Elon Musk gives his opinion of the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF (video)

Elon Musk driving Tesla Model S
Screen capture Bloomberg

Here's the video. There's an intro about something else, but it soon becomes about Musk's take on the competition:

On paper it seems like Musk is bad-mouthing competitors, but after seeing countless interviews with him, I think it's just that he's being honest and there's no malice involved. I don't think he would hold back if a competitor made an electric vehicle that made him go "wow".

In fact, he's said often that the whole reason he got involved with Tesla was to catalyze the industry and encourage others to transition to EVs faster than they would otherwise. It's not like he wants all the market for himself, he knows he needs all automakers to work this huge problem - making transportation sustainable - to make progress.

His criticism also makes sense in the context of Musk's personality. He has very high standards, a bit like the late Steve Jobs. Apple wasn't the first company to make portable digital music players, smartphones, or tablet computers, but Jobs was obsessed with making the best product possible in those categories. Similarly, Musk doesn't just want to make a pretty good electric car, he wants it to be the best possible that you can buy for the money. Best performance, best technology, best styling, best safety, best ergonomics, best future-proofing, best service, best store experience, etc. You can bet that when Tesla makes its cheaper, third EV platform, it won't just be a run-of-the-mill vehicle in the $30k range. They'll do everything they can to make it the very best. And when you look at the Volt and LEAF, while they do a very competent job and many owners love them, they aren't exactly playing on that Apple-like level, so Musk's criticism is fair.

The beauty is that having a tough competitor like Tesla forces everybody else to improve their game, and we all benefit. Tesla has big plans to ramp up production and drop prices, but even if they forever stayed a niche player, their influence on the whole industry would be huge, in the same way that Apple's market share has never been huge, but they still lead.


See also: Tesla Model S gets highest safety score of any car ever tested by NHTSA (5.4 stars)

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