Legacy auto needs a ‘Tesla Approach’ on EVs because it’s quality, not quantity, that buyers want

(Photo: Tesla Photographer/Instagram)

Amidst the automotive segment’s ongoing shift to electric cars, it is almost common to see a carmaker announcing dozens of EVs coming in the coming years. Yet while such announcements are great for headlines, it appears that the time is nigh for legacy auto to shift to a “Tesla Approach” when it comes to their EV strategy. Carmakers can do this by focusing not on quantity, but on the quality of their electric cars. 

Quantity Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Quality

Just recently, South Korean automaker Hyundai announced that it will have 23 global electric vehicles by 2025. This announcement is impressive, and it echoes the same theme as American automaker General Motors’ plan, which calls for 30 EVs by 2025. Even premium carmakers like BMW and Daimler seem to be taking the same approach, with the former pledging nine EVs by 2025 and the latter working on six electric vehicles today. 

Yet inasmuch as these announcements warrant a lot of praise, it is pertinent to note that not all of the EVs coming out of legacy auto will necessarily be on the level of Tesla’s electric cars. Take GM’s best-selling electric car today, for example, the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, which is sold in China. The vehicle outsold the domestically-produced Model 3 in China several times this year, but it’s important to highlight that the Mini EV is a bare-bones electric car that doesn’t even have airbags installed

The Tesla Approach

Tesla’s approach to its electric cars is not unlike what tech giant Apple adopts. That is, the company releases only a few products, but each is extremely competitive in its respective segment. This could be seen in Tesla’s S3XY lineup, all of which could be described as premium electric vehicles in their own right. Critics could point out that the build quality and interior materials of Tesla’s electric cars are not yet in the level of veterans like Mercedes-Benz, but there’s no doubt that the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y are a cut above in terms of tech, performance, and features. 

Apart from releasing just a few good electric cars, Tesla also focuses heavily on software and vertical integration. Tesla’s vehicles are not the only ones that can receive over-the-air updates today, but they are arguably the ones that receive them most frequently. The vertical integration that Tesla applies to its operations is pretty insane as well, with the company now looking to produce its own batteries and hardware. 

One Good Electric Car

What seems to be lost among some legacy automakers today is the fact that the EV market is growing, and as it grows, it probably will not require dozens upon dozens of EVs being offered to customers. This is especially true if some of those electric cars are substandard or underwhelming at best. Instead, it may be a better idea for veteran carmakers to focus on creating only a few electric cars, with each one being good enough to stand against leaders like the Model S, or upstarts like the Lucid Air and the Rivian R1T. Even one good electric car will be better than dozens of uninspired EVs, after all. 

Fortunately, this concept seems to be making its way to some carmakers now, albeit slowly. Porsche does not seem to be in a hurry to release a bunch of EVs, with the company focusing on the Taycan, the Taycan Cross Turismo, and the Macan EV. Ford seems to be focusing right now on the Mach-E and the F-150 Electric. These vehicles so far are being received pretty well by the electric vehicle community, with the Taycan and the Mach-E even receiving a personal welcome from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. 

Legacy auto needs a ‘Tesla Approach’ on EVs because it’s quality, not quantity, that buyers want
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