A Tesla executive criticized competitors on Tuesday for offering electric cars that are “little more than appliances” during an annual automotive conference.
Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business development, said automaker offerings are missing the mark on pricing, range, and performance. This happened while O’Connell and other auto industry executives, along with government regulators, debated how best to meet federal guidelines and California regulations on fuel economy and vehicle emissions.
“The industry’s attempts to date to advance the state of electric vehicle technology, they’re probably really not even trying,” O’Connell said. O’Connell spoke at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich.
Other seminar speakers included heads of auto industry groups Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers, and officials from government agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. Stakeholders have 60 days to comment on the midterm evaluation report on federal mpg and CO2 standards for 2022-2025, but on Monday the alliance, which represents 12 major automakers, called for a 60-day extension of the comment period.
Christopher Grundler, director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality for the EPA, said the agency would consider the alliance’s request for an extension of the comment period. Grundler stressed the importance of looking not just to the 2025 timeline, but that a collaborative solution is needed to achieve even larger carbon dioxide reductions by 2050.
O’Connell is frequently cited for making challenging comments to automakers and dealers on Tesla’s right to open retail locations in states, and on how the Tesla brand is being perceived. At last year’s Management Briefing Seminars, he asked critics to stop labeling Tesla an elite brand as the carmaker prepared to roll out the more affordable Model 3.
“We have a business plan that we’ve been working on from the beginning, and it’s more than what we are today,” O’Connell said a year ago.
His comment that competitors are building electric cars that are “little more than appliances” may sound familiar to those following what’s being said by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He’s deflected criticisms made after the fatal Autopilot crash, the merger of Tesla with SolarCity, and the changing image of the luxury carmaker rolling out the more affordable Model 3. Musk has been defending the price of the company’s electric cars.
“Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible,” Musk said about three years ago.