Tesla wants to change the world and it is doing it in style. The interest in electric cars that provide zero emissions are becoming increasingly widespread especially in the U.S., Europe and China where charging stations are readily available; and Tesla is in the top favorite EV manufacturers. Elon Musk’s company is well known for being innovative and Musk is a personality that people love to hate or consider a genius. The internet cannot stop talking about Tesla and it is certainly capturing the attention of potential buyers. But with all the hype around the company, what other factors put it ahead of its competitors?
Range anxiety is real. Having to stop and charge the car every couple hundred miles or less is a hassle, especially for EV owners that have to commute long distances or enjoy road tripping.
Tesla offers a battery with 250 mile range for the standard Model 3, 348 miles for the performance Model S, 305 miles for the performance Model X, and 315 miles for the Model Y. The closest EV competitors on range, which include Chevrolet, Jaguar and Nissan, only offer up to 260 miles.
Another problem is battery degradation; but tests show degradation at no more than 15% over a 150,000 miles lifespan of a Tesla car. This is based on data which includes the earliest Model S cars from 2012. Some reports even say that latest data shows less than 10% degradation of the battery’s capacity after over 160,000 miles.
Tesla has recently filed a patent for a new additive-mixing battery technology to improve battery live. The company has also updated its warranty coverage for Model S and X that guarantees that the battery will retain 70% capacity during the warranty period (limited to 150,000 miles). Although this new warranty does not cover for changes in battery performance due to software updates, the initial range and proven lifespan still seem like a good deal.
Tesla designs its own self-driving computer which with 2 AI processors, 8 vision cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and radar allow the car to drive itself. Tesla cars originally used Nvidia chips; but to achieve the full self-driving level it aspired to, the company realized that it needed to make its own. The result is a powerful AI chip that can perform 36 trillion operations per second. The computer has 2 of these chips, a redundant design for better safety.
What puts Tesla ahead of other car manufacturers is not just its battery or the electric motor, is the software. Tesla is a software-heavy company and it is going to develop its own software wherever and whenever possible. Currently, the company uses open source software like Linux to build its own operating system.
One of the main features that Tesla car owners appreciate is the free of charge software updates. Some say that every time there is a new update, they feel like they are driving a new car. It allows the company to improve the already existing cars with over-the-air updates that ultimately keep customers happy. The latest update brought the smart summon feature that lets the car drive itself toward you. The update also brought Netflix and Hulu, and car-aoke. I guess no one is bored once inside a Tesla.
When it comes to EVs, not all of them are made equal. Tesla’s designs for its sedans are modern and sophisticated; but the Model 3 has something extra that makes it the most popular Tesla model by far. The car owes its popularity not only to the design but to the futuristic/minimalistic dashboard and the attractive price (compared to other Teslas). This particular model was the best-selling luxury car of 2018 in the U.S. It is considered luxury although Tesla markets it as a “premium sedan” which is intended to appeal to the masses. It was also the best-selling EV in 2019 not only in the U.S but worldwide, selling nearly 3 times more units than the second best.
Tesla does not spend money on advertisements; instead, it relies on product events, Elon Musk’s Twitter and word of mouth. Whether it is about Musk or the unusual design of the Tesla Cybertruck -some may call it ugly- people seem to have very strong opinions about anything Tesla; and they are not afraid to share them. The internet is overflowing with new articles about the company and Youtube is filled with videos from drivers reviewing their experience with a Tesla car explaining how great it is or the opposite. Most of the videos I have seen about the things that are wrong with the Model S, 3, X or Y are not deal breakers and the owners seem to be happy with the cars overall. Even after the shatterproof glass fiasco at the Cybertruck unveiling that caused Tesla’s value to briefly decline, Elon Musk shared on Twitter that there are 250,000 preorders for the truck. It seems like there really is no bad publicity for Tesla; or if there is, it is not hurting its sales.
Forbes, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, Electrek, Cnet, Clean Technica, Business Insider,
Featured image: Stefan Lehner on Unsplash