Tesla Motors is all the rage in the auto community, investment community, and even the broad tech community. Top automakers respond in different ways. Some try to act like it's no big deal. Some study it and try to learn some lessons. And some are even inspired to design their own electric car models.
For example, Bob Lutz, the former well known executive of GM, when he found out about the Tesla Roadster, got his team to build the Chevy Volt. He said that GM's experts had previously told him a quality electric car wasn't a possibility. When the Roadster was unveiled, he basically told them, "Hey, this little Silicon Valley startups is doing it! Why can't we do it?"
The Volt is a great car that has won its share of awards, but it's in a completely different class and category than Tesla's first two models. Nothing has yet come close to the Tesla Model S or the Tesla Roadster. Still, no one likes to say that they've been "beat."
The CEO, founder, president, and chairman of Warren Buffett-backed BYD has previously stated that BYD could build something like the Model S, but that it's essentially just a "rich man's toy." (There's a lot to argue with there, but I'll just move on.)
Much more recently, the CEO of Ford, Mark Fields, told USA TODAY that Ford too could build a Tesla. As USA TODAY's James R. Healey summarized it, "Ford CEO Mark Fields says the company has the expertise and ability to build a Tesla-style full-size, high-tech, high-performance, long-range electric vehicle." It would be great to see Ford make the attempt, but honestly, saying that you can build a car that can match the best mass-manufactured car in history, and actually doing so, are two very different things. In fact, no other company has even tried to do so yet.
The creator of many highly coveted high-class cars, Porsche, may be the first to make a serious attempt at it. The company is reportedly working on an all-electric version of a forthcoming model called the Pajun that will pack the same power and have the same range as a Tesla Model S. Given that the Model S is now the quickest sedan ever built, that's quite a challenge, but certainly a possibility. Will the all-electric Pajun also be able to seat 7? That seems unlikely, as it will reportedly be shorter and lighter than the Model S.
"Powering the Pajun will be a cutting-edge synchronous electric motor every bit as powerful as the motor(s) in the Model S, and a new battery developed in conjunction with corporate partner Audi could give it a driving range of 250 miles per charge or more," GAS2 writes.
Audi will be using the same battery in its highly anticipated R8 e-tron, a vehicle that may compete with the upcoming Tesla Model X. LG Chem is the battery manufacturer the car companies will be partnering with. No actual renderings of the Pajun have been revealed, and the car doesn't have a set release date (it's just supposed to hit the market sometime within the next couple of years), but the rumor is that it's taking design cues from the 2012 Panamera Sport Turismo concept, pictured above and below.
We'll see how this turns out, but it's hard to see anyone catching up with Tesla.