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Which direction should Tesla go as a company?

Discussion in 'Tesla Motors' started by dsm363, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    I think most people have agreed with the direction Tesla has been taking as a company (start low volume/expensive sports car and work down towards more affordable/mass market cars). A dicsuccsion was started here that Tesla should have come out with a supercar/McLaren F1 fighter EV to wow the world again and leave the mass market cars to the big players (I assumer Ford, Nissan, Renault...etc).

    I'm on the side that Tesla is making the right moves, at least for the US. Americans may think the Roadster is cool but it's not really practical and too expensive. Without something more affordable and practical, Tesla would remain a niche player. They could do that and probably survive being a boutique car maker and selling powertrain components but that's not Elon's vision of getting as many EVs out to drivers as possible and changing again what an EV means to the general public (no longer a tiny, limited range city car).
     
  2. heems

    heems Member

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    Wow the world again you say? Making another super car would have been another yawn not a wow. Make a (more) affordable mainstream car that has a legitimate shot at doing the previously thought impossible (transform mass transit), now that's a wow... and exactly what Tesla is and going to do...
     
  3. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    I agree. Just trying to present the other side as well.
     
  4. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Having enough factory space stopped being a concern for them.
    Logistically everything seems to be in place for them to expand to higher volume production in the future.
    I think they proved their point with the first Roadster.

    With that said, I sure hope they do another!

    By the way:
    Next gen Roadster
     
  5. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    It's rarely helpful to tell a successful businessman how to run his company. Or welcome.

    That said, I think their strategy is solid. If they want to eventually have a big impact as a company they have to slowly move downscale.
     
  6. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    I, too, agree with what Tesla is doing. I don't think another supercar would have done much in the grand scheme of things. They made their point, now let's drive it home. Once they do that, if they want to bring on another halo car, I'm all for it -- but they couldn't go on building somewhat impractical toys for the masses forever.

    Also, as I said in that thread, Tesla has preorders for more Model S sedans than they ever sold of the Roadster. I think that in itself sort of tells the story of whether or not they're heading in the right direction from a business standpoint. I understand that Tesla's products may not appeal to those whom the roadster appealed to, but that just means Tesla isn't right for THEM, not that they COMPANY is moving in the wrong direction (FWIW, I have no interest in bluestar, but still think it's the right move).
     
  7. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I made this same point on the Next Roadster thread and I'll repeat it here. I don't even think that Tesla will make the next Roadster a supercar. Top Gear often describes supercars as an outrageous car full of pomp and circumstance. Will the new Roadster be spectacular as a sporty road car? Absolutely. I'd expect it to be more like a better version of the 911 than a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Tesla has a big factory and they want to make a lot of cars. The new Roadster should be competitive and better than a sports car that sells more than 10,000 cars in a year and that is the Porsche 911.
    That's my guess.
     
  8. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    Agreed, and from my perspective, for just about everything except range and trackability, the Roadster already did that. It drives better, the interior is nicer (obviously, IMO - I was not fond of the explosion-of-unlabelled-chicklet-buttons 911 console, or the think-like-me-dammit HVAC controls), and (again IMO), the Roadster looks better.

    Of course, there's lots of room for improvement. And I'm sure some would point out the Roadster's lower top speed.

    I think having a more expensive halo car, where the more far-out-there technologies can be tried, will eventually be useful for Tesla.
     
  9. Jason S

    Jason S Model S Sig Perf (P85)

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    Now now, to be fair to the other thread the direction was two-fold: make a really awesome technological show-off car and sell the technology to make the mass market stuff to existing mass market builders.

    The show-off car is really exciting. It would've been cool to place 2 performance level engines in a Model S, pack the batteries in a bit tighter, make the whole thing the size of a 911... that would've been really interesting. Might've sold a few thousand of those at $250,000 each. Maybe even per year.

    At the same time they could've licensed the technology to somebody like... Toyota or... Mercedes Benz... somebody like that. Maybe made a good chunk of change on that. Maybe not.

