At the ongoing international auto show in Frankfurt, Germany, Tesla Motors is displaying its Model S confident that it can carve out a healthy place for itself within the entrenched marketplace.
Germany is a bastion for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and other brands, but in a new take on the old folk song refrain, California here I come, Tesla is beginning there, and intent on planting a flag in Europe having opened stores in Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Munich with plans pending for Berlin and Stuttgart.
Munich is home to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Stuttgart is home to Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG but Tesla is marching right in.
“The European home turf belongs to the likes of Daimler, BMW and Audi,” said Bryan Batista, Tesla’s European sales director to Bloomberg. “We’re confident that we have a product that stacks up very well.”
Working in its favor is Tesla doesn’t just offer zero emissions, it has zero baggage that other America automakers do after decades of hit or miss efforts.
And Tesla’s clean car comes with off-the-charts techno appeal as the company paints itself as one with only the noblest of intentions – and so far, it is proving itself essentially true, and receiving benefit of the doubt as well.
Tesla also happens to be bolder with all-electric sedans that in many ways defy the myths about EVs that keep some automakers on the sidelines, and others hedging their bets with plug-in hybrids.
Or, in the case of Mercedes all-electric AMG SLS gullwing, it costs five times what a packed model S does, so who is this for? It’s certainly not to be a volume seller, whereas Tesla is attempting to continue its momentum.
In the U.S. despite its price point being two-to three-times the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, Tesla has managed competitive sales volume all this year.
Thus far in Europe, beyond would-be buyers, even established automakers are giving measures of high praise.
Daimler is financially invested with a 4-percent interest in Tesla and its CEO has boasted of Tesla’s batteries and motors for its electric B-Class.
“We like to call it Tesla inside – like Intel inside – because Tesla now is quite cool,” Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said yesterday to Bloomberg at the Frankfurt show. “We’re very happy that they are successful.”
Similarly, Volkswagen’s chief praised Tesla after the company bought three Model S sedans and VW’s engineers evaluated their axle positioning and battery-management systems and other features.
The car is “made intelligently,” said VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn and the EVs should be respected “especially considering that they don’t have vast experience in building cars.”
With a clean slate, and playing its cards deftly, Tesla’s Batista says what could be seen as a weakness – its newcomer status – is proving to be a strength to be exploited.
With the established automakers, “there’s been a reluctance to change, to leave internal combustion engine technology, which has been and still is the bread and butter of these companies,” said Batista. “We don’t have that legacy.”