3 Mistakes Preventing Ice Vehicle Manufacturers from Catching TeslaAugust 16th, 2018
Have you ever played the game 52 pickup? It takes much less time to make a mess than it does to clean it up. I can’t begin to understand Tesla as a company from an accounting point of view, a legal point of view, or even engineering point of view.
I do feel comfortable looking at and reviewing Tesla from a marketing point of view and from a technology point of view. In particular, software.
With regards to marketing. The pre-orders for the Model 3 pretty much sum it up. Tesla is marketing basically for free through viral word of mouth by attempting to trigger everybody’s awe emotion. I make it sound so easy, but really it is extraordinarily difficult to pull something like that off.
But with everything said about Tesla, I can’t stress enough how big their lead is and potentially how much bigger it could be in terms of technology and software.
With software and technology, much like the game 52 pickup, it takes very little time to make a mess and much much longer to clean it up. Every design decision made regarding software and data is extremely important. Any wrong decision will likely triple the amount of work involved to implement the correct decision. What’s worse is that the longer you leave an inferior decision in place, the more of a mess it makes.
Allow me to illustrate. A simple data design situation arises of storing a user’s phone number. The optimum end result might be a user with an array of phone numbers each with a descriptive key:
User.phoneNumbers.cellPhone = …
User.phoneNumbers.homePhone = …
With such a structure, you can easily pull out and display a list of user’s phone numbers in a phone section on some interface. The good thing about this solution is that you can easily add something like
User.phoneNumbers.workPhone = …
But what if that decision wasn’t thought through as well. What if the data designer only used
User.phone = …
And then somebody realizes the need to store cell phones and home phones long after. So User.phone gets changed to User.cellPhone and User.homePhone. Whilst supporting the original solution of User.phone, some people entered the value as their cell phone. Other’s set it as their home phone. Now you have a bunch of phone numbers and you don’t know which ones are which and you have to get all your customers to re-enter their information to clean up the data.
It gets messy fast.
When it comes to Tesla vs. other Automotive dealerships and Technology, I see no greater advantage than Tesla for being able to start from the beginning and focus 100% on Electric Cars. With the exception of other “EV only” car companies like BYD, the large car manufacturers have gone in the wrong directions for a very long time. They are going to have a difficult time getting out of that situation.
As I mentioned before, when you release a mistake, the mistakes become a nightmare to fix and are a pain to support and transition from. Which raises my main point:
Toyota, GM, Ford, BMW, Mercedes and all other ICE vehicles have made mistakes which they now need to either transition away from or support and remain dependant on.
Here are three huge mistakes which will prevent these companies from gaining on Tesla’s head start:
- Internal Combustion Engines & Hybrid Vehicles
Dealerships were designed to receive customers and charge these customers professional rates to service their customer’s cars. Dealerships make more money on servicing the vehicles, than selling the actual cars. It is really in the car companies best interest to have customers return regularly for service. The reason this is a big mistake is best illustrated by looking at the opposite situations. What if cars didn’t need to go to dealerships for service? Imagine that. You buy a car and you never take it into service. How do you accomplish that? Well, first of all, no oil changes. Secondly, make brakes regenerative so that it reduces their wear. Thirdly (and really the nail in Dealerships coffin) Mobile Service. Service that will fix your car wherever it is. At work, at home, in a parking lot. Wherever. Instead of making a dealership that people have to take their car to and give money, sell them a car that if it ever needs fixing will be done conveniently without you having to go anywhere.
Internal Combustion Engines & Hybrid Parts/Components
Now that the other car companies have managed to sell many cars which will require regular oil changes, they have to support all of the engines, exhaust systems, and other ICE components. They will need to continue to manufacture those parts and support them. Adding hybrids into the equation means even more parts and knowledge that mechanics need to know to support these vehicles. Whenever you begin to develop a new product, you immediately look to previous technologies you have built which will allow you to take shortcuts and arrive at a new product sooner. When you approach the problem in this way, you end up inheriting ideas that are not optimal but rather “the way we always did it”. Designing a car from scratch rather than Frankensteining one together will ultimately force you to look at every single design decision and scrutinize over each solution. Being behind Tesla in terms of manufacturing EV’s will force other manufacturers to decide between cutting corners and getting things done faster and cheaper or taking the longer costlier approach and potentially losing market share. They are screwed either way. But in my opinion, much more screwed if they cut corners.
Although I am sure you could draw connections between auto manufacturers and the oil companies, you don’t see Ford Gas Stations. The vehicle manufacturers make the cars and the oil companies supply the gas. But what if instead of the fuel revenues flowing to the oil companies, it flowed directly to the auto manufacturer. There are big problems with gasoline as the choice for fuel. It is expensive. It contaminates. It takes time out of people’s day to fill up. You could say it is better than a Tesla Supercharger. However, the Tesla Superchargers make Tesla money directly. Their intention is to support traveling long distances. Otherwise, you are plugging your car in at night. To do that, you save money, don’t pollute, and you save time.
The car companies may be able to compete with Tesla or even have a leg up with regards to legal, accounting, logistics and other areas. But when it comes to technology, the mistakes these other car companies have made will prove to be ball and chains dragging along while attempting to catch Tesla’s swift lead.
I am TSLA long.
jsturgis August 16th, 2018ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Please excuse my lack of attention to spell checking and grammar. I was probably busy thinking about better variable names. I am a Model 3 owner and lover and TSLA long only ever looking to increase position as the exponential growth TSLA has seen has not caught up to current stock prices. Sending a dumb tweet is easy. Building a Gigafactory are not. (See what I mean about the grammar?) Place your bets accordingly.