The headline: “GM plans to overtake Tesla.” That’s the news. That’s not happening and I’ll explain why.
General Motors has slowly been launching themselves on to the electric vehicle landscape to compete with Tesla and their near-dominance in the market. In 2010, GM released a plug-in hybrid with the Chevrolet Volt before even Tesla released their first popular market electric car, the Model S. (The Chevy Volt has since been discontinued).
Ford, on the other hand, has been a bit slower to the punch. They did just announce their first big step into the EV market with the Mustang Mach-E — a neat concept to compete with Tesla’s new Model Y. Their other ventures into electric have been slightly more subtle with most Ford models (like the Taurus and Fusion) all available as a hybrid.
So GM has a headstart. Is it enough to compete with Tesla? Well, not really.
For one, Tesla has major dominance on electric vehicles. Not only are they the most popular EV manufacturer, Tesla’s biggest sell is that they have the largest network of superchargers. So even though Ford’s Mustang and Porche’s Taycan Turbo are appealing, they likely don’t stand a chance against Tesla’s growing charging network.
GM has neither appeal nor a network. They are still building ugly cars.
The Chevy Volt was an okay-looking car. It was nothing special, just more like a middle-of-the-road car similar to the Cruze or maybe Impala or Malibu. It’s a compact car and a hybrid. You get what you get. But it sure beats the Bolt.
In 2017, before Tesla released the Model 3, GM initially released the Chevrolet Bolt, a mediocre-designed electric car that’s only a step ahead of the 2010 Nissan Leaf (yuck). Although the Bolt and Model 3 aren’t marketed towards the same people — the Bolt is a family-style crossover while the Model 3 is a sporty sedan — the Model Y, on the other hand, is both sporty while also leaving tons of room inside. The Model 3 is the same price as the Bolt, and the Model Y is only $10k more.
GM announced that they’re aggressively leaning towards electric in the future. They announced a Hummer re-launch, but all-electric. It’s a really cool idea, especially since the Hummer’s reputation was ruined by its gas-guzzling and how harmful it was to the environment. Now it’s back in 2021 under GMC’s umbrella.
Another big move GM has decided to make is in the Cadillac Lyriq — just another ugly and poorly-designed electric car that a major auto manufacturer thought was necessary.
The problem with GM is that they still don’t understand where Tesla’s success came from.
To this day, Tesla has spent next-to-nothing on advertising or public relations. Most of the excitement from the brand comes from word-of-mouth. That’s something nearly every brand dreams of. GM is still stuck in the old age of auto manufacturing. To them, an all-electric car is still some magical fantasy. Electric cars are going to be as common as elevators by 2030, maybe even sooner. GM still seems to think the year is 2003.
If GM really wants to compete in the EV market, they need to rethink their entire approach to electric vehicles.