Tesla Makes Noise; Nissan, Ford, Toyota Make Marketshare

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It’s funny how things work some times. Usually an auto product drives successful marketshare on the basis of resonant marketing messages, good customer reviews and quality service. But, when it comes to the U.S. EV market, it appears that the big dog sets the table, but the little dogs gets to eat.

This is true in the case of what’s going on with Tesla Motors’s sales numbers, versus its less expensive competitors in the form of Nissan, Toyota (believe it or not), and of all brands; Ford with its Energi product. Although on first blush, the share variance between the different electrified brands may appear to be based on price sensitivity alone, there are a couple of other issues at play as well.

First, just to put the price issue to bed at the outset; let’s face it, Tesla’s products are expensive and really not available to the ‘average’ middle-income buyer; and total units sold will always be the primary metric for a successful auto product. However, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, and his people are still working hard to translate the practical cost of, say, a Model S into real-world value on a daily basis. But in the end of the day, $95k versus $30k will always be a heavy lift for regular folks.

Then, there’s the matter of sales values driven by the leveraging of one or more, large national dealer networks; like those currently developed and operated by Nissan and other competitors. This approach always creates dividends since the more sales outlets available on a daily basis, the more brand-holders have an opportunity to execute face-to-face sales transactions based on practical demonstrations of the EV/PHEV value.

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Finally, Tesla continues to be stuck in the middle of a series of rancorous domestic lawsuits with a host of states and commercial dealer organizations, and regardless of Mae West’s historical admonition suggesting that “Bad publicity is better than no publicity at all,” the constant white-noise damages Tesla’s ability to sell efficiently into its own country.

That said, while the people at San Carlos continue to fight the good fight, Tesla IS creating more and more market value in the EU along with emergent activity in the Asia-Pacific region, so no one is going to go hungry either way. However, it would be nice if an All-American brand could finally ascend to the top of the EV/PHEV pyramid for a change; even if for a moment.

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