Tesla’s electric vehicle technology is head and shoulders above the rest of the industry. Now, German car companies who are chasing after them are trying to figure out how the multi-year lead Tesla maintains over other automotive companies can be reduced. CEOs are becoming more vocal about the Elon Musk-headed company’s dominance in the electric vehicle sector.
Perhaps the most prominent relationship between Tesla and a German car company lies within Volkswagen’s executives. VW chairman Herbert Diess is an outspoken fan of Elon Musk and has admired the work the South African Tesla frontman has done to combat the spread of dangerous greenhouse gases.
Despite the respect that Volkswagen has for Tesla and Musk, the German car company has admitted that they trail by at ten years. However, Volkswagen executives believe they can catch up.
“Tesla is an impressive manufacturer,” Volkswagen’s electromobility board member Thomas Ulbrich said. “It is a motivator for us. Tesla has ten years more experience. But we are very quick in catching up.”
Volkswagen has combated software woes throughout the development of its ID.3 electric car. These delays have inevitably slowed down Volkswagen’s chase after Tesla, but the company continues to transition some of its German production plants toward electric vehicle manufacturing.
Audi is another German car company that has looked at Tesla as the leader in EV development. This company has focused on its e-Tron EV as its transitionary vehicle. Still, its CEO, Markus Duesmann, has stated that improving combustion engine vehicles will be the main focus moving forward. Electrification can come later.
Duesmann does believe the gas-powered engines that Audi manufactures can be improved and become more sustainable. “They have to be great,” he said. But ultimately, reducing emissions and increasing sustainability and eco-friendly transportation starts with ditching fossil fuels in general.
Duesmann also recently admitted that Tesla has a two year lead in critical areas of the industry, and said that the electric automaker is not ahead in terms of lithium-ion battery technology.
Nevertheless, Tesla’s fleet of EVs continues to improve, while Audi’s focus relies on extending the development of gas and diesel-powered machines.
Finally, BMW is ready to battle Tesla with its rendition, an all-electric 5-series sedan. The company plans to have around five million fully-electric vehicles on the road by 2030, which would mean half a million EVs sold per year.
BMW wants to take a chunk out of Tesla’s market, just like the other two automakers. But BMW’s 5-Series is one of its most popular cars. It sold 350,000 units in 2019, according to Barron’s, and the company believes it could be the key to catching up to Tesla within the next few years.
Tesla has a future in Germany that could end up being bad news for the domestic automakers who continue to set up shop in the European country. With Giga Berlin set to begin producing 500,000 vehicles annually starting July 2021, Tesla could dominate the German market for years to come. Especially considering Tesla’s intentions to manufacture a “completely new battery” at the German plant, automakers in the country must remain on notice.
Giga Berlin has been one of Elon Musk’s main points of focus since announcing the company’s plans to open a facility in November. The announcement and subsequent developments of the Berlin facility may have surged the German car giants to begin paying a little more attention to the next phase of the business.
All indications point toward sustainable and eco-friendly cars being the focus of consumers for years to come. Adapting to and developing these cars takes plenty of time, and while German companies are getting started, the saying “better late than never” comes to mind.