2018-12-03
Who Will Lead On Electric Pickups, Electric Crossovers, Electric Semi Trucks, & Solar Roofs?

There’s a lot of excitement in the electric vehicle world these days. Tesla has come along and shown that you can produce a mass-market electric car that ranks #1 in its class (by far) and even ranks in the top 5 of all car models. This has created excitement about new frontiers — electric crossovers, electric pickup trucks, electric semi trucks, etc.

There are a handful of electric startups that we’re cautiously excited about — or at least interested in — and we’re eager to hear more details about electric models some large automakers have hinted at or even shown and revealed names for.

But let’s be honest: there’s one automaker that offers the most promise when it comes to electric pickups, electric crossovers, and electric semi trucks.

Yes, we’ll have models in each class from a variety of automakers, and the industry needs variety. Yes, differing features, pricing, and styling are still important in all of these classes. But the Tesla Model 3 is clearly electric car champion even though tens of thousands of consumers find it more sensible to buy a Nissan LEAF, Chevy Bolt, BMW i3, Fiat 500e, Toyota Prius Prime, Kia Soul EV, Hyundai Ioniq EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, etc.

Yes, trucks are not cars, crossovers are not cars, and semi trucks are not cars. That said, it’s the underlying battery leadership, electric powertrain leadership, software leadership, superb styling, and overall company reputation that made the Model 3 into the tremendous success story it has become. All of those strengths can be carried over into the other classes. Unfortunately, what’s important is that I don’t see any other company that competes with Tesla on any of these matters, let alone all of them.

Batteries: Who can compete with Tesla + Panasonic on batteries? Seriously. I go around the world giving presentations on electric vehicles, interviewing experts who know much more than me about them, and moderating panel discussions with industry leaders, and I’m yet to find someone who even tries to convince me that some other company is leading on batteries. LG Chem, CATL, Samsung SDI, SK Innovation, and others are making progress. They are following strong industry trends regarding cost, chemistry, performance, and production capacity, but they’re all a slide below Tesla + Panasonic from what I can tell.

Powertrain: It’s not just the batteries. Tesla has innovated when it comes to motors, fuses, inverters, etc. Something often mentioned in passing but not given much thought or discussion is how relevant Tesla’s extensive vertical integration is to its success. The company designs the components of its electric beasts to fit together smoothly, elegantly, and powerfully. Where possible, Tesla buys cheap off-the-shelf products, but where needed in order to meet certain product objectives in the still nascent EV industry, Tesla in-houses the work and develops something worlds better than what can be found on the market. The whole package is what matters, and it seems that Tesla puts it together better than anyone else — by a lap or two. Granted, this seems to be an area where the likes of Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, and others might be gaining ground, but I’m yet to see any evidence of someone doing it better than Tesla.

We’ll see what the likes of Rivian, Lucid Motors, NIO, and other newbies can do. They have great people on their executive teams, have years of combined experience, and appear to be making good progress. But getting off the ground is no easy task — ask Elon — and the market is much more competitive than it was 10 years ago. Getting production to 100,000 vehicles per year would be a solid marker for any of them that I think would make their goals more warranted in the discussion, but all of them are a ways off from such a milestone.

Source- Clean Technica