It all started in the late 19th century when a young man by the name of Nikola Tesla began to work for Thomas Edison. It was this duo that sparked a war of currents that has lasted through to this day. Electricity was the revolutionary technology of the 1800s, and Tesla was the man fighting the entrenched Edison and his direct current. It has been 70 years since the death of Tesla and now this story of power, technology, and challenging status quo has been reborn into the automotive industry.
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Tesla Motors began as a company with an intention to utilize battery technology and electric propulsion in their production vehicles but has quickly become the underdog that polarizes the public. With overblown fires hurting Tesla’s image, a deep rooted tradition of internal combustion in the industry and a nose dive in oil prices, the company’s future is still very much in doubt. There is one significant card left up Tesla’s sleeve, however, and its name is New Models. The key to success for this company is in its original plans to mass produce affordable and likable cars that happen to be electric. With this card comes a dangerous risk as well.
Now, if Toyota produces a car that doesn’t sell well or even for a profit (ahem, Lexus LFA) it really doesn’t matter. The company runs the car anyway, tries to re-brand it, changes the style or the power train, and can eventually give up; they have billions of dollars to spare.
If a relatively new brand produces a retail flop, the stakes are much higher. With the Tesla Model X being released soon, Tesla fans wait with bated breath as the established car companies lick their respective chops. If this car isn’t a sales success, which Bob Lutz, a trusted man of the industry, hinted that it might not be in his piece for Road and Track “Is Tesla Doomed?”, it could seriously hinder the company’s ability to continue to operate. Signs of this uneasiness have begun to show with the company’s trade value. According to marketwatch.com, Tesla shares have dipped 32 percent in the past three months.
There is little room for error here, Tesla, and there are a lot of people watching.