Tesla Has Been Nearly Single-Handed In Bringing EVs To Mainstream

AUG 2 2018 BY EVANNEX 54


Like many others, Dan Sperling has been impressed by Tesla’s rapid rise. In a recent article published in Forbes, he describes his 2008 visit to Tesla’s tiny factory in Silicon Valley, where he was “floored by their ambition and skeptical they could survive, much less thrive. Tesla’s journey from upstart visionary to household name has been a wild ride, filled with remarkable highs and lows.” In the course of that journey, Tesla launched the first auto-industry IPO in over 60 years and built a market cap similar to those of Ford and GM.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: A look at the Tesla line-up (Source: Tesla)

More importantly, Tesla has almost single-handedly brought electric vehicles into the mainstream, a deed of great service to the United States and the world. “We need a strong private-sector leader like Tesla pulling EV technologies and markets forward in the United States,” writes Sperling. “Such leadership has profound implications for climate change, pollution, and US competitiveness in the global economy.”

However, Tesla’s position is not exactly secure, and its financial weakness threatens to derail the much-needed transition to EVs. “Tesla has struggled to maintain adequate cash flow, meet targets, and overcome manufacturing issues,” says Sperling. “Recent challenges meeting expectations and demand for the Model 3 mass-market sedan – challenges compounded by Elon Musk’s erratic and distracted behavior – are fueling predictions that the company is on the verge of collapse.”

Above: Tesla produced three times as many Model 3s in Q2 as it did in Q1 (Chart: Business Insider via Statista)

Of course, your correspondent and others have argued that those predictions of doom are greatly overstated, but they can’t be dismissed entirely, and if Tesla disappears, the global transition to EVs could be set back decades. “The status of EVs is fragile, especially in the United States,” Sperling writes. “The Trump administration is threatening to freeze national fuel-efficiency and CO2 standards, which would undermine automaker investments in EVs. It is also threatening to block the zero-emission vehicle mandates in place in California and nine other states, further undermining investments.”

“While domestic progress on EVs stalls, other countries are pulling away. China sold almost half a million EVs the first half of 2018 [and] now accounts for half of all EVs sold worldwide. China is also leading on electrifying larger vehicles. The Chinese city of Shenzhen has converted every one of its 16,000 buses to electricity.”

Above: Projections have China leading the worldwide push toward EVs (Source: Bloomberg)

“If not for Tesla, the gap between the United States and other global powers would be even wider,” Sperling continues. “Tesla is the only company [in the US market] other than the Chinese company BYD making a massive and unequivocal commitment to EVs. Tesla also plays an essential role as a visionary. Tesla consistently pushes the envelope on EV technology, forcing a rethinking of what EVs are and can be.”

“If Tesla falls, who can we count on to carry the torch on EVs?” Tesla skeptics make much of the legacy automakers’ potential to use their market power and economies of scale to bury the California upstart. However, it isn’t a question of capability, but of will. GM’s Chevy Bolt is competitive with Tesla when it comes to range, but GM’s resolve is suspect, writes Sperling with understatement, noting that EVs account for just 0.5% of GM’s total US car sales. Nissan and BMW sell more EVs as a percentage of their total US sales (1% and 8% respectively), but the total numbers are still small. A glance at the monthly EV sales figures shows how far behind Tesla the legacy carmakers are, and despite highly-publicized announcements of new EVs in the pipeline (most of them years away, and most of them for China), there’s no indication that any of the majors really covet a major share of the EV market. The prevailing wait-and-see attitude is a sound business decision, at least in the short term – for the majors, EVs remain a money-losing proposition (not for Tesla).

Above: To take advantage of the massive market opportunity in China, Tesla has plans to open a factory in Shanghai (Youtube: South China Morning Post)

As Sperling notes, the fact that all major automakers are producing EVs represents major progress. However, “active innovation and sustained commitment is needed for progress to continue to the point where EV manufacturing becomes profitable and hence self-sustaining.”

The eventual transition to EVs is no longer in question – what’s at risk is US and European competitiveness in the growing market. “So far, Tesla is the only company leading the charge,” Sperling writes. If Elon Musk and his band of brothers were to fail in their quest, the future of the US auto industry, and of the global climate, would be bleak.


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Forbes

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

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54 Comments on "Tesla Has Been Nearly Single-Handed In Bringing EVs To Mainstream"

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Clearly Nissan sells a much more mainstream EV.

