With its upcoming Model 3, Tesla Motors Inc is gearing up to make its move into the affordable car market. Getting yourself that exclusive “Tesla owner” status soon will be possible for less than half the price of a new Model S. The demand for Tesla’s cheapest EV yet is already running strong. Nearly 400,000 pre-orders have been placed so far. Most surprising about this number is the fact that the affordable Model 3 won’t be delivered for over a year.
Across the ocean, however — way over in the east — is a continent that houses a growing group of Tesla competitors. Asia, and China in particular, is not only poised to produce some formidable Tesla rivals, but already has its own automotive juggernauts too. With Tesla preparing to come into new territory, it should bear in mind that the likes of Toyota have long dominated the affordable car space. Further still, it would take very little effort for the Asian automotive giant to completely eclipse luxury car maker in the EV mid-market.
Toyota could own the all-EV space
Toyota Motor Corp has been in the automotive space long before Elon Musk and Co. had even begun drawing up the plans for what is now the globe’s most successful luxury EV maker. The Japanese car maker was also dabbling with electric car ideas for a while before Tesla came into the lime light. This year, Toyota pushed its hybrid sales over the 9 million mark.
In August 1997, Toyota set its Coaster Hybrid EV out into market. Nearly 3 months later, the first generation of the now popular Prius was launched. Since then over 9 million hybrids have been sold by the Japanese car maker. On April 30th 2016, Toyota reported 9,014 million hybrids sales, Car Scoops reports.
Toyota is the world’s car sales leader
If one had to list the most trusted and popular brands in the affordable car market right now, Toyota would certainly rank somewhere at the top. Last year the company retook its place as the world’s global sales leader, bumping Volkswagen from its short-lived time on the top pedestal. Toyota sold just under 7.5 million of its cars, EV and non-EVs, for the year-ended September.
Although, the title was not one which the company’s chief exec was too happy about. “I want everybody in the world to see our company as the greatest car manufacturer, rather than the biggest,” said Akio Toyoda, CEO and grandson of the auto brand’s founder.
Regardless, car buyers clearly love and trust Toyota as a car brand. Even its hybrid EVs are soaring in sales. The Prius, the car firm’s most revered and possibly the world’s most famous hybrid car, has a near 4 million unit sales globally. Its hybrid siblings too have sold well over a million units worldwide. It has a firm hold on the affordable car market and could easily hit the ground running if it had to produce an EV with specs similar to the Model 3.
Right now GM’s successor to the Chevy Volt, the Bolt, is said to be Tesla’s largest problem in the affordable EV segment. It too promises a similar range per charge, over 200 miles, and goes for a similar price. The Bolt would also be out nearly a year a head of the Model 3, so it is thought to outdo the car due to its head start.
The Tesla appeal
But those who subscribe to this idea have misunderstood the appeal of Tesla’s most affordable car. The Model 3 will present itself as a chance to become a part of Tesla Motors’ exclusive and luxury EV brand at a discount. CEO Elon Musk assured an great 200-mile-plus performer, without skimming on the luxury aspects either. All this for only $35,000 at standard.
Tesla has a growing demand worldwide but is held back but one major problem. The EV maker cannot convert all its fans into buyers. This is mostly due to the high prices of its elegant EVs. The Model S starts at around $71,000 at standard and the Model X can go for about $200,000 in some regions of the globe. The Model 3 will be Tesla’s answer to the financial exclusivity of its cars, making the much loved Tesla EVs a lot more accessible to everyone.
So what if the world’s sales leader and affordable car giant produced an EV to rival Tesla’s Model 3? Adoption wouldn’t even be an issue for Toyota, who has already proven itself as a competent electric car maker and a dominator in the hybrid department. However, despite the influx of Tesla competitors in the region, Toyota appears to have no plans to make a high-range EV.
It shouldn’t be too long before we hear news of one though. The auto industry in quickly catching on. Electric cars are far more than an alternative means of getting around now. EVs are in fact the motoring solutions of the future.