Thursday, 4 March 2010

Tesla gets ready as electric cars go mainstream

The single-model display at the Geneva motor show by electric motoring pioneer Tesla is swamped this year by a seemingly endless string of rival sportscar companies launching electric vehicles of their own.

Whereas in the past the Tesla Roadster stood out as a breath of fresh air, and although it remains the only fully functional and street-legal electric car with others being trial models, it will soon be up against petrol-electric hybrids from Fisker and Lotus, Ferrari and Porsche.

"The world has been waiting for Porsche to show this," insists Porsche's chief executive Michael Macht as Porsche unveiled its plug-in petrol-electric hybrid at a Volkswagen Group event ahead of the motor show.
"Electric cars will be important for our customers; our models will have to be socially acceptable."

But whereas analysts fret about the threat, Tesla views the rivals' arrivals as good news.

Global Insight automotive analyst Aaron Bragman takes the view that Tesla is in danger of losing its "competitive advantage of being novel and unique".

By contrast, Cristiano Carlutti, head of Tesla's sales and operations in Europe, believes more electric cars from established brands will instead result in growth in the overall market for electric cars.

"Whoever does electrics is our friend," he says. "The fact that large firms enter the electric car market is an advantage for everyone.
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