Tesla should be used to getting called out by other automakers by now—not that it doesn’t dish out its fair share of industry trash talk from time to time. Now it’s Diarmuid O’Connell, a business development executive, who basically called out the entire field of electric vehicle competition for being boring, claiming automakers are “probably really not even trying.”
The Detroit News quoted O’Connell from his comments at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars, but he had more to say.
According to Automobile Magazine, O’Connell specifically called out the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Chevrolet Spark and Kia’s Soul EV as being weak attempts to advance the state of electric vehicles, insinuating that these legacy automakers probably aren’t interested in trying too hard to refocus their product lines.
From Automobile Magazine:
“In essence, they’ve delivered little more than appliances,” O’Connell said at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars. “Now, appliances are useful. But they tend to be white. They tend to be unemotional.”
Although he’s happy automakers are making EVs, “I just wish they would do them better and faster,” he said.
That’s right, BMW and Nissan and Kia and Chevrolet, be more better and more faster.
Of course Chevrolet’s answer to the 373,000 Tesla Model 3 reservations is the new all-electric Chevy Bolt, which has been claimed to get up to 200 miles of range for a price of around $30,000, after incentives. It’s also planned to go on sale at least a year sooner than the first Model 3 deliveries are scheduled to happen.
There’s also Volvo’s recent focus on hybrid and electric powertrain options by the end of the decade, as well as Porsche directly targeting the Tesla Model S with its upcoming electric sedan based on the glorious Mission E concept.
The facts are that Tesla has never been profitable, it’s projected sales for the Model 3 and its crossover variant are absurd for the scale it’s currently operating at, and it’s been able to stay afloat in no small part by selling off government emissions credits to other companies. There’s also issues of quality control, particularly with the Model X, and production delays. Meanwhile, the competition O’Conner is calling out is quickly catching up.
Of course it’s not likely anyone has ever questioned Tesla for not trying hard enough; quite the opposite in fact. Elon Musk has claimed he’s personally slept on the factory floor. With the recently announced time-frame bump moving the Model 3's production two years early, as well as Musk’s claim that new semi truck and minibus prototypes will be revealed in the next six to nine months, perhaps the company seems to be moving too fast.
Despite U.S. regulators recently relaxing fuel economy standards for automakers in reaction to the low cost of gas at the pump and a consumer shift towards crossover, SUV and truck sales, Tesla’s presence and success has undeniably shifted the attitude and direction of every major automaker.
The majority of autonomous vehicle development programs are almost hand-in-hand with the development of electric powertrains, and with more and more companies springing up claiming to be the next “Tesla fighter,” perhaps O’Conner’s ego for Tesla has room to be a little inflated.