Tesla fanboys will have my head for this statement, but I’ve always felt that Teslas remain a work-in-progress.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I fully comprehend that I’m a mildly evolved ape who loves burning fossil fuels for forward-propulsion, while Elon Musk – one of the richest men in the world – is a genius who’s working towards making humans a multi-planetary race. Sometimes when he talks, it actually makes my brain hurt. So, by no means, do I intend to belittle what he’s achieved.
After all, Tesla’s made EVs sexy, desirable, and ‘ludicrously’ fast. He’s also awoken the automotive establishment from their slumber and ensured that they bring their A-game to the party. But now that they have, where does that leave Tesla?
Admittedly, I’m an internal combustion fan, so it takes a pretty special EV to impress me – and, while I’ve never experienced the full-throttle acceleration of a Plaid Model S, the lesser models never really impressed me. Perhaps that’s because when I saw a Model S for the first time it was on the showroom floor, and the things that made an initial impression were the uneven panel gaps and a solidified droplet of paint hanging off the edge of the boot lid. Now, an oversight like that would consign any automaker to a life term in quality control jail.
By contrast, take a car like the BMW i4 that was launched in India in the last week of May. The i4 demonstrates what an engineering-focused heavyweight like BMW can do when it enters the EV party. Now BMW may be too entrenched in the establishment to reinvent the wheel, but what it also means is that they’ve got engineering excellence running through their veins – there’s an institutional memory and engineering integrity that you simply can’t deny. And that’s to say nothing of driving dynamics, honed over perilous motorsport battles on racetracks around the world over many decades.
Of course, not being part of the establishment means that you can cut out those pesky middlemen – dealers. You can shoot over-the-air updates, for which owners don’t even have to leave their driveways, and you can give people autonomous capabilities that traditional automakers wouldn’t even dream of putting in the hands of people. Well, in this case, taking people’s hands off the steering wheel and putting their fate in the hands of AI. Admittedly that’s risky indeed, but it also means that the shared self-learning algorithm gets better with each passing mile.
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This is one of those debates that is unlikely to be settled over the length of a page. The point I’m trying to make, then, is that we needn’t feel too deprived that Tesla isn’t making its way to our shores anytime soon – the likes of the BMW i4 and Kia EV6, both of which were launched this past month, mean that we’re very much getting the best EVs that the automotive industry currently has to offer. So, while the Tesla fanboys have every reason to feel short-changed, I wouldn’t sweat it too much – because the auto industry may be late to the party, but their A-game was worth the wait.