Its becoming a thing both in car and tech circles. In both circles Tesla has built a level of evangelism similar to Apple both in the eighties and again in the mid 2000’s. There are large and fundamental differences though.
First, Apple started in the late seventies in a Garage by two people. Tesla was acquired by a billionaire that made his money with internet banking, and uses both his own and government money for a company that hasn’t operated at a profit yet. Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen Microbus and Steve Wozniak sold his calculator to get Apple started.
Second, Apple actually changed the world. They introduced the GUI (Graphical User Interface – a mouse and folder system) you are using now, and if you’re on a smart phone or tablet then they brought that to the masses as well – they made an actual fast and useable tablet interface so far before anyone else that they didn’t have any actual competitors in the market they for quite a long time. Through the decades Apple has lead computing forward by being ahead of the curve and making more smart choices than bad, and as a result the company is largely responsible for the forward state of computing today.
Tesla haven’t changed much at all though. Cars already exist and theirs have four wheels, a power unit, a couple of control pedals and a steering wheel like all the others. They’ve more pushed things forward with the *threat* of disruption through electric power than with actual disruption. Same goes for the idea of automated driving. The first Tesla model was not a success and the newer ones are… fine. Fine, but massively overpriced for what they are.
The problem is that other companies have actually beaten Tesla to the punch, and they didn’t have the disadvantage of being a start up that had to put out a massively overpriced product (if you have been in a Tesla you’ll have noticed it doesn’t feel like a $60,000 to $120,000 car inside). To get to the point they could release the sub $35,000 EV car with a range that won’t give people anxiety, Tesla had to go big and sell an idea rather than a finished product. Hence people are buying their cars becoming beta testers by driving them.
In the meantime Chevrolet have released a very good EV called the Bolt that has an EPA estimated 238 mile range, then after rebates comes in under $30,000. Other manufactures have either just released a decent full EV or are about to. As it stands, it’s been a year since Tesla started taking deposits of $1000 a piece for their affordable EV that still hasn’t gone into production.
It gets even more bizarre though in the “disruption” area of Tesla. Elon Musk claimed recently that they would be building “1,000 cars a week in July, 2,000 a week in August, and 4,000 a week in September.” – Tesla then plans to increase production to 5,000 cars a week by the end of the year, and 10,000 a week by the end of 2018.
The reality is that to reach those numbers, Tesla would need to both have the ability and market to build and sell 430,000 vehicles by the end of next year.
He also claimed that Tesla thinks it can build 500,000 total cars next year – which pretty much every analyst I’ve come across thinks is ludicrous. For a reality check, consider the fact Tesla currently makes 2,000 Model S and Model X cars a week, so around 104,000 a year.
Also consider the fact that 430,000 units is more than the total amount of all the electric cars sold last year.
Lofty goals for a car that has been beaten to an inevitable market. It’s also a strange interpretation of the word disruption.
So it’s time to stop the lazy Apple comparison. Even if Musk and Tesla manage to pull of the biggest sea change in automotive history since Ford starting selling the Model T, then the Apple comparison still doesn’t really work.