Tesla Competitors Analysis [2021]: Who Are Its Biggest Threats?

Even though Elon Musk is the most famous and well-known CEO of Tesla, there are a lot of people that don’t know or realize that the original founders and CEOs of Tesla are actually Martin Eberhard (2003-2007) and Marc Tarpenning (2003-2008). Elon Musk is Tesla’s fourth CEO and second chairman of the board. Despite the fact that Elon Musk has taken Tesla to some great heights and has always been very supportive, he isn’t the creator of Tesla.

The Beginning

Eberhard and Tarpenning met and became good friends sometime in the 1980s. It wasn’t until 1997 that they founded the “The Rocket eBook,” an electronic reader. The second-generation eBook reader switched from nickel-metal rechargeable batteries to using Lithium-ion batteries. Here is where the idea of using a Lithium-ion battery for cars was born.

Having an interest in and owning all types of sports cars, whether they were gas run sports cars or electric sports cars, Eberhard and Tarpenning were looking for anyone who might be interested in developing an energy efficient car. Not having any experience with automobiles, but desiring to have an energy efficient sports car, Eberhard reached out and invested in a small company in southern California. The company was AC Propulsion, who was already experimenting with homemade electric cars. Eberhard asked AC Propulsion if they would be willing to build electric sports car for him. That car was developed and powered by lead acid and only lasted for a short time, because the batteries were very dangerous and unpredictable in their performance.

Eberhard wanted something other than gasoline to power a car so he decided to do the math to see what the best and most efficient source of power would be. After studious research on several different methods, Eberhard concluded that a car powered by electricity was the best power source when it came to energy efficiency. Thinking back on how well the Lithium-ion batteries worked in their second-generation electronic reader compared to the first-generation nickel-metal rechargeable battery, Eberhard developed the concept that the Lithium-ion battery would work in a car if given a chance.

The First Battery

Agreeing with the idea of the Lithium-ion battery, this same small company in southern California agreed to be financed by Eberhard to convert their small lead acid sports car into a Lithium-ion battery run sports car, which was the beginning of the Tesla battery powered car. Eberhard and Tarpenning both felt that the Lithium-ion battery was the answer to the energy efficient car and that the task was capable of being accomplished. However, the concern now was how to build a car to shape itself around the Lithium-ion battery and still look good to the eye.

Deciding to outsource their idea of trying to produce a shape for their car, they reached out to an English company named Lotus. After presenting their idea to this company, Eberhard and Tarpenning were then invited to England to share more of their idea with the Lotus company. As stated in a letter, Lotus agreed to the possibility of being partners with Eberhard and Tarpenning, if they were genuinely able to get the Lithium-ion battery idea to come to fruition. This gave investors a more realistic idea that things were in the works and that there were actual plans and back up plans to help support this new type of energy-efficient car. Thus, July 1, 2003, Tesla Motors was incorporated.

Asking Elon for Help

After being turned down by several other investing prospective companies, Eberhard and Tarpenning took the opportunity to present their energy-efficient sports car idea to Elon Musk. Musk caught on to Eberhard’s and Tarpenning’s idea and vision right away. However, the old image of what electric cars were known to resemble were in dire need of being structurally upgraded in looks. With this knowledge, developing a radically different looking and high performing sports car was necessary to tear down this grave image of ugliness. Then the goal was to follow that idea with more mainstream types of cars and styles as the market led.

Eberhard and Tarpenning never doubted that they could create, teast, and design a batter system from scratch that would scale to the size of a car battery, and they took the challenge willingly. They both felt it could be done but sometimes were more challenging than others, especially during the recall on laptop Lithium-ion batteries that had the possibility of catching on fire. However, they were determined to understand the pros and cons of making this battery system and learning how to make this idea succeed.

Eberhard and Tarpenning ran into several technical setbacks while building the foundation of Tesla and inventing their energy-efficient car. Such setbacks involved getting suppliers to supply materials such as air bags, ordinary door handles, seat belts, and door latches along with safety components. Lotus’ relationship with suppliers helped Tesla get through this unexpected setback.

The Way Tesla Does Business

Sales and preorders were not they way Tesla planned to do business, but it has worked out regardless. Seeing the interest of customers and investors being willing to pay the full price of a car before it was even built helped establish and perfect this new and unusual way of purchasing cars. The plan was to showcase various prototypes along with receptions at different venues to keep interested customers engaged and let them follow the journey while observing the productivity.

