The key to selling something is to not sell the same thing everyone else is selling. Elon Musk grasps this concept.
His electric emulators do not.
Perhaps the latest sales figures will help them to grasp it. It appears that Tesla is about to become the best-selling luxury car brand in the United States, toppling BMW – which held the title for many years.
Some will recall the old BMW slogan about Ultimate Driving Machines. It wasn’t just a slogan. BMW invented the luxury-sport sedan with iconic models like the 2002 of the ‘70s. The numbers signified two-door sedan, two liter engine – connected to a manual transmission. It was a car you drove.
Other luxury cars drove you places.
The distinction isn’t about better or worse but rather about the differences. If you wanted the sounds and sensations of a high-performance sports car Matryoshka-doll’d within the body of a luxury car, the compass needle pointed toward a BMW store.
There was nothing else quite like a BMW.
Mercedes, meanwhile, specialized in overbuilt, under-stressed road-bound tanks that would last 300,000 miles. They were plush and even a little stodgy in contrast to the BMW’s taut and youthful.
These was nothing quite like them either.
Horses for courses – and that gave you choices. There were other choices, too – including Lexus (which offered a less expensive and even better-built Mercedes) as well as Audi (for the AWD experience, which others didn’t offer in those days) and gilded, bench-seated American dreadnoughts from Cadillac, Lincoln and Chrysler, et al.
None of these being the same things offered up under different badges.
Tesla was the first car company to sell new cars without engines. At first, they were converted cars, with the donor (Lotus) cars providing the shell, into which Tesla planted electric motors and batteries. These didn’t sell well, chiefly because they weren’t an improvement over the Lotus-engined cars they started out as. It is almost certain they would never have sold well, making it hard for Elon to make money selling them.
The government saw Elon’s operation as valuable – to its long-range agenda to utterly control how and when and even if we are allowed to drive, which EVs are ideally suited to further – because he was selling the electric car on speed and “technology.” This might – it did – take people’s minds off of the electric car’s perennial economic and functional deficits – especially their much higher cost and much lower practicality. Maybe people would be interested in quick and slick-looking electric cars.
Especially if they had to buy them.
Even if they didn’t realize they were paying for them.
It gave Elon a credit line to other car company’s tills. Since they didn’t make electric cars – since they weren’t selling – but because government mandated that they at least offer a certain number of them, in order to be allowed to sell any cars at all – they were forced to buy carbon credits from Elon. These “credits” would “offset” the “emissions” (of carbon dioxide) the other car companies were befouling the air with by not building the required number of “zero emissions” (ahem) electric cars. This provided Elon with his operating capital for many years, which he used to further develop his electric cars at the expense of his rivals. They were literally obliged to finance their own undoing. Money that would otherwise have gone toward R&D for new engines went toward motors.
An obliging “media” helped by providing free public-relations for electric cars, touting their quickness and “technology” while rarely, if ever, mentioning their several liabilities and concurrently shaming the manufacturers of engine’d cars as the cause of imminent but never quite arriving catastrophic “climate change.” Which change has yet to negatively affect the value of seal-level, waterfront properties – supposedly in imminent danger of inundation.
Interestingly, these properties are often owned by those most “concerned” about “climate change.”
Elon became not just a seller of electric cars. He became a savior figure. Almost Faucian in stature. His every utterance – no matter how ridiculous – treated with fawning approbation.
And without a peep of challenge by the car companies he was serially bleeding white. Rather they rolled up their sleeves and offered up their arms, practically begging to be drained.
Poltroonery at the highest level, probably motivated by the short-term financial incentives of major car company honchos to go along to get along . . . knowing they won’t be around for long (and will hopefully be long gone when it all comes undone, safe somewhere else – ensconced on a mountain of cash) probably accounts for this selling-of-themselves out.
This kind of thinking has largely embodied corporate thinking at most of the major car companies since at least the ’90s, when a collective decision seems to have been made (your libertarian car guy was there to see it being made) that it was easier to go along to get along; that open resistance was futile. That money could even be made by anticipating the latest federal folderol and getting it into production before it was officially mandated. The last audible peep of protest over such mandating being the tepid hand-raising regarding first generation air bags, which the lower-down engineers knew were going to get people killed on account of the force of deployment and told the higher-ups. Who told them to shut up and get back to work.
Still, none of this was fatal, per se.
Having accepted that government decides what kinds of cars shall be built, the car companies accepted – in principle – that nothing other than electric cars would be built, once the government so decreed.
And so it has unfolded.
Now, BMW – and the rest – find themselves losing sales to Tesla, the monstrosity they breathed life into. Trying to compete with Tesla by selling the same things that Tesla is known for selling.
Perhaps it will occur to them – too late, probably – that there’s not much future in trying to sell the same government-mandated thing that Tesla – and now, everyone else – is also selling. How many different varieties of cordless drills is there a market for?
It would wonderful if they remembered what used to make a BMW (or a Mercedes or an Audi or Cadillac) different . . . and decided to resume selling that, again.
All it would take is guts enough to publicly say – from now on, we’re selling what our customers want. Which is none of the government’s business.
It might just prevent them from going out of business.
. . .
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