    But they're going this other direction, going head to head with even the same companies they'd be licensing technology to. Bit of a rough thing to compete with your own customers, but that's the current direction in a way.

    I think without the extraordinary good luck of getting the NUMI plant, Tesla would be in a very different position. As is, however, the current direction seems to be working ok.
     
  10. VolkerP

    VolkerP EU Model S P-37

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    #10 VolkerP, Jun 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
    I agree that Tesla should follow its "secret master plan". I was amused that the other thread went a little haywire as two red flags were mentioned: Renault Zoe and 3 phase. DISCLAIMER I have no intent to derail this thread, too, so please don't pick up on this! I have to hold fire not to do it, too. :wink:

    I draw the conclusion that there are tiny but important differences between U.S. and European customers view of a car. With options in place like tax credit, various federal state credits and tax waivers, and the green car credit trade system, Tesla is well advised to focus on North America and to build a car that is marketable in a mid-volume segment there.

    Edit: Quote from the blog entry linked above:
    Now there are several $250,000+ electric supercars on their way: Exagon Furtive, Rimac Concept_One, Venturi Fetish. No need for another electric halo car from Tesla in that league of cars.

    Disclaimer: My point of view may be biased because I need these 5+2 seats.
     
  11. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    In terms of what they "should" do, I personally feel they should do both (a high volume car like the Gen III and a low volume sports/super car like the Roadster, perhaps on the same platform). In terms of what they will do, it looks like they have both planned already.

    As for the reasoning, the Gen III is obvious (helps Tesla grow as a company and accomplishes the goal of increasing the volume of EVs significantly). The next-gen Roadster should continue to exist as a homage to the car that started it all and also to showcase the absolute cutting edge in EV technology (in power if not range as well). It'll also be the halo car for the company and likely the car that gets people the most excited.
     
  12. Kevin Sharpe

    Kevin Sharpe Active Member

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    #12 Kevin Sharpe, Jun 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
    I'll take a stab at presenting a widely held view on this side of the pond.... you can believe it or not, but please do understand that many Roadster owners do not participate in TMC so you'll not necessarily get this reflected in posts here. Also many Tesla employees that I've met couldn't possibly say what they think. I appreciate it will be a little controversial for people who like the Model S and Model X :wink:

    Note: let me just say at the outset that I love my Roadster and fully support Tesla (in the next two weeks alone I'm attending three charity events and heavily promoting Tesla and other electric car's).

    Here's what I wish Tesla had done...

    (1) 3.0 Roadster

    Today we should already be driving Roadsters with the following upgrades;

    300+ miles range
    43kW 3 Phase AC charging
    J1772 (US) and "mennekes" (ROW) charging connectors

    These upgrades would have been extremely cheap and easy to deliver. This would push the boundary of what's possible in an EV much further and allow owners to participate in many more ICE competitions around the world. Imagine the PR of an annual trans-europe or trans-US event. Or full participation in Gumball 3000!

    Also think of the value to RND of those enhancements.


    (2) 3.5 Roadster

    Cosmetic and feature upgrades... again, cheap and easy to deliver.


    (3) Roadster Race/Performance Team

    Tesla should have a small team constantly developing Roadster Race/Performance upgrades that allow it to participate in events demonstrating it's technical prowess.

    I'm thinking small capacity battery, ultra fast charge, high speed, anything that pushes Tesla forward in the mind of the ICE race fraternity.

    Nürburgring, Le Mans, etc...


    (4) next generation Super Car

    I would like to have seen Tesla develop a true super car to compete squarely with the Ferrari's and Lamborghini's of this world.

    This is a small market of a few hundred cars a year but it's PR reach is enormous (just like the Roadster). I would argue that for a company interested in the transition from oil then demonstrating real alternatives at the pinnacle of motoring is critical.

    Lots of ideas have been discussed here on TMC in terms of performance and other criteria for this car.

    By way of a benchmark I would suggest people take a look at the Exagon Furtive e-GT which is the closest car I know in terms of EV performance and super car build quality. Before you dismiss this car can I suggest that you sit in one? Also please remember that I could take delivery before a Model S in the UK.

