Tesla has an overwhelming amount of influence on the automotive sector, and for a company that has only been building cars for 12 years, that’s pretty impressive. Not only has the company shown that cars can be powered by batteries and still be cool, but it is changing other, more subtle details. For example, cars don’t need buttons and knobs for every function they hold. Other car companies are adopting minimalistic designs, simply because Tesla showed that they are just as, if not more, effective as all those annoying buttons that used to dominate car interiors.
In addition to those subtle details, the overall adoption of the EV sector by consumers can basically be attributed to Tesla’s mass appeal. While Elon Musk has always said that branding is dumb, Tesla has a great “brand.” Forever, people thought that EVs were these whining cars that could only go 80 miles before you’d have to plug it in again. But Tesla is different. Tesla has a mystique about it, a certain brand appeal. People look at $35,000 Teslas the same way they do a $200,000 Lamborghini.
But what might be more impressive about Tesla than its appeal to consumers is the fact that car companies that have been around for over 100 years are chasing after a 12-year-old car company run by a guy who loves video games, silly jokes, and is more interactive with followers than any other CEO on the planet.
The fact of the matter is, Tesla changed the game. While they might not have invented the first electric car, they made the idea better. While they may not be the first company to make a semi-autonomous car, they made the idea better. And while they may not have built the first battery that ever went into an EV, they made the idea better.
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Now, everyone is hopping on board. This is where I ask: Do you think that Volkswagen, GM, Ford, and others would be developing EV tech if Tesla never existed?
I don’t think so. I think this is where examining the influence on the automotive market as a whole that Tesla has had so far is worth noting. But when you have this influence, there come some negatives.
This week, Tesla news has been flooded by reviews and examples of the Full Self-Driving Beta. It’s been out for about a week and a half, and we’ve seen the self-driving tech in a variety of settings and environments. We all know that this is a rough draft of what will be released in a few months to more owners, and we know that there are going to be critiques and criticisms about what Tesla could have done differently.
However, there are already reviews, like the one from Consumer Reports, claiming that Tesla Autopilot is a “distant-second” to GM’s Super Cruise. Unbelievably, the Tesla community has come to expect that mainstream publications and journalism outlets will side with other companies. It is something that has not surprised anyone when it comes to Tesla and another carmaker.
Interestingly, Super Cruise was not widely talked about by media outlets until Tesla’s FSD Beta was released. Now, the idea that GM has this all-capable Super Cruise that is so much better than Autopilot is supposed to be accepted. If this was the case, why was nobody really mentioning Super Cruise before? All we heard about was Tesla Autopilot.
Another case of Tesla “leading the herd” and influencing other car companies, is batteries. When Tesla started talking about a million-mile battery a few months back, everyone outside the community was skeptical. Telling family and friends about their developments was like trying to convince them Santa Claus is real. They just weren’t buying it.
However, GM then said that they were closer to a million-mile battery than ever before. Did they outline their plan? No. Did they say where they were sourcing material from? No. They just said, “We have a battery. It’s better than Tesla’s.” That was that, and everyone outside the community bought it.
What does Tesla do? Has an entire day devoted to batteries and cell development. Showing the new 4680 cells, breaking down how it will be better but more affordable, and how it will be on par with gas car pricing was something to admire. However, after showing the cell, how they were building it, and outlining that it was already being produced right down the street from Fremont, people still didn’t believe it.
GM was all talk, and it was believable. Tesla showed it, and it was unbelievable.
Media will go after what is familiar and side with the established and long-lasting carmakers before it will ever admit that what Tesla is doing is groundbreaking in every sense of the word. With FSD, we see that Tesla is head and shoulders above GM with Super Cruise. However, these MSM outlets continue to give GM credit, stating that Super Cruise is better than Autopilot, and it isn’t close.
I know that this is likely due to money. It usually has to do with that. But the fact is, Tesla made all of these topics relevant, and the company truly gets no credit. Tesla made EVs relevant, but other car companies are getting the hype, even if their tech doesn’t even exist yet. Tesla made battery cell development relevant, but other companies are getting the credit and the praise, even if they don’t have an EV in production. Tesla made self-driving cars a real possibility. While Waymo was around, GM’s Super Cruise is now being talked about all because Tesla released the FSD Beta.
The reality is, legacy automakers are becoming relevant off of Tesla’s name because they’re following whatever Tesla does. None of these car companies would have changed their strategies if Tesla didn’t exist. This is all proof that Tesla is the most powerful car company on the planet, and everyone is chasing them.
The influence is more than just consumers. It is about an industry as a whole, which is now being controlled by a company that was “graveyard bound,” according to a former GM executive. Now, GM, along with the rest of the automotive world, is chasing after the little guy.
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