The Tesla Model 3’s success in the European market shocked the region’s biggest automakers, including Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. This was despite successful car manufacturers practically writing off Tesla because of its cash flow, production inexperience, and negative outlooks from several hedge funds.
As it turned out, the problem with dismissing Tesla as “the next big thing” is because the Silicon Valley-bred company, through its innovative and unique vehicles, has truly become the hottest company in the car industry. The Model 3 is a big part of that because of its affordability, dispelling the idea that electric cars with sufficient range and high performance are not mainstream cars.
The Model 3’s popularity in Europe was proven after a successful 2019. In December only the Volkswagen Golf and Renault Clio had higher sales figures. This is according to JATO Dynamics, a company that performs market research.
But the popularity of the Model 3 means something other than electric cars is becoming more appealing to consumers. It means automakers that have had success with petrol-powered models, like Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz, may be missing out on a huge opportunity to transition their offerings towards sustainability.
Europe’s biggest luxury carmakers waited long to begin developing cars that could compete with Tesla, and now the companies are lagging behind. The Model 3 already competes with best-selling petrol-powered premium sedans like the Mercedes C-Class or BMW 3 Series in price, despite being far more tech-focused.
Granted, European carmakers have started their own electric car programs. Both Volkswagen and Mercedes are beginning to build electric cars, but they only began developing EVs after Tesla proved that electric cars can be successful and popular among buyers. This leaves them several years behind Tesla, which holds a sizable lead over other carmakers in range, performance, and affordability.
In addition to being years behind in terms of hardware and software, Volkswagen and Mercedes are making electric versions of cars that they have been building for years. This disqualifies the vehicles from being potential “game-changers,” according to JATO Dynamics analyst Felipe Munoz in a statement to The New York Times. Tesla’s vehicle designs, on the other hand, are fresh and unique, and Munoz believes this could be one of the reasons the company is doing so well.
The uniqueness Tesla is bringing to the table is precisely the way it will continue to disrupt the European auto market. Its cars offer a new and exciting way to travel, and Munoz says the way Tesla was going to beat traditional automakers was by being different than them. “It’s not only about the car itself. It’s also the way they are selling these cars,” Munoz states.