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Is Tesla becoming a "one-trick pony?"

Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by David29, Jul 4, 2017.

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  1. David29

    David29 Active Member

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    The latest spec changes that appeared this week on the Tesla ordering pages, with more acceleration for all Model S and Model X configurations, made me realize how much Tesla seems to emphasize performance, and acceleration in particular, over other aspects of the cars. It is tempting to wonder if Tesla is focusing mainly on the drive train (battery, motors and associated controls) to the detriment of the rest of the car. hence, the concern about a "one trick pony."

    In my own case, I have little interest in having more acceleration. I did not buy a performance model, and am plenty happy about the 0-60 time for my 70D. I enjoy the high torque when I use it. Maybe I am the exception and everyone else really wants more acceleration more than they want any other improvement. But I worry a bit about whether that higher acceleration will, in the long run, also accelerate wear and tear n the battery and drive train.

    Autopilot might be the "second "trick," if you will, and is clearly a big focus of the marketing and presumably of the development resources.

    But there are so many other aspects of the cars that seem to be getting little if any attention, as evidenced by the constant stream of complaints about navigation, interior finishes, seating, paint quality and selection, audio functions, interior lighting, etc., etc.

    And I do recognize the usual argument that Tesla is a small company and only has so many resources, etc. And I expect a lot of engineering has been spent on Model 3 and is not working on the next models (truck, model Y, etc.).

    One related thought: If Tesla were to run out of money and be a target for acquisition, what is its most valuable contribution to EV design? Maybe it is the battery plus drive train. So maybe the goal is to strive to be the leader in those areas as a survival strategy. Lots of companies can make nice interiors and so on, but not so many have Tesla's unique, strong background in successful development of the EV's unique core -- battery, charging, motors, and managing that combination.

    Anyway, just pondering where it all is going. Maybe tomorrow I will be pleasantly surprised and see a revamp of the Model S interior or the navigation improvements we have all been waiting for! But i suspect not...
     
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  2. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Unfortunately, almost all European car reviewers and every North American car reviewer focuses on acceleration as the main feature of the car, with everything else being secondary. If a car can't jackrabbit around a semi going 80 mph, it's underpowered--at least that's what the reviewers would have you believe. It's been that way for longer than I can remember and I don't see it changing. Because reviews are one of the main considerations for most folks who purchase cars, Tesla has little choice but to make their cars perform faster so that they get good reviews. Yes, it's kind of silly, but there you have it.

    I am actually happy with the interior of my 2013 85S. I am less happy with the changes made to the instrument cluster--it's less usable now than when I got it (barely visible in bright sunshine). I'm not all that eager to see an interior change because change often means "make it worse" or "make it cheaper". This happens because the original was the best that they could come up with at the time so any change, by definition, is going to be a downgrade. (Assumes the same set of designers--new designers could improve it but it's a 1d20 dice roll). I think this is a case of be very careful what you wish for.
     
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  3. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    #3 ecarfan, Jul 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
    In my opinion you are not looking at the big picture.

    Yes, Tesla recently decreased the acceleration capabilities of all its new cars with no price increase for the quicker 0-60 times. That's a good thing because it serves to further emphasize the inherent superiority of EVs over ICEs. But Tesla constantly improves its cars in multiple ways, and that is an ongoing process.

    Auto Pilot continues to improve and is far more capable than it was just two years ago. It is currently, hands down, the best self driving system available from any car company. And every Tesla built comes standard with all the sensor and computing hardware for Auto Pilot, including every Model 3 that will be built. No other company does that!

    The Tesla Supercharger network, less than four years after being launched, now offers thousands of charging stalls and continues to expand at a relentless pace. Those who complain that it isn't perfect yet might want to keep in mind that no other car company has anything like it.

    Tesla is constantly improving every aspect of its vehicles and most of the changes are not announced or visible to its customers. But many are obvious and welcome. My S85 is 3 1/2 years old. I just spent time driving my fathers brand new S75D. The differences are extensive: much nicer interior, superior braking feel, incredible all glass roof, much better headlights, better HVAC filters, vastly improved seat comfort, automatic emergency safety systems are standard that my car doesn't have, battery range almost identical to mine even though the battery capacity is less, amazing Auto Pilot, 0-60 time is less, Dual Motors, etc. etc. etc.

    But his new S75D with Enhanced Auto Pilot cost less about $7,000 less than my 2013 S85 single motor with no AP! (Note that the actual S85 battery capacity is only about 81kWh while the S75 is very close to 75kWh)

    "One Trick Pony"? I don't think so.
     
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  4. Sonny Daze

    Sonny Daze Member

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    The drivetrian is why I'm interested in a Tesla, so I'm thrilled that they have a sharp focus on it and performance. I don't spend hours at a time in my car and am not too interested in convenience or luxury features, I want to have fun while I'm driving it (yes, I'm driving it).
     
