of expensive programs and rebates, a regulatory environment takes the lead in getting more and more plug-ins on the road…or more specifically petrol cars off. Realistically, the $7,500 + state incentives in the US just can’t go on forever, and human nature is for people is to take the easiest path of personal gain set before them (petrol). However, those choices can be significantly influenced before it makes it to the consumer level – to some (small) degree they already are via CARB. Put another way, the Netherlands parliament just put in place action that would ban the sale of all new diesel or petrol cars from 2025 – obviously this is a bit extreme for Americans to get their head around (and any drastic loss of rights, rightly or wrongly, is met with massive resistance), but this involves no elaborate schemes and is 100% effective. The US ‘could’ do the same thing, the world would not end (although reality/history tells us… Read more »

I want a thoughtful president and Senate to win that will support extending the tax-credit in some fashion. The current design is bad . . . it punishes all the early movers into EVs. Those early movers will run out of credit and then have to compete against the late-movers with a much higher price.

So perhaps the old system should be scrapped and create a shared pool of 2 million vehicles that will get future tax-credits. And they will be handed out on a first-come first-serve basis.

Yes, the “new” system is a hastily updated/expanded version of the original “250k sold and then phase out”, without a lot of foresight built-in…or at least a thought as to re-configuring the program before it began to terminate for any one OEM.

In all likelihood what we will see will be the focus taken off both the set number and the OEM, and moving in step with the rest of the world, to a timeline based program.

Hard benchmarks are fair to everyone building cars, motives/rewards faster movement (over having an allocation specific to the OEM), and also gives OEMs a solid window into the future operating environment.

Just a random example of what converting the existing $7,500/200,000 sold per OEM to the overall market on a timeline could look like:

$7,500 federal credit through 2019
$3,750 (50%) credit in 2020/2021
$1,875 (25%) credit in 2022/2023

I think the US (and Canada) should just adopt the CARB ZEV mandates. Relatively simple and it doesn’t require government spending/revenue loss like credits do. There would be a lot more pressure on OEMs to reduce costs too.

“I want a thoughtful president and Senate”

Stop. You are killing me. LMAO. Yeh me too.

I don’t think I want to know Trumps position on the tax credit. 🙂

I doubt Trump knows the tax-credit exists. However, he would probably act like he knows it exists and give some strange position on it. And then he’d change his position with a week.

He would have the most fabulous and best solution to the tax incentive program. It would be very high quality.

That is why Musk is quoting prices BEFORE tax credits.

Yes of course, but the fact that $7500 is 22% of the rumored base price can not be ignored.

Average price of a purchased new car in the US is a little over $31k (that’s a 2015 number). So by the time Tesla starts delivering the Model 3, the average new car price will be a bit higher and make the Model 3 extremely competitive based on its quality against other cars in its price range. The tax credit is nice, but it’s definitely not the defining feature of the Model 3.

perian asked:

“…how will the Model 3 sell to the average consumer WITHOUT the $7500 federal incentive.”

Answer: Brilliantly! 🙂

Imitation is sincerest form of flattery.

The black Ford/Lincoln logos above the front wheels reminds me a lot of the Chevrolet Volt logo in that same spot.

Imitators, Not 0riginators ..If you can’t beat them, Join them !

I was just thinking this morning that tomorrow will be the most important day in EV history. or at least the second most. After all, the threat of model-III is what has caused most of the car makers to get off their butts. But it has also caused battery suppliers to make huge investments. The EV movement has started and there is no stopping it.

But, the question is now… will Model III live up to the hype? If it does, then every manufacturer is going to have to compete with it. Tesla cannot be ignored any longer. General Motors has already stepped up to the plate. It remains to be seen if the Bolt EV and Volt will be competitive. I’m not sure anyone else in the industry is ready.

I kinda wish Tesla would outsource the build of their cars to other OEMs. Sort of like what they did with the Rav4 & Mercedes. Let Tesla supply the guts, but let the car guys take care of making the car. This would allow a lot players who are far behind to catch up.

I agree.

Just surprised at your comment on a previous post not risking the $1k to “be part of history”.

Tesla is a very small company, trying to accomplish big things. Imitation is flattery, but true innovation is respected and admired for the ages.

Happy Model III Day, to everyone at Tesla Motors. 🙂

It is Model 3 day eve.

oh, I thought it was white boy day? dammit.

