How did a tiny start-up beat Detroit, Germany & Japan to a usable EV?

It is amazing how far Tesla has moved the yardstick on electric vehicles. What I find curious is how the world's existing manufacturers couldn't generate anywhere near the range that Tesla gets out of it's battery packs. Especially since they are using laptop batteries that are already mass produced. As I understand it, all Tesla did was find the most efficient way to configure them and then manage the temperature and environment of the batteries within the pack. I'm sure there are a few other aspects that differentiate Tesla's battery pack but it's not like they created some new type of battery. They just figured out how to get the most out of them. And they had a fraction of the r/d staff and $ to figure it out compared to the existing manufacturers.

That being said, will the other manufacturers be able to replicate the Tesla's range within a few years? I hope not, I'd like to see Tesla stay on the cutting edge.

Oops, my bad. Actually there are other reasons why the model S is taking off - the 17" touchscreen, great styling, cabin and cargo space, etc.

@Alex K

Hahaha!! I had forgotten about those. Remember the NIMH EV-1's? they were pushing the 140 mile per charge envelope as well in the late 90's ... Fast forward to 2011 and we have a 75 mile plus or minus per charge Ford Focus and a Leaf that is about the same. ho hum :-(

To Teslas credit they are trying to mass market BEV's It should be mentioned that they are not the first to try, but they have the best mousetrap to date in the S

The failure will be if Gen III Tesla Model ? is affordable but offers no more range performance than the 75-100 mile Leafs and Focuses of today that seem to be about all you can achieve as a manufacturer if keeping with a price point that is attainable to the people working on the assembly line to build it.

BEV's will not really take off until there is a no compromise 300 - 400+ mile range BEV that costs approx $25k that does not require you to install an eleventy thousand dollar charging station "that only works with that brand car" at home to make the car useful. The charging hardware MUST be on board the car enabling folks to use their existing electric sources 240V outlets etc. at home to charge the thing.

I know ... Dream on lol!!

Interesting; the Altra had permanent magnet motor, and choice of CVT or 4-speed automatic, and a range about the same as the 40 kWh MS. Only 200 were ever made, though.

@shop great post!

My wife, who is a better business thinker than I am, answered the question from a different tack. The reason the big experienced car companies couldn't come up with something like a Tesla is entirely because they are big and experienced. Over the years they have developed fiefdoms, and any project would have to get buy in and overcome resistance from many entrenched internal interests. Throw in a union shop on top of it, and there is no way the big car companies could design something like a Tesla. There is a reason why big companies often have skunk works which are essentially an internal project completely cut off from the main organization.


I agree entirely. I work in government and watch both young, ambitious people and their interesting (often valid) projects get shot down due to bureaucracy, cronyism and the insitutionalisation of processes. The gears of large companies move slowly and as such they are often slow to embrace new ideas.

There is also a certain amount of pride that develops in entrenched companies. It is sometimes referred to as "not invented here syndrome". For example companies known for their prowess in designing high performance, finessed ICEs were probably wondering how relevant they were in a BEV world. Some within these same organizations may have chosen the easier path and simply written off BEVs until recently.

For the most part though I'm tempted to say most large car companies probably canvassed their usual focus groups and found many buyers weren't as interested in BEVs as they were high-efficiency ICE vehicles. This is evidenced by the fact that most car companies are currently leveraging their ICE experience to produce higher efficiency ICEs. Such vehicles are affordable to most buyers and therefore the all-important stockholders continue to be pleased and the upper mgmt continue to be employed.

Speaking of which, a relevant quote goes something like this, "No one ever got fired for buying Intel." In other words no one ever got fired for choosing a safe bet. (ICE cars.) Conversely the folks at Nissan (as an example) got tired of Mark Perry's attempts to make the Leaf a viable car... and many suspect he was asked to leave: (to leaf?)

In short there are probably many reasons why Tesla is a pioneer in the BEV market.

The majority stockholders in the largest car companies are banks.
The Rothchilds (one of the owners of the US Federal Reserve) owns 600 Banks.
The hybrid cars are limp-wristed efforts to offer "solutions" to Oil Dependency- which is worth Big Money.

The technique is to show meager gains, while suppressing the truly innovative and remarkable platforms that could ruin the Gas/Oil Model.

Read the book (or watch the movie) "The Formula". pretty revealing.

Keep the peasants happy, show ideas but no follow-through, and keep racking in the chips. The reason Solar Power has not REALLY taken off is because methods have to be created to control the usage of something that is inherintely free: The Sun.

The reason Elon Musk created Solar City is because of his true genius towards his larger vision of "linking" the needs of his three companies together. If he needs "losses" in one company to offset the "gains" in others, the idea works. He needs to build Supercharging Stations. Who is better to supply the componentries of those stations than a sister company? If introductions of technology to Tesal are hindered by "outsiders", he can switch gears towards SpaceX applications to prove their value, etc.

Until someone who is wealthy enough, influential enough, and innovative enough comes along, the methods used to enslave the masses will continue. Banks, Oil, Water, Food, etc. I'm an Elon Musk Fan as long as he doesn't sell out. The day he announces a deal to dilute the value or effectiveness of Tesla, is the day I sell. But if he retains his committments, and doesn't take money from the wrong group, he will survive. Beware of big companies buying big quantities of Tesla Stock.

The reason no one else has done it, is because they didn't want to. Check out Dean Kamen's new introduction of the Stirling Engine for his Water Purification system. My guess? It will never become mainstream. Why? 1) Because Dean flys helicopters, 2) The guy who bought Segway died in an accident where he and his Segway just "accidentally" flew off a cliff. 3) Someone will whisper in his ear something, and one way or another, it will be supressed.
Stan Meyers is another example. I consider Elon Musk to be an All American Hero. And we need more just like him. But I always worry about the bad guys. It appears he has built his businesses well, where he has surrounded himself with individuals as smart, or smarter than himself. This is the key. This is why I think Mr. Musk is changing our world right now, and I am very proud to buy his products. In addition to his Model S, I want to see that pickup truck. The model X somehow is missing the mark between the sketches and the final prototype. Sketches are cool, prototype is uh...well...
But the Model S is going to be a TRUE COLLECTOR CAR. As innovations occur, upgrades will occur. By the 8th year of that battery warranty, there will be new solutions, and at a lower cost. But the Model S is going to be the gateway to the future of individual transportation. No way I'm missing out on buying this car.

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