Let’s See What Top Auto Execs Said About Tesla At The LA Auto Show

DEC 5 2018 BY EVANNEX 11


Big Auto’s top executives have a long history of downplaying Tesla. But the tide may be turning. With the impressive success of the Tesla Model 3, top execs are beginning to show the Silicon Valley automaker some long-deserved respect.

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

Above: Checking out the Tesla Model 3 (Image: Charged via Steve Jurvetson)

Cheddar visited the LA Auto Show and spoke with a number of top executives to get their feedback on Tesla. According to Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations, Tesla has inspired his team “to look at ourselves to see if there are unmet needs of customers so that we can innovate our process.”

Stephan Winkelmann, president of Bugatti Automobiles adds, “Tesla was innovative, and they pushed the car industry in one direction.” Anthony Foulk, the senior product manager at Audi of America agrees, “They have definitely pushed the entire auto industry forward.”

Above: Speaking with auto execs at the LA Auto Show, Cheddar’s Hope King and Tamara Warren discuss Tesla’s impact on the industry (Twitter: Hope King)

When considering Tesla, Derrick Hatami, the executive vice president of sales and marketing at Volkswagen of America notes, “It has presented an interesting window into what the possibilities could be for electric vehicles… something to look at and aim for.”

Green Car Reports also sat down with Hatami’s boss, Scott Keogh. VW’s new U.S. CEO recalls being in meetings with executives and dealers who’ve said that “this Tesla thing’s a joke.” Keogh, on the other hand, is not so quick to dismiss the company’s new Model 3. “And then lo and behold, it probably will be—because we’re not far away now—the best-selling car in America,” says Keogh, with no dealer network, no advertising, and none of the tools that the industry is used to.

Above: A look at Tesla’s factory-owned stores often placed in unconventional locations like shopping malls (Source: REP)

Los Angeles Times spoke with Porsche North America chief executive Klaus Zellmer who adds, “If you look at what Tesla has done, if you look at their volume and look at their price level, it’s truly astonishing. If you can do that with one brand and a sales network that is not comprised of dealers and a real sales organization, it’s even more astonishing.”


Source: CheddarHope KingGreen Car ReportsLos Angeles Times

*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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11 Comments on "Let’s See What Top Auto Execs Said About Tesla At The LA Auto Show"

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It highlights the low value of car salesmen operating in a dealership storeroom.
Not saying anything bad about the salespeople, but the position and role they are put into doesn’t make for a good situation.

It is one thing selling a Tesla and another selling an 8 model year old Mitsubishi, so I wouldn’t dismiss salesmen. There are salesmen who are valuable assets to their organization.

But only about 10-25% of the salespeople are any good. The rest are a waste of space and time.

Automaker execs are choosing their words carefully. But they know they are being dragged, kicking and screaming into the electric future much faster than they wanted to do. VW is the only brand that is going all in, but that’s only because they are forced to as a punishment for their crimes.

Disruption and true innovation at its finest of what had become a fairly stagnant industry.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win”

..and then they praise you.

Lets hope we see that happen in tbe auto industry.

Volkswagen could turn the tide.

What concerns me is whether or not the public ill will over Dieselgate will last long enough. GM killed a couple hundred people with It’s ignition scandal and it never caused a blip in their sales. We humans are a forgiving lot. Audi, now part of Volkswagen Group, got bad press for horrible reliability and broken down Audis dotted American roads in the 1980s. The media had a field day at Audi’s expense.. Today, Audi is one of the most admired brands.

With news cycles lasting one week and a general public stricken with A.D.D., the burdens on them present after Dieselgate fade quickly with time, thus it becomes more compliance to government discipline than any other factor. There is always a new generation of car buyers just around the corner who know nor care nothing about past sins to consumers. If it’s bright and shiny, they buy it.

I don’t believe Tesla can go it alone. There need be at least one other company willing to build a couple of EV plants and battery factories to push the market to that fabled tipping point.

Tesla didn’t push the industry at all, you cannot push a rope. They pulled, you push from behind.

In sales, its a sin to criticize your rival. Indeed, you publically address consumer questions about them very concisely, because good press or bad press both takes eyes and ears off of your product and onto theirs. It’s stupid to go to a car show and ask lower level execs and salespeople what they think of any competitor, let alone the industry disruptor. It’s in boardrooms in Detroit, Seoul, Stuttgart and Tokyo where top execs sign the checks and where opinions count. Occasionally, one of these top execs tells a reporter or trade show gathering what he/she really thinks about Tesla. We know they watch every move Musk makes and check the sales numbers on the hour, seven days per week. I do not believe even one top car company does not believe Tesla will fail. Last week’s admittance by big-mouth Musk to an interviewer that Tesla was single digit days away from collapse back in May did nothing to dispell this widely held belief. With one month of profitability under his belt and huge investments looming for Model Y and Semi, it will be a seat-of-his pants rollercoaster ride well into five more years. As a huge Tesla promoter,… Read more »

Having recently completed a lemon law on a 2017 Audi.I can say they still have zero clue. Considering I reached out to an executive after dealing with the poor customer service for months.They dropped me to their customer service manager who was authorized to be idignant. NEVER return to the brand. Tesla friends haven’t looked back because the customer service is 90% superb, it compensates for when the quality can be less so. EVERY person I meet,I literally suggest they look at a BEV if they don’t already own one, specifically a Tesla. Hard to continue disparaging a company that delivers a product,and supplies the power it needs to provide the buyer with and end to end experience.