This way of engagement created a more interest because customers could observe the setbacks as well as the progress that was taking place. Because of this way of modeling their cars, more and more people wanted to be on this purchasing list, despite having to pay the total cost of the car up front. Paying customers were believers that this invention was going to happen, so they didn’t mind the investment even though neither the customer nor the inventors had any idea of the timeline of its birth.

Tesla Advantages

  • Tesla has an outstanding range of all electric models offered
  • Tesla’s Model 3 has a price that is comparable to the average price of a new vehicle in the US
  • Tesla’s creative design inside and out perplexes competitors

Tesla Challenges

  • Tesla has their fair share of manufacturing obstructions causing delays for pre-purchased buyers
  • Tesla purchasers have had trouble acquiring parts along with service
  • Despite the conflicts Tesla buyers have faced, they still want to be part of the Tesla inventiveness

Brands that can or are meant to compete with Tesla

  • Audi E-tron
  • Jaaguar I-PACE
  • BMW i3
  • Porsche Taycan

Mainstream Electric Vehicles

  • Chevy Bolt
  • Honda Clarity Electric
  • Kia Niro
  • Hyundai
  • Volkswagen e-golf
  • Nissan Leaf & Leaf Plus

Kelley Blue Book Comparisons

Kelley Blue Book offers several different factors for comparison when evaluating Tesla and its competitors.

Starting price

  • Tesla – $51,690
  • Audi e-tron – $66,995
  • Jaguar I-Pace – $69,850
  • BMW i3 – $37,990
  • Porsche Taycan 4S – $103,800

Features

  • Tesla – Long range, seats 7; very quick; over-the-air updates; outstanding driver-support tech
  • Audi e-tron – Loads of style; zero discharges; conventional all-wheel drive; luxury features
  • Jaguar I-Pace – Sleek styling; enjoyable driving features; capable of limited off-road driving
  • BMW i-3 – Three years or 36,000 miles free maintenance
  • Porsche Taycan – Low center of gravity gives a feel of stability; rear-wheel steering; carbon-ceramic brakes

Disadvantages

  • Tesla – No Apple/Android integration; everything is touchscreen; fit and finish; no buttons
  • Audi e-tron – Top trims can become expensive; lags in range with some competitors; resale is unknown
  • Jaguar I-Pace – Tends to have an expensive price; legroom can be tight; no towing accessory
  • Porshe Taycan – No Android integration; range is shorter than Tesla; more expensive than a Tesla; power is slightly slower than Tesla; options list can raise the selling price quickly

Electric Performance

The electric performance of perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when evaluating which one might be right for you.

Tesla Model Y

 

  • Range 326 miles – higher than many competitors
  • Augmented acceleration
  • Excellent performance on power
  • Spacious seating for five and up to seven passengers
  • Up front storage area takes the place of the gasoline engine
  • 15-inch touchscreen centerpiece that controls everything
  • Automatic braking system, blind-spot monitoring, steering assistance
  • Semi-autonomous driving levels

Audi e-tron

  • Range a little over 220 miles – comparable to other electric crossovers
  • Acceleration to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds
  • Torque from 414 lb-ft to 490 and horsepower from 355 to 402 boost mode
  • Adequate seating for five
  • Usable storage space of 57 cubic feet when all seats are folded
  • 10.1-inch touchscreen
  • Blind-spot awareness and cross-traffic alerts, 360-degree camera, automatic braking system
  • Heated and messaging front seats

Jaguar I-Pace

 

  • Ranges around 234 miles before a needed charge
  • All four wheels receive a nice bit of power from the electric motors situated at each end of the car
  • Has an acceleration up to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds because of its back up of 512 pound-feet of torque and 394 horsepower
  • Recommend four adults for a comfortable seating, but if in a pinch five will fit
  • Fairly decent backend luggage space with a small bit of space under the hood
  • Panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery are both standard luxuries
  • Alerts for rear cross-traffic, parking sensors both front and back along with the availability of parking assistance
  • Navigational 11.4-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Android /Apple integration

BMW i3

  • On board gas-fueled generator will always get you to where you are going
  • 36.9 cubic feet of storage with the backseats down
  • Wi-Fi hotspot and comes with Apple CarPlay
  • Suburban and image-conscious customers love the industrial-chic style

