Op-ed: Tesla is now the hunted

Sean Carson thinks Tesla can’t afford to rest on its laurels at the top of the electric car tree with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes all ready to launch new bespoke EVs.

It already seems as if Tesla has been around for ages, but in motor industry terms the brand has pretty much emerged overnight. Perhaps more quickly than anyone before it, the US company has moved from a curio-outsider to cutting edge.

You can read whether or not its Model 3 stays right at the top of its class when we tested it against Polestar 2 here. This showdown has prompted an interesting point: where will Tesla’s challenge come from in the future?

Polestar is one of the most credible brands to take Tesla on at its own game. But with the bigger, now-updated Model S, the likes of Audi and Mercedes have been left scrambling in Tesla’s wake.

Of course, these ‘legacy’ manufacturers are successful for a reason, and we know Audi, Mercedes and BMW all have bespoke EVs, underpinned by sophisticated engineering, waiting in the wings to launch. But initial details show that this crop of cars will only match what Tesla is doing, rather than pushing beyond it.

Tesla’s V3 Supercharging tech can charge at up to 250kW, adding a claimed 120km of range in just five minutes. Porsche offers similar with its Taycan, but at a price point way above cars like the Model 3.

As a new brand, then, Polestar has the right cards in its hand; it just needs to play them in the right order. It has the chance to innovate and carve itself out as a leader, but with close links to Volvo, it can also lean on a company that gets traditional ‘car things’ right. There’s certainly potential for it to be a key rival for Tesla as the industry evolves yet another step in the years ahead.

No doubt just as others are working furtively to develop the best zero-emission cars, Tesla won’t be resting on its laurels. But its time as the disruptor is over. Now it needs to continue to innovate, improve and scale up to see off fresh rivals – including, almost certainly, tech companies who are just as green to the car industry as Tesla itself was a few years ago.

Sean Carson

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