I would phrase that as “Clearly Nissan has a much more mainstream EV.” They don’t really sell that many of them.

Their sales passed the 300,000 mark in January 2018, allowing the Nissan Leaf to rank as the world’s best-selling highway-capable electric car in history.

The LEAF also shipped before the Model S.

Overall I’d credit government initiatives for creating the EV market, not Tesla. Tesla wouldn’t be in business at all without them.

I drive a Leaf, and I see this argument a lot, about “total sales” since its release… The Model 3 has more reservations than the Nissan Leaf has total global sales over a 7.5 year period. The Model 3 was #20 for sales in the month of July in the US, and it sold more copies in July than the Leaf does in an ENTIRE year. I applaud Nissan for taking a leaf of faith and bringing a “highway-capable EV” to market nearly 8 years ago, but it is not a mainstream vehicle. It’s a quirky car option for frugal car buyers who can greatly benefit from a major tax incentive, or a screaming deal on a used vehicle that’s insanely cheap to drive. The Model 3 is not that… it will continue to sell tremendously well as the tax incentives fade away. In a few years, as the market is flooded with used Model 3s, the Chevy Bolt and the Nissan Leaf will have an incredibly hard time selling new models when used Model 3s are readily available.

This! Not taking anything away from Carlos Ghosn and Nissan as Zachary states, but throwing out 300,000 that took 7.5 years to achieve “knowing” that Model 3 eclipses it in 2 years and produces it annually thereafter. Hopefully, the legacy car manufacturers see this as the wakeup call they can no longer ignore. If not, Tesla, BYD, and new players will replace them.

#20 all segments
#7 sedan
#1 premium car

They have to address the battery management system especially cooling, current range loss is tragic. Fortunately, 2019 model has active cooling. Let’s see if it too limits quick charging.

There is clearly nothing wrong with Nissan’s Leaf sales. They did a great job. It is simply that they need to move forwards with more offerings. Tesla now has 3 different EV’s for sale, Nissan still just has the Leaf on the scoreboard.

The conundrum is that even with their big historical sales numbers, they still need more sales to justify another model of EV. And they can’t get more sales on the scoreboard without another model of EV.

Nissan sells a transporter and a sedan as well. Just not in the US market.

That is your not so humble opinion.
For the leaf, the gov subsidies probably did help a lot. After all, 35K coming down to 27K or even below 25K is a BIG cut.
OTOH, those that buy 95K cars, really do not worry about 7500 tax break.

Sounds like “Seven Electrics” likes free pollution, and paying the man. If somebody’s boot is going to be on my neck, I’d rather it when government does the right thing, than when some collusive industry goes rogue on everyone else.

Make no mistake. Rolling back CAFE will cost you. Batteries have gotten too cheap for the other argument, and their tax-preference is going away. …and they are heavier, and safer.

7 pretend electrics is a sniveling troll for the Oil and LICE industries.

“The LEAF also shipped before the Model S.

“Overall I’d credit government initiatives for creating the EV market, not Tesla.”

Good grief, what revisionist history from one of our Usual Suspects, Eleventy Pretend Electrics!

It was news of Tesla putting its first car, the Roadster, in to production, which inspired both Nissan to produce the Leaf and GM to produce the Volt. How Tesla detractors would like everyone to forget that!

The headline “Tesla Has Been Nearly Single-Handed In Bringing EVs To Mainstream”

No, the word “Nearly” shouldn’t be there.

To paraphrase a comment from abc123: Tesla is creating market demand whereas GM is merely responding to market demand. Therefore, GM will always be behind the curve when it comes to producing and marketing plug-in EVs.

That goes for Nissan, too.

Economics differ for EV’s. Hard to remember that. Gas savings on my Volt pays for a third of its monthly payment. I still buy gas now and again, but like every 6 weeks. So much better then 1 1/2 times a week on a bigger tank. 8 vs. 14-ish.

I would correct that by saying that until now, Nissan clearly sells a much more inferior (lack of active TMS to protect the single most expensive part of the car) mainstream EV.
Hopefully that changes with the 2019 Leaf.

2019 adds active cooling. Enough? who knows.

Only for the upper end version.

In what way? They have more plants and dealer and yet, wherever Tesla sells, it outsells Leaf.
In fact, the Model 3 looks like it will crush Leaf before end of year.

