It appears that Tesla, one of the pioneers of the EV (electric vehicle) revolution, is having a tough time. About a year ago, Tesla cars looked amazing set to revolutionize the global automobile industry.
Elon Musk, the mega serial entrepreneur and the CEO of $33 billion electric car company Tesla and the $20bn inter-galactic company SpaceX, was in the spotlight for his revolutionary products.#DeleteFacebook: Which brands and celebrities have quit the social media giant?
And who’s next? But then, suddenly, things started to change that few, including Musk, ever saw coming: a rough ride to the future, or so it seems.
In the end week of March this year, in California, a Tesla Model X — the latest model — crashed and burned and the driver was killed. Tesla said the car had its Autopilot system engaged when the crash occurred.
Another incident happened in the same week that raised eyebrows — Tesla’s largest-ever vehicle recall over a potential steering fault. The US EV carmaker recalled about 123,000 Model S sedans worldwide, asking customers with cars built before April of 2016 to have their power steering bolts replaced, according to media reports.
The Model S has been lauded for its safety ratings, but news of this recall comes at a rough time for Tesla, reported CNN.
Yesterday (May 30), again, a Tesla car crashed into a parked police car in California.
“The crash has similarities to other incidents, including a fatal crash in Florida where the driver’s “over-reliance on vehicle automation” was determined as a probable cause,” according to a report by BBC.
Niche to mass-market?
These incidents come at a critical moment for the company.
“Tesla raised considerable excitement with its mass-market Model 3 electric vehicle but has kept customers waiting with a backlog. Will fans stick with the company?,” asks a report by Knowledge@Wharton.
Also, much is needed to resolve the question of whether Tesla can make the jump from being a niche novelty to a mass-market car company.
“The idea that mastering high-volume mass production of a mass-market vehicle is the next big test for Tesla is widely held. Musk encouraged this by saying it was the company’s goal from the start. And this is something they seem to be failing at the moment,” says MacDuffie, who is also director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
“This company is in so much turmoil, and it finally seems to have taken Elon Musk and spun him to the point where he acted, I can only say, bizarrely during that recent call,” said Paul A. Eisenstein, publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com, as published in the Knowledge@Wharton report.
Tesla can’t afford to waste any time. Interest in electric cars is on the upswing. One in five Americans is interested in purchasing an EV in the future, according to a recent AAA survey, a higher percentage than in any previous survey, it added.