    I believe the Tesla super car could have been developed at much less cost than the Model S and would once again demonstrate the value and prowess of Tesla's technology.


    (5) technology transfer

    During all of the above I think Tesla could be selling technology to other car companies. I appreciate that the income from this might not be as great as the potential income from Model S/X. However, I would also argue that the monies being spent on development and company infrastructure would be a lot less as well.


    (6) Tesla technology in an existing mass produced car

    I would like to have seen an existing mule used to lower the development burden on a next generation car. IMO this would deliver a car quicker, cheaper, and with a lot less risk.

    I know Tesla worked hard at this in the early days and I'm sure a deal could have been struck. Remember that the Roadster, RAV4, and others are exactly this.

    You all love your 17" screens, wooden dash, and crazy doors, but IMO this is where much of the risk lies for Tesla.... they do power-trains, electronics, and batteries really, really well.... can they actually match this with the rest of the car?
     
  13. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    With the possible exception of the super car (we don't know anything about their plans performance wise), I believe Tesla plans to do all of the above, just not solely those things.

    As for the S and X, I know ,in the UK especially, that those vehicles may be seen as too big and not what is desired. Markets are different, and that's understandable. However, can we at least agree that from a business perspective they are likely to sell more of these vehicles than they would roadsters or super cars? Can we also agree that the S and X go a longer way of getting more people to adopt EVs here in the states than a sports car would?

    It's TBD of Tesla will succeed or not building an entire car (interior material and build quality etc), but they couldn't continue modifying lotuses forever either. Yes, the touch screen is loved, never had anyone say much positive about the units they threw in the roadster. Not even sure why the screen is under fire here though -- they might put one in the next roadster anyway, so it's not like it's the S or X's folly.
     
  14. daniel

    daniel Active Member

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    I have a very high degree of confidence in Elon Musk's business accumen and his ability to pull off his vision, and I think his vision is the right one. If any of us was as competent as he, we'd be super-rich and could build our own companies following our own vision. I think the direction he is taking Tesla is the one most likely to succeed.

    While Kevin has a point that a quarter-million-dollar supercar would be a real attention-getter, I think it would get the attention of the wrong people. We all want EVs to become mainstream, and I think the way to do this is not to focus on a supercar for the filthy rich, a car which cannot even show its capabilities off the race track, whose top speed is a hundred mph or more over the speed limit and whose acceleration is so great that it's dangerous with anyone other than a professional race car driver at the wheel, a car that's of interest only to the small minority of racing enthusiasts; but rather to focus on getting to mass production of a mass-market EV as quickly as possible, which is what Tesla is doing.

    I think that building a Roadster Mk II is a good idea, and I believe Elon intends to do that, when they're ready, after the Model X or after Bluestar. It will be an improved version, but I don't think it needs increased range or acceleration as much as it needs refinements in comfort, cabin layout, and cooling of drive train components for sustained performance. I see the bigger issue not as beating more cars on the track, but rather as sports-car road driving in mountainous terrain and hot weather without having to reduce performance due to overheating. The Roadster is not a race car, it's a sports car. I'll never drive over the speed limit (well, maybe 5 mph over) and I'll probably never take my car on a track, but if I lived in Arizona or Colorado I'd want to have full performance out to my car's full range (or until the battery is getting low) regardless of terrain or hot weather.

    So I think that Tesla is on precisely the right track, headed for an affordable family sedan, and no fossil-fuel engines ever, no range-extenders, no compromises to the vision of pure electric transportation. And once the company is solidly established, it will have an EV for the common folk, a sporty sedan, a crossover, and a sports car, and in the more distant future, probably several models in each category. At that point, perhaps they'll have a version of the Roadster for racing, with beefed-up power electronics and motor(s) and lighter battery, but this should take a back seat (as I think it will) to the real purpose of the company, which is and always has been to replace stinkers with EVs on America's roads.
     
