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Next up: Tesla vs the world

Tesla's reign as the king of electric car makers could be in jeopardy.Traditional automakers are plan...

Posted: Nov 13, 2018 11:04 PM
Updated: Nov 13, 2018 11:04 PM

Tesla's reign as the king of electric car makers could be in jeopardy.

Traditional automakers are planning big pushes into electric vehicle production, none more so than Volkswagen.

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At first blush it may not seem like Tesla could lose its dominance.

It has sold nearly 500,000 cars worldwide, which accounts for about 20% of all the battery-only electric vehicles on the road today, according to an estimate from Navigant Research.

The company is finally turning a profit and meeting its production goals.

At 250,000 units in the United States, Tesla has about double the amount of Nissan Leafs, the No. 2 electric car in America. Nissan has sold more than 125,000 Leafs since its late 2010 debut GM's all-electric offering, the Chevy Bolt, has only sold about 36,000 cars since it debuted in 2016.

Volkswagen has a plan to dwarf those numbers.

CEO Herbert Diess recently told Automotive News that VW intends to build and sell 50 million all-electric vehicles in coming years.

He said VW will be able to price its cars less than comparable Teslas by taking advantage of economies of scale.

Diess did not give a time frame and it will obviously will take years, if not decades, to reach that goal.

Volkswagen sold 10.7 million vehicles last year, almost all of them gas or diesel powered.

But VW has already announced plans to roll out a wide selection of all-electric cars. The Volkswagen I.D. line is set to debut in 2020. The Audi E-Tron should hit US showrooms in the spring. Other Volkswagen brands, including Porsche, are planning their own electric models as well.

Others are pushing hard, too.

Ford has committed to spend $11 billion to refocus the company on new products such as self-driving and electric vehicles. GM is gearing up its plans as well.

Tesla said it's not worried about the increased competition because it will help its overall goal of transitioning cars globally from gas and diesel to electric.

"Every compelling electric vehicle on the road is a win for Tesla," a company spokesman said.

By 2026, Navigant expects more than 30 million battery-only electric vehicles to be on the road worldwide, compared with about 2.6 million today. That's far too much production for Tesla to handle.

Half of those vehicles are expected to be sold in the Asia-Pacific region, mostly in China, where Tesla is just now starting plans for its first Asian factory.

Sam Abuelsamid, a transportation analyst with Navigant, said he expects Tesla's foothold in the market and its reputation among electric car buyers should help it weather the flood of new competition from established automakers.

But he said the Volkswagens and General Motors of the world come with size and long track records of building cars.

"One area where they have a bit of an advantage is the ability to work with their supply chain to get high quality components, and a supply of raw materials such as lithium and cobalt," he said. "They ... already have factories in place around the world."

The deep pockets of established automakers also gives them an advantage.

For much of 2018, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had to fend off worries about an imminent cash crunch. Those concerns seem to have been allayed after the company finally hit production targets for its Model 3 sedan in October. He says the company's newfound profitability will allow it to meet its debt obligations.

But it's clear that the far larger and richer established automakers have resources that Tesla can't touch.

"The other companies have a significant amount of cash reserves to protect them. And they have other products and a wider portfolio," said Abhay Vadhavkar, director of manufacturing, engineering and technology for the Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank.

In the end, the biggest barrier to the established automakers making a major push into electric vehicles could be that they might not be as profitable for the automakers' dealers, Abuelsamid said.

"Most dealers make little or no profit on selling new cars. They make most of profit on used car sales and warranty service," he said. The presumption among dealers is the electric vehicles won't require as much service," he said.

With advances being made in electric cars, most buyers won't want a used one.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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