Yeah sure. In 50 years when people look back at what will be history I’m sure they will say “remember when Nissan started the EV revolution?”

I think they are being too laser focused on just pure EV’s, and are ignoring the roll of PHEV’s in mainstream sales.

I realize there are folks who don’t think PHEV’s are any different than hybrids, that they aren’t real EV’s, etc. But hybrids and phev’s are gateway drug plugin’s. For example, the Volt drew in buyers who would have never bought a US brand car ever in their life. Now a lot of those folks buy a pure EV like a Bolt now that they’ve gotten a taste of that sweet, sweet EV habit.

With that said, I’m officially exiting any further PHEV vs. EV purity debates for the rest of this one thread. My only intent was to point out the hole in their analysis, not to instigate a mud slinging session.

If you’ve got an EV, enjoy it, regardless of brand!!

Correlation is NOT Causation.

The Ford Fusion Energi PHEV was certainly the gateway EV for my SO. I’ve wanted, and talked about, Tesla for years, so when she was shopping for a new car in 2013 she bought a PHEV as a way to test the waters. She traded the Fusion in for a Chevy Bolt this year. Ironically, she went full EV before my Model 3 arrived.

Good call nix!

thank you nix, thats what i been saying, i have a volt but all my driving is electric unless imgoing to the city and back

Will, do you plug that POS in during the daytime? If so, then you are making things MUCH WORSE, not better.

Both BEVs and PHEVs are plug-in EVs, and all true EV supporters should welcome both kinds to the marketplace.

Your narrow-minded attitude isn’t just wrong, it’s counter-productive to the EV revolution.

Anytime that we plug in EVs during HIGH ELECTRICAL DEMAND time, is when we are going to force the utilities to increase grid and power plants of all the wrong types.
EVs if done right, will actually lower our electrical costs for all.
BUT, if EVs are done wrong, in particular, as hybrids or short range EVs but still for general purposes (i.e. short range for say mail delivery makes total sense), this will lead to ALL ELECTRICAL COSTS increasing a great deal.

THis is not narrow minded. This is looking ahead, while also having read the studies that have said over and over, to make damn sure that we charge at least 85% of the vehicles during low-demand. Far too many here have NOT read these studies, or at least do not think long term. It is as bad as those that scream about AGW, then wants space-based solar, or utility based solar on good grounds, or argue for shutting down all nuclear, without any real thought of what they are doing.

So install solar panels and a powerwall for your home (or buy into a solar collective) and more than make up for charging during peak daytime demand. Fixed. Done.

You are forgetting that this guy is a nuclear shill. Solar is evil.

The hell are u talking about?

Read my response to Pushmi.

He is talking about 20th century electricity grids.

hybrids are disasters in the making.
It is no different than those idiots that back CHina’s push for coal plants all over the globe, while claiming that China is into AE (ignoring the fact that CHina has a HORRIBLE record in terms of AE per person).
America, in fact, the west, needs to stop ALL subsidies for hybrids and focus solely on real EVs , not that pretend ICE junk.

China is canceling and closing more coal then anyone.

and yet, they continue to add far more plants than what the entire west has, AND they are adding more coal than all of their AE capacity.

I completely agree that PHEVs are very important at this stage of the game. I will not knock any car just because it is a PHEV instead of an EV.

Based off of GM and Nissan dragging their feet with EV production compared to Tesla it still looks like EV’s are a after thought for them.

Such as they seem to take forever to expand the EV’s into existing markets and supply is always very limited.

Tesla meanwhile is going so crazy on EV production that I think Tesla built more EV cars in six weeks then were sold between 1895 and 1940.

gm didnt drag thier feety. the bolt have been out for 2 years

While this is certainly the case for GM, I don’t think it’s fair to say Nissan is dragging their feet on production? Though it’s true they have been dragging their feet on introducing additional models…

I really can’t understand why anyone would accuse Nissan of dragging its feet in producing the Leaf. Nissan went a long way to make sure it satisfied global demand, building new auto assembly plants and battery factories in both Tennessee and the UK.

We can blame Nissan for not updating the Leaf, and for not choosing a better battery chemistry. But accusing them of dragging their feet on production is entirely wrong-headed. The Leaf at one point had global sales of about 100,000 per year. It’s dropped off somewhat since then due to competition from newer BEV models and perhaps because they haven’t updated the Leaf much, but certainly not because of production constraints!

