Is Tesla the new Apple?

By Tolkien Osborn on Friday, 20 May 2016

For years now, nearly all new car models are launched at either Frankfurt or Detroit motor shows with pretty women standing in nearby attendance dressed in brand colours.

However last week’s launch event for the Tesla Model 3 had more in common with an Apple or Google product launch than with a traditional car launch. The new Model 3 made its world debut in front of an invited crowd of Tesla owners, potential buyers and journalists at the SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The car was greeted with whooping and hollering from the crowd just like an Apple launch event.

The similarities don’t stop there. Tesla have a smug, maverick CEO in Elon Musk who says he wants to change the world and he has the swagger of a man that knows he has the competition scared. It’s all in the same vain that Mac users knew Apple and Steve Jobs would make interfaces work on phones back in 2007 and in the process change a whole industry.

You also have to look at the marketing strategy for similarities. No massive spend on campaigns. Just genre-defining products and a hard wired link into tech journos and blogs. It’s telling that there are more Tesla articles on Verge, Engadget and gizmodo than on Auto Express and Top Gear. It’s only a matter of time before the established motor industry complains to the BBC about unfair coverage!

Let’s look at the Model 3’s impressive stats.

215 mile range - About triple what the completion are currently offering.

0-60 in under 5 seconds – This is the stuff of supercars. The cheapest 0-60 in under 5 seconds in the UK at the moment is the New Ford Mustang V8 at £33,995.

AutopilotTesla’s autopilot system is somewhere between cruise control and full automation.

All of this on a car with a launch price of approx. £25k. £25k! This is even more impressive when you consider that the only real competition for the car currently (coming in 2017) is the Chevrolet Bolt. Chevrolet pulled out of the UK market last year. This is one of the reasons over a quarter of a million people have been queuing up to place $1000 deposits on these vehicles. See the time-lapse queues below

Timelapse Tesla QueueTimelapse Tesla Queue 2

In order to supply these cars to market by the launch date (end 2017) Tesla are going to have to seriously ramp up production. In fact to create the amount of li-ion batteries they need Tesla have created the “Gigafactory” an impressively huge solar-panelled megastructure just outside Reno, Nevada.


Can Tesla deliver on their promise and record breaking pre-orders? We imagine that most Model 3s will be delayed but those early adopters that have them will be able to sell for large mark-ups of at least £5-10k. We would expect Tesla’s stock price to continue to rise as well.

Can the others catch up? Or will BMW and Mercedes go the way of Nokia and Ericsson? And will Apple and Google’s hand on automated transport be forced?

What’s more, will we see this sort of interest in future fintech products or services? We don’t see anyone cheering and whooping at Barclays Bpay launches or Lloyds latest update to their mobile app yet. But Tesla have shown that other sectors apart from software and technology can generate immense buzz and massive interest.

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