  15. Kevin Sharpe

    Kevin Sharpe Active Member

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    IMO it's rather naive to equate competency and money... I know many people who are incompetent and super-rich...I also know people who are 'wealthy' with no money :cool:
     
  16. Kevin Sharpe

    Kevin Sharpe Active Member

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    for me that's the heart of the question... would Tesla have more global impact if it sold technology to others or cars in it's own name...

    Let me give you an example... 20 years ago I developed a piece of technology that is today involved in the processing of the majority of prescriptions fulfilled in the US... this hasn't made me Super-Rich but it did allow me to 'retire' from my day job at 50. Question is, would I have had more impact building the whole system or just the widget?
     
  17. Citizen-T

    Citizen-T Active Member

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    Elon (and by extension, Tesla) has definitely made a point to equate the "Tesla" brand with performance recently. Look back at the talks since Oct. 2 event. All of the sudden Elon starts saying things like (paraphrase) "being Tesla, we went ahead and created a performance version". They have made a deliberate decision that the Tesla brand stands for Performance (more like a Porche or BMW type brand than a Lexus).

    I think that this is brilliant. Elon has always position Tesla in such a way that it attacks the perceived shortcomings of EVs head-on, performance chief among them. I think that this strategy mandates that Tesla continue to build "halo" cars like the Roadster.

    That said, I don't think it needs to be an either or situation. Elon has said (paraphrase) "we need to learn to do more than one thing at a time". Elon's original business plan on extends to about 2015/16 when the BMW 3-series competitor arrives. What happens after that is still up in the air (well, they probably have an idea, but it isn't public).

    This is what I would like to see (not necessarily in this order):
    - a well rounded family of offerings on Gen III including BMW 3-series like sendan/coupe/hatchback/cabriolet
    - a new Roadster, better than the first, but at a lower price so they can sell a few thousand a year
    - a halo car, something to lust after (very low volume)

    While Elon wants to be the driving force that removes all ICEs from the road, I don't think that it makes sense to use the Tesla brand to reach and lower than Gen III. I think that if you start selling super cheap, slow, boring cars for the masses (a Gen IV platform if you will) under the Tesla banner, you are going to start to blur your brand story. Instead, I think that a great strategy would be to let Toyota or Ford or some other company have that market, and sell them design and power-train services. This way you could just stamp those cars "Tesla Inside" raising the desirability of those cars without degrading the Tesla image much. Much like the way BMW sells their engines to other car companies.

    Alternatively, Tesla could buy or create a second brand to sell those types of cars. I'm less in favor of this approach. Elon has said, Tesla is a hard-core engineering company. That type of organization needs to be working on the cutting-edge, in a segment that will pay for cutting-edge, not trying to figure out how to dumb-down their accomplishments to make them cheaper so they can move x-hundred thousand units.
     
  18. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    There are two questions. What should Tesla do, and what do I want Tesla to do.

    First, what should Tesla do:

    charging:
    1. They should sell the supercharger hardware at cost, and have people on staff to assist those who would develop locations to install them. Many members of the community would volunteer their time to help Tesla develop the charging network.
    2. They should license their plug and socket to a 3rd party vendor and allow that vendor to sell it to whoever wants it so that other charging solutions are developed.
    3. They should foster the development of multi-cable chargers so that a single unit could have CHAdeMO, SAE, and Tesla plugs.
    4. They should view the installation of (super)charging in target markets as a loss leader to sell cars.


    cars:
    1. There should be no convertible model of the Model S/X line. That is a waste of time and resources.
    2. The Gen3 should offer a sedan, crossover and sports coupe/sedan variant. The sport version of the Gen3 could function as the new performance halo car. They do not need to develop a pure sports car / roadster bodystyle to accomplish this.
    3. They should offer Tesla drivetrain technology to small manufacturers and the DIY market so that they can develop racecar and performance EVs - badged "powered by Tesla".
     
  19. Lokolo

    Lokolo Member

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    What about having something like a Franchise?
     
  20. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    Unfortunately a franchise doesn't make sense. There is no money to be made. The only model that works is charging is a loss leader.
    Tesla needs charging to sell cars.
    Eventually businesses that want your patronage will put out charging as a loss leader to attract you and they can take the burden over from Tesla.
     

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