The Author of this column must be young. It completely ignores the multitude of prior concept cars with gull wings and production cars with touch screens. Is Tesla a copycat? By his measurement, it is.

What about Telsa’s touchscreen? Well Buick put the first touchscreen in a production car, 30 years ago.

You are correct. But I’ve never seen gull-wing doors on an SUV before. And as for the touch screen. Sure, it is nothing new. I had a touch screen on my 2001 Toyota Prius 15 years ago. But Tesla was the first to make it so large and functional. Sort of like there were other tablet computers before the iPad. But who made it mainstream?

I talked to the spoke person at the NY Auto Show on the Lincoln Navigator Concept with gull-wing doors. It will have regular doors when it hits production. The gull-wing doors were to show the inside and for show.

most automakers have a long ,long way to go to get close to Tesla. BMW actually seems to be trying and making progress. A Nationwide charging network is the key and only Tesla has that.

The doors on that Lincoln are TERRIBLE.
1) The lack of a B pillar will really reduce the structural integrity of the vehicle.
2) Since the driver and the passenger must use those doors, they have to be used all the time. That additional usage will cause them to fail earlier.

That Lincoln will never be built.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of the Model X Falcon doors but after seeing the Model X in person, I can see the utility. The Model X is a very aerodynamic crossover . . . it has less drag than the original tiny Tesla Roadster! And those aerodynamics make the 7 person seating a bit of a tight fit. So to get people into those 3rd row of seats, the Falcon doors are almost necessary. Plus they do make putting a kid into a childseat easier.

And a nice thing about the Tesla Falcon wing doors is that since they are only needed when you have 3 or more people in the vehicle, they won’t get used as often and that will reduce the chance of problems with them.


“Tesla projections for US sales would have them at ~155k heading into 2018 and the start of Model 3 production, ”

The easy way for me to remember this then is that only the 45K model 3’s would get the credit. Actually less since some Model S and Model X cars would be mixed in. So let’s say then as a rough number only 35,000 Model 3’s will get the full credit.

Assuming the program stays “as is“, and IF Tesla is as at ~155k at start of 2018, and IF Model 3 production launches on time, you are still looking at ~5-6k of Model S/X per month while a handful of 3s dribble out (thinking of other new vehicle launches).

I’d say you are being very optimistic, at 35k…I’d be inclined to put Model 3 sales at ~5k of the first 200,000 total.

That being said it is the 3-6 month grace window when Tesla still receives the $7,500 credit that is important. (One assumes Tesla would manage this production number so that Tesla #200,001 is built the very first day of a new quarter and thus they receive the full 182 days of selling grace).

If Tesla is in full ramp at this point, then the number is limited only to capacity/demand over this period. If Tesla has the ability to build 120k/year (10k cars a month), then some ~60k more Model 3s could be sold with the full credit, if capacity is 240k (20k cars a month), then some ~120k cars could be sold.

Nailed it. I expect Tesla to be very clever on the production timing/ ramp.

If I were ever to buy a Prius Prime PHEV, I’d leave out the distracting tv set option.

I’m curious as to how much extra they charge for it, – I have neither smart phone nor tablet, so I won’t miss the distracting interface.

I do like netbook computers – and at under half the price of tablets they are the same size with greater functionality.

Since Tesla has used FORD Motor CO. hardware in the past, I wonder if they forget their ‘falcon doors’ and go with a perfected ‘gull wing’ lincoln navigator design.

AS far as drive trains go, both the Mercedes and the Rav4ev have had ‘tesla problems’. They’d be better off contracting with LG.


Lincoln, It’s not a bus. If you have to build stairs into the vehicle, it’s too damn big.

How is Ford “imitating” Tesla? Didn’t Ford use gull-wings doors on the Evos Concept back in 2011? And the designer said it was for “show biz” reasons so people could see the interior.

“Both are Monkees to Tesla’s Beatles.”

Haha… yes! (Kids today won’t get it tho.)

TeslaMundo said:

“First, Tesla was a joke.”

Hmmm… revisionist history?

I have no doubt that people made jokes about Tesla in the early days… and some serial bashers still do. But I’ve followed the “story” of Tesla since before they started selling the Roadster, and there was never a consensus that the company was a joke. A risky venture, yes. Likely to fail in the company’s early years, yes.

But a joke? No.

I wonder what Lincoln and Toyota will say when the first year production of the Model 3 is sold out in less than 48 hours.

“their half-assed EV programs”…couldn’t say it better myself!