From article: “… If Elon Musk and his band of brothers were to fail in their quest…”

EVANMEX teasing the Jim Chanos ant-Tesla wolfpack with a Tesla doom hypothetical… lol… that’s hardcore pron to those guys.

Jim Chanos is loosing big time on his Tesla short position… blood in the water.

So how is Jim doing on his other big short position….Dunkin Donuts?

“Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) has so far been winning its battle against high-profile short seller Jim Chanos. The shares are fresh off an all-time high of $72.70 and have extended their year-over-year advance to more than 34%. Meanwhile, a number of analysts have been raising their outlooks on DNKN stock…” source:

If every Tesla owner once a week purchased a dozen Dunkin Donuts… project Dunkin Chanos!

Tesla is backing and has invested in an entire solar – electric infrastructure that has in large part allowed their cars to sell better than other EVs. They were way out in front for installing national and continental charging networks, and today they have what is most likely the largest and most consistent high-speed charging network available, and it only works for their cars. That’s a huge inducement to buy a Tesla, and their current sales are a testament to the value of developing that network.

I would split the worldwide kudos between Tesla, Nissan, and Renault. In the US, Tesla gets the most ink, of course.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous


yes they are

GO TESLA GO WIPEOUT THOSE DIRTY… un, oh. forgot myself for a moment there…..

Leave it to the pros….

Nissan has sold 300,000+ EVs in the $35 k range. Add to that the 100,000 Zoes that has been sold by the Alliance, at the same price point.

Tesla has sold 0 cars below $45 k. Tesla is not mainstream.

Ha, ha, what a joke! So Nissan and Renault have sold about 400,000 EV’s between them, at a price point less than $35,000. Meanwhile, Tesla has sold more than 200,000 EV’s at a price point greater than $35,000. It would seem very obvious there are more people willing to shell out the money if the EV is built properly, than there are people willing to buy an EV just because the price is low. For me there is no doubt in my mind if Nissan had active thermal management, and none of this battery degradation issues, they would have built a solid reputation and sold many more copies of the Leaf. If they had bought out the 60kWh battery in 2016 like they seemed to indicate they could do in 2014, that would also have resulted in more reputation and higher sales. Instead they dribbled out the 30kWh and 40kWh batteries without active TMS and reinforced their negative reputation because of continued battery degrading and forced slow charging after the battery temp increased too much. The Leaf is a great car, I love mine, but Nissan had neglected it for too long and I imagine there will be plenty of… Read more »

Teslas cars are too expensive to be mainstream, Nissan and Renault have offerings that anyone can afford.

Top 5 trade-ins begs to differ. Economics of EV are different.

Both Nissan and Alliance have sold <$20K cars for $35K. Those cars have no resale value. And Nissan has managed to turn an inexpensive style of car to own, into costing as much as an ICE does. Why? Because of their batteries.
IOW, they have sold to idiots.

OTOH, Tesla has replaced $25K cars, with a car for 40K, and actually still saved the owners MONEY.

Thank goodness this argument will be dead by next year. Or maybe it already is given the trade-ins of Accords, Civics, Prius’s and LEAF’s for M3’s.

Never written was a more true statement than the title of this article.

Literally everyone except those companies that tried and failed (Aptera;Fisker;Coda;Think;etc) has played some sort of compliance strategy. Tesla Motors is the only company that has weathered the storms and met the challenges and naysayers but survived. There has been but one vision at Tesla, to promote and propagate EVs and renewable energy to replace dirty, expensive and damaging outdated modes of transportation and energy.

I own a Leaf and a Model 3. All I can say was the Leaf was a good EV practice car. Good for around town and a cause for way too often range anxiety.

The Model 3 is in a class of its own — hands down the best vehicle you can buy for $50k today. (I’ll get $7500 back as a bonus!)

Hope to be joining you soon. Have a Leaf now and a Model 3 on order. We have plenty of chargers where I live so range anxiety is not a big deal, but I do have to plan trips of even moderate length to include a charge up. Usually I travel to the destination and charge, then go the the function, so I don’t need to worry about charging on the way home. Also chargers are generally free at 7am.

M3 will be our road trip car, but daily local usage for groceries, etc will still be in the Leaf.