Porsche Taycan

  • Zero-emissions, all electric
  • Eye appealing design inside and out that shows off that Porsche eminence
  • Lane marking assistance, standard automatic emergency braking
  • Realistic seating for four or five passengers
  • Now available with SiriusXM 360L
  • Range of 227 miles – even being all-electric, Porsche’s goal isn’t based on miles
  • Driver engagement with all the style you need
  • Function on Demand packages – uploading software over the air

How these brands are similar

  • Very quick
  • Same on charging time
  • Same type of warranty
  • All-wheel drive

How these brands compete

  • Tesla – cargo space; fuel economy; lower starting price; much longer range; backseat legroom
  • Audi e-tron – two body styles; build quality; luxury looks and feel
  • Jaguar I-Pace – moderate off-road capability; luxury feel and quality; ride height is adjustable
  • Porsche Taycan – Able to adapt promptly to road conditions; preservation of battery charge rate which helps in preserving the life of the battery longer

Tesla is a company that produces fully electric cars. These aren’t hybrids or electric cars with a backup engine. They’re totally electric. The responsibility of not getting stranded on the side of the road is the same whether it is a gas run car or an electric run car. Tesla has provided and is continuing to expand charging stations conveniently placed across the nation and worldwide for their customers while traveling. Charging rates are typically cheaper than gas rates. Customers also have the option of installing a personal charging station at home which also saves them time and money compared to gas.

Safety features are high priority on all four of the Tesla brand car models giving Tesla a five-star rating of safety for every category from the NHTSA. In the event of an accident, Tesla has included safety elements to help avoid all possible accidents. All models include automatic emergency braking, lane departure avoidance, and blind-spot monitoring amenities at no extra cost. Auto-pilot includes adaptive cruise control which helps adjust your speed and brake adapting to the vehicles around you. Auto steering keeps your vehicle centered in the lane. All of these standard features can help relieve the stress of driving and make for a much more pleasant trip. Full Self-Driving Capability is an expensive feature that is in the process of being introduced to Tesla models soon. However, it is important to note that you shouldn’t risk purchasing a Tesla or any other vehicle based on upcoming features, even though those features are seemingly incredible.

Free over the air software is available throughout the year to either update the already placed software or add new features to your car. Tesla also has a phone app to let you remotely control things like the climate, charging percentages, and summoning your car. The app also allows you to lock the doors, vent the windows, honk the horn, and much more.

One pedal driving is created from regenerated braking taking the energy from braking and putting it back into the battery. When letting off the gas pedal the car automatically starts braking. After getting used to this feature of distance and when to let off the gas, you don’t want to go back to the old standard way of braking.

Little to no maintenance cost is a big aspect of an electric car. There are no standard oil changes to have to worry about for maintaining your car. The basic maintenance consists of adding windshield wiper fluid. However, there can be some factory production problem issues.

FAQ

If you’re considering purchasing an electric car, there are plenty of things to think about. It’s a big change going from gas to electric, so these frequently asked questions may help you learn more.

Question: What is important to know when traveling in my Tesla?

Answer: Here are some considerations for driving a Tesla:

– Long Term Charging – your battery is designed to not overcharge for a prolonged length of time
– Road Trips – Tesla’s Go Anywhere tool helps you plan out a course of travel, along with other awesome features, configuring Supercharger venues while on your road trip or vacation
– Maximizing Your Range of Traveling – Check your tire pressure or psi, use “Standard” when decelerating, and sustaining a cool but comfortable temperature inside your Tesla helps maximize your range of travel

Question: What if I get locked out of my car or lose my keys?

Answer: Lockout help is provided if cellular connection is unavailable through Tesla Roadside Support. The Tesla app can help you unlock your car provided you are in an area receiving cell connection. The Tesla app can also remotely start your car and is highly recommended to have on hand for those times of lost keys or fobs.

Question: What type of maintenance is needed?

Answer: The Owner’s Manual offers recommendations of do it yourself type of monthly or daily maintenances. Scheduled type of maintenances to be aware of include changing the brake fluid, rotating the tires, and changing the battery coolant. The Tesla app can help you schedule or be programmed to inform you of any other services that may be needed or required.

Final Thoughts

What is it that potential owners are looking for in owning a Tesla brand electric car? There are a lot of different features that an electric car has to offer and can be appealing to the eye. Tesla has and still is improving the electric car for the potentially interested buyer. It will be exciting to see what the electric car will have to offer in the future. Once you have an electric car you won’t want to go back.

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