Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is looking weak and its smaller, nimbler rivals are taking the opportunity to make some noise. Amidst the chaos of back-to-back Model S crashes, (one of the crashes was fatal) Elon Musk currently has a lot on his plate right now. The NTHSA, NTSB, and SEC are investigating the firm in the US and Germany’s KBA has said it won’t allow Autopilot on German roads. The firm also got into a messy war of words with Fortune and it is likely that the media hype that brought Tesla to limelight could be used to hurt the firm.
The chaos seems to be taking a toll on CEO Elon Musk’s concentration and he doesn’t seem primed for dealing with Tesla’s mess right now.
Jalopnik reports that “Elon was supposed to come out with his master plan revealing Tesla’s upcoming product strategy last week. Instead he played with some rockets or something that look really cool and are supposed to go to Mars at some point.” On Sunday, he tweeted that “Have to focus on tonight’s @SpaceX launch. Will post Tesla (master) product plan afterwards.” On Monday, he posted another tweet saying “Bit of a distraction yesterday. Working on plan today” but the plan is not complete as at 5AM this morning.
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Rivals attack Tesla at its weakest point
An African proverb says “when a big problem brings you to your knees, don’t be surprised to see smaller problems climbing all over you”. This is the exact state of things at Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) now after much ado about the fatal Model S crash has weakened the firm’s impregnable armor. Now, smaller rivals are emboldened to challenge Tesla and Atieva is leading the charge against Elon Musk. Atieva has released a video in which it challenges Tesla’s Model S and a Ferrari California to a drag race.
Atieva is an EV startup founded by former execs at Tesla and Oracle, Atieva has poached a number of key talents from Elon Musk’s firm. Atieva’s prototype vehicle called ‘Edna’ packs 900 horsepower into an AWD powertrain. In the video, the powertrain was used to carry a modified Mercedes-Benz Vito and it is apparent that the van beats both the Model S and the Ferrari to the finish line.
Atieva’s van is also fast and it goes 0.6 in 3.08 seconds as seen in the video. The firm says it plans to put its powertrian into a Sedan will go on sale in 2018. Some folks might want to dismiss Atieva as an upstart that is miles behind Tesla. The dismissal would have been on point – except for the fact that challenging existing rivals to a drag races seems to be the MO for EV startups seeking to make a name in the industry.
Nissan introduces Autopilot with a different name
While Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA)is coming to terms with the reality that its Autopilot system is not perfect, Nissan has found a perfect opportunity to introduce its own autopilot tech. Nissan has unveiled an autopilot system called ProPilot that can steer the car and apply the brakes on its own. ProPilot also allows drivers to take their hands off the wheels for some seconds.
However, Nissan’s VP Hideyuki Sakamoto says “this is not self-driving. It is, rather, a driver-assistant system.” Nissan has learnt from Tesla’s mistakes and the Japanese firm is trying to avoid hyping ProPilot and giving drivers a false sense of security behind the wheels. The firm says “we’ve taken many countermeasures.” ProPilot won’t be available on U.S. roads immediately, it will have its debut in Japan before making its way across Europe before it eventually comes to US roads.