The forefront of many automotive conversations today center around the autonomous and electric vehicles that are set to hit the market in the coming years. While much excitement surrounds the future and its technological advancements, many conversations about the today’s cars are quite dismal. Many vehicles lack style, the technology isn’t very good in many vehicles, and crossovers are taking over most brands’ lineups. It had me begin to ponder what has become of today’s automotive space as companies such as Tesla, and even younger companies like Rivian, are beginning to take off in popularity while more traditional brands are falling off a cliff. With some thinking and in depth conversations with a friend, I may have hit the nail on the head as to why some companies have become so immensely popular and why others have come to lack public interest. It can best be summed up in one saying: Success lies in the future and the public’s perception of it, not the present.
In present time, most companies are spitting out crossovers at rapid fire while cutting sedan lineups right and left. Styling is not enough to differentiate most models to the average consumer, and there isn’t anything exciting about most new crossovers hitting the market. There is no real excitement anymore in owning a Chevrolet, a Ford, a Toyota, a Honda, a Volkswagen, a Hyundai, or others. But when you tend to hear Tesla conversations, people light up with excitement and passion. Millennials, very tech driven in their daily lives, want the latest and greatest car with the coolest, most intuitive technology that’s offered. They want a Tesla or perhaps one of the forthcoming adventure focused Rivian SUVs or pickup trucks. When you break it down to what is creating success and hype in certain companies, it becomes quite clear why stock in Tesla surpasses that of the rest of the industry, and it comes back to my saying earlier.
Most traditional automakers focus their products on what is in demand now, what sells well, and what they can make the most profits on. Hence the number of crossovers and pickup trucks hitting the market, but its nothing new or innovative. When everyone is chasing the same crowd and there isn’t much to differentiate them, people don’t tend to gravitate towards them. When a company tries something new on the other hand, something that is both tech focused and forward thinking, people get excited!
When you look at Tesla, it first operated on a small scale to commit to research and development of its electric vehicles over 10 years ago. The hype did not get big until the Model S and X hit the market and consumers saw what the company was capable of. As they outlined their future vision and continued to expand their lineup and technology, the hype only grew because people saw they were delivering on cheaper, tech focused electric vehicles, and this made them believe in the company’s vision. And with a passionate, vocal, and visionary CEO that isn’t afraid to take risks and put fun quirks and features in its vehicles that will delight customers everyday, a new experience was created. As people have come accustomed to these new features and over the air software updates that give new infotainment and driving experiences, word spread of how great the product was, as it was truly different.
While Rivian is still in its early stages to roll out its first product line, it is clear from their standpoint that they, too, are taking a different approach to electric vehicles, something that could also get consumers obsessed with something new and innovative. See, success isn’t just driven off of what’s out now, a hype is created when you think outside the box and you strive to create something forward thinking and new, be it a product or an experience. When people work passionately and begin to deliver as much as, or more than, what was promised, people believe in the vision and want to be a part of it. Nothing exciting comes out of the present, the fun and excitement lies in what’s coming, as long as companies prove they will deliver, and that they are serious.
So as we move towards an era where every automaker will seamlessly be making EVs (electric vehicles) and later AVs (autonomous vehicles), the real competition will begin. With an influx of these EVs to the market, the winners and losers will become clear. If demand isn’t high enough yet, some companies may even find themselves in serious financial situations. As with Tesla, serious investments need to continue in technology and innovation to move forward, and while most companies are, if they don’t set themselves apart, the are destined to blend in. With forthcoming changes, blending in isn’t safe anymore, as it could cause financial turmoil. Brands tend to chase one another, but as it has been seen with Tesla and Rivian, winning means setting yourself apart first, not following the crowd. It’s not too late for many traditional automakers to correct their wrongdoing and branch out a bit to take risks, as Tesla and Rivian have, to achieve higher success. The only question is if they have the guts to strive for this and deliver before it is too late. They need to create a new vision for the future and prove to the public they are serious and will deliver a spectacular end product and experience.