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  5. cab

    cab Member

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    I do think Tesla is becoming a bit of a one trick (or at least one "formula") pony, but that pony has changed. Early on it was big EV range + fast. Now they have added autopilot and supercharging to that mix. The end game? Simple: Energy. Tesla doesn't want to be the next GM, Ford, Toyota, VW, etc...they want to be the next Exxon. In <10 years we will see any number of big battery, good looking, fast cars (and SUVs), and Tesla will happily start to sell owners all the energy they need. It will be a MUCH longer road than that of course, but that's likely the road nonetheless.

    It's really a pretty wild and ambitious game. They create the market for the energy (in this case electric cars), and THEN come in to supply the energy. Heck, with the Model 3 intro last year we actually saw Tesla go from a seller of cars to a seller of "cool" (a marketer's dream). As a bonus, they even get to sell the whole "green" side of it to. The threat to Tesla (as a company) won't be from car companies it will be from Energy companies. It won't be because they push "oil" as so many fear, but because they will ultimately be able to use their massive cash reserves to move into electric energy sales/delivery.
     
  6. W84M3

    W84M3 Member

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  7. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Always room for a quicker pony.

    And whenever some new "Tesla killer" is announced you can absolutely guarantee that the metrics for said "killing" are range, acceleration and top speed.

    Sure, it's a dumb game. But never underestimate the appeal of dumb games :)
     
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  8. Petra

    Petra Member

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    OP, the items you're bringing up aren't mutually exclusive... Given the nature of the electric drivetrain, acceleration is fairly low hanging fruit that Tesla can easily go after to create differentiation between product lines. It's an area where they can make the most gains with the least expense, unlike with ICE vehicles.
     
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  9. cgiGuy

    cgiGuy Active Member

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    I've never taken a test ride in a car and then bragged to my friends about the size of the trunk opening.
     
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  10. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Showing the size of the frunk and the trunk is fairly common for me. Most people are surprised at all the room. I think it's because so many electric cars have close to zero room.
     
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  11. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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    Own an S (2015) and X (2017)--both with premium packages. Rarely mentioned is how the interior is becoming better and more refined. They are not just improving the acceleration.
     
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  12. Zero CO2

    Zero CO2 a long term goal

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    Tesla's dominant software is the key... that will keep it from being a one trick pony.... i just returned from my summer vacation and have the following observations:
    1) I rented a 2017 Toyota Camry ... obviously not a Telsa but the software in this car reminded me of the Cell phones pre iphone days (unusable)... every time i tried to navigate /play music there was this battle going on ... volume up /volume down it was terrible....buttons switches and knobs ...ugh
    2) went to many remote locations in Oregon and Washington State (Cascades) saw many Telsa's both X and S ....quite surprising as I was having range anxiety in the Camry....this was a concern that is less now after talking to a couple of these owners
    3) I realized on this trip how important the SW on the model S has become to me in the driving experience over the long term .... the HW features fade into the background and the SW becomes the dominant concern as a driver once you have the vehicle for a while

    any way i do agree with some of your points especially as other competitors catch up ... but Telsa's first mover/ecosystem advantage is formidable... thanks for your insights
     
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  13. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I like that you are looking long term at the big picture, but I don't see it quite the same way. We know what Tesla's Mission Statement is:

    Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

    Now it is true that, with the purchase of Solar City, in a way Tesla is in the (sustainable) energy production business. But I see no indication that Elon is interested in owning solar power facilities. He obviously wants to sell them, for commercial and residential use.

    Nor do I see any interest by Elon in making significant profit from selling electricity to Tesla vehicle owners. Even if he wanted to do that it would be a relatively minor revenue stream compared to selling batteries for storage and for use in Tesla vehicles.

    I think that fundamentally Tesla is a sustainable energy storage and management company, whether stationary storage or for mobile use in vehicles. I believed that four years ago when I first started closely following the company, and I believe it is still the case today.

    Also, note the use of the word "accelerate" in the Mission Statement. Elon has said many times that Tesla doesn't need to dominate vehicle sales to achieve its mission, it only needs to be a significant force and compel the other major manufacturers to shift production to EVs. And right now it appears that is beginning to happen. If there was no Tesla I do not believe that any other car company would be introducing new EV models right now or making some many announcements of upcoming new EVs. But that is just speculation on my part.
     
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  14. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    The biggest impact of the new drive units is in the 75kWh varieties 0-60 times. I think the performance improvement is targeted at making the entry level Model S and X more attractive. Tesla seems to be trying to tempt Model 3 reservation holders to make the switch to a Model S by soft selling the Model 3 and reminding potential buyers how awesome Model S is. If I were on the fence about buying a new Model S, this is the type of improvement that would make me buy one. Agree with OP that this could be seen as being one tricks but performance sells cars.
     
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