My Car Quest

July 7, 2022

Editorial: Marketing – Does Lack of Models Hurt Tesla?

by Wallace Wyss –

At first I puzzled why does Tesla, the world’s most successful electric car brand, have so few models? And all the production ones look sorta/kinda the same.

Oh, they’ve showed various prototypes like for the pickup truck and the roadster and the Semi tractor trailer but all those are still pie-in-the-sky dream cars, promised year after year but there’s no factory capacity for them since all the sedans are so back ordered.

To answer my question, I think when VW and Nissan and Stellantis get up to speed on hundreds of thousands of EVs a year, Tesla will start to read comparisons where people who bought the new cars from other brands said they got tired of waiting for Tesla to have new styling.

But I think the Tesla buyers are more in it for the whole electronic package–what the car can do for them, rather than buying it based on styling. In other words when you buy a home computer aren’t you looking for its capacity and normally styling is of no consequence?

Plus there are subtle little differences in Tesla models, almost unnoticed by the general public so they are offering different models within models like the Model S Plaid.

Franz von Holzhausen Tesla

And now that there are shops modifying them, customizing them, there will be more paths for owners to go down to make their cars “their own” design statement.

I think the holding out of a hope for a $25,000 Tesla (nicknamed Model 2) is marketing ignorance. Why would he want to sacrifice space needed to make more Model Y cars to make a car that’s a lot cheaper skimpier on what it can offer? Elon Musk is in business to make money and making a car that will sell for a break-even price is not something that interests him.

Let the Chinese automakers like BYD fulfill that demand in America, if the domestic automakers can’t get their act together.

I do think he should get the pickup truck and roadster at least in production, even if it’s only a few hundred a month so as not to have those designs get old before their time.

So overall, there’s been a method in Elon Musk’s madness–make what is selling, save the fancy stuff for when sedan sales start to fall. The only trouble is even the sedans are back ordered in every country he’s got a plant. Overall it sure ain’t the way Detroit automakers have worked, some have hundreds of models under one brand, not just four.

But look at the net worth of Tesla compared to Ford, or GM or Stellantiss. Elon must be doing something right…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, who has guest-lectured on design at Art Center College of Design, delivers commentary on new cars on Autotalk, a show broadcast weekly from KUCR FM radio Riverside.

 

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Editorial: Marketing -  Does Lack of Models Hurt Tesla?
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Editorial: Marketing - Does Lack of Models Hurt Tesla?
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There's been a method in Tesla's madness--make what is selling, save the fancy stuff for when sedan sales start to fall.
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Comments

  1. David Dolter says

    Buyers may be more design aware than we give them credit for, especially brand buyers. The Tesla designs were excellent but they haven’t changed. Audi, Mercedes, BMW, etc will severely erode Tesla market share with new, better designs. Many buyers, particularly older ones, want less but better technology.

  2. I heard that Tesla is not introducing any new models this year.

  3. Colorado Kid says

    When I read criticisms that Tesla is not changing their designs often enough, I recall the almost annual model changes of mid-century Detroit. What happened to those?

    The modern car and especially the EV is a computer on wheels. Changes take place internally and out of sight, but greatly affect the operation of the machine. The styling and creature comforts will also be changed as needed. Like a PC, or if you will like the Beetle.

    Traditional advertising is not needed when you have a CEO like Musk, who gets gets free publicity for almost anything he does. It seems to be working fine for him that he does not fit the traditional mold that Madison Ave. or Wall St. demand. Musk and Tesla are on their own plane and have left the others stuck.

    BTW if Tesla does not produce new models, what’s with the Robotaxi announced at the Giga Texas event? FSD and EV go hand in hand and are exactly what many older customers (who otherwise wouldn’t be driving any more), as well as younger ones (who are not interested in conventional car driving), are looking for. Either in private vehicles or shared ones.

  4. wallace wyss says

    FSD iis not a new model. It is an oprion you can order in some Teslas now. But ironically it has not been approved by the US government for stage 5 (no human driver) so what Tesla sells as FSD offers less than FSD until those laws are changed. I think the last price I heard was $12000. Robotaxis referred to by Elon Musk describes what will happen when FSD is approved. You can own a Tesla with FSD and, while you are at work or school, rent your car out to those who summon it. At the end of the day, you go out and greet your car and count up how much money it made for the day. Basically it’s the Air B &B model applied to cars.

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