When looking at manufacturers trying to make it in the mainstream automotive industry, it now takes the average brand about a decade to get on the right track to quality products that can compete on a global scale, often getting there through poaching engineers and designers from more established brands. The Chinese are doing it and doing it well, and it took the Koreans even longer with brands like Hyundai and KIA, which only gained market footholds in recent times.
What happens when you're an early innovator in a highly competitive global industry?
Tesla, for all its cult following and intrigue surrounding the badge, is hemorrhaging money. Leading the charge in upending established auto industry status quos costs a lot of money, and the electric car maker is currently feeling the heat of ramping up production while taking on the giants single-handedly. With their new Model 3 and promises of scaling up in order to meet the enormously growing demand for EVs, Tesla has found itself in hot water – in what Elon Musk himself has labelled a “manufacturing hell”, the company has managed to produce only 222 Model 3 “mass market” cars in a period where they promised 1500. Scaling up has meant Tesla is spending in excess of $1 billion a quarter in order to fix issues with Model 3 production, and they seem to be desperately looking for a way out of the frying pan they've seemingly forced themselves into.
That way out comes from two new models, apparently. The Tesla Roadster, one of the first instances that the now-famous T badge was slapped on, is back with hypercar levels of performance, while the much-discussed Semi truck is aimed at the trillion-dollar logistics industry in the United States.
Priced at an astonishing $250,000, Tesla no doubt hopes that the Roadster will inject some much-needed cash into their revolutionary enterprise of making the electric car mainstream. They've done this before –they took advantage of huge interest in the Model 3 to take down payments from prospective customers, which they channeled back into tooling up efforts for production. There's no doubt that the Roadster looks exciting on paper (see panel for more info), but there are a lot of factors to consider before comparing it to the likes of the Bugatti Chiron or Koenigsegg's mental hypercars, as many are doing on social media following the Roadster's reveal. For one, the Roadster's design, as is the case with most EVs which have to be aerodynamically efficient in order to extend range, is as drab and unexciting as a clay model with flat surfaces. Then there's the lack of noise – considering the target market, this is a huge issue as traditional combustion powered supercars are mostly made of noise and fury, while the Roadster will be as quiet as the wind.
It simply does not invoke enough soul to win over the typical supercar or hypercar buyer. As far as fundraising attempts go, there might not be enough interest in this one to generate the kind of funds Tesla needs to stay afloat long enough. Orus dinosaurs could be proven wrong, yet again, by Elon Musk and co. b