What is the name of the new electric car that is going to go against Tesla?
Well, there are a lot of candidates for what you might mean. Since Tesla is the undisputed market leader outside of China, pretty much everything gets compared to it. Let's do a rundown of the ones I'm aware of that are being called competition to Tesla.
- Chevy Bolt - Announced a year ago with a concept car, this compact hatchback was shown in a working production prototype at CES 2016. Chevy promises 200 miles of range, a price tag of $37,500 and 50 states availability. It's expected to be on sale late in 2016. Many people think that this car is competition for the Tesla Model III which will be unveiled in March 2016 with expected first deliveries in 2017. That car will have a minimum 200 mile range and a $35,000 price tag for the base model, so some relatively unsophisticated people think that they are in the same category. But the Bolt is a low- to mid-market compact hatchback and the Model III is a compact luxury car, two different segments with two different demographics typically purchasing them. And while the Bolt is peppy with 7 seconds to 60 mph granted to it by electric motors, the Model III will undoubtedly be a lot quicker in the base model and have a ton of upgrades to give it AWD, Ludicrous Mode, extended battery sizes and the like which will make it likely that many sold will be well north of $50K and possibly up in the $60-$70K range. A lot of people who might consider a Chevy Bolt would also consider the base Model III. Also, Chevy has to find a way to deal with the real problem of dealerships not liking to sell electric cars.
- Faraday Future - Also unveiled at CES 2016, Faraday is a company set up by a Chinese TV mogul. Lots of people have been touting them as a Tesla killer and they've been working up the comparisons by hiring Tesla employees, setting up manufacturing in some of the same states and the like. However, what Faraday showed off in a non-working concept at CES 2016 was a weird single-person hypothetically autonomous maybe aerodynamic lounge chair. It was a collection of memes without any proof of underlying technology. They burbled about alternative business models without any evidence that they actually have a real business model in mind. They have a lot of money, so maybe they'll turn into something real eventually, but they certainly aren't real today.
- Porsche Mission E - With this concept car announcement, we actually get to something that might actually challenge Tesla's Model S. The Mission E is supposed to be pretty high performance and Porsche actually knows how to do that. It's supposed to be pretty sexy, but what I saw looked more like Photoshop gone wild than any real car, so it's unclear what the real product will look like. It's supposed to charge faster than a Tesla too, but there is zero evidence of Porsche or anyone else building a Porsche Charging network, so while this may be possible in theory or in a handful of locations, it's not like Tesla's Supercharger network which is working to make itself ubiquitous. That's actually the part that baffles me. Why not just use the Supercharger network and get in bed with Tesla on that? Fit for purpose instead of going yet-another-charging direction. Maybe they'll get their heads on straight. Meanwhile, by the time the Mission E gets to market, Tesla will likely have the Model S, X and III on the market, and the Mission E will only really compete with the fully kitted out Model S.
- Audi E Tron Q6 - Audi have been promising an all electric E Tron for a while, and I heard rumblings somewhere that you could actually pay them to build you a boutique one off if you wanted to shell out the coin badly enough. They do sell a hybrid or two under the E Tron brand currently. Now they've unveiled an all electric SUV which would be in the same category as the Tesla Model X. Luxury SUVs and cross overs is actually a reasonably big and growing market, so an electric Audi SUV would be competition for the Tesla Model X. But not for the Model S or the Model III of course. And it will be really just more competition for the increasingly outclassed internal combustion SUVs. It's supposed to be on the market in 2018.
- Mercedes - In a recent announcement, Mercedes promised to massively accelerate their electric platform with not one car in 2018 as previously stated, but four cars in 2017. We'll see, but Tesla has been eating Mercedes market and mind share with its cars, so Mercedes has to step up to the plate.
- Aston Martin RapidE - This concept car was unveiled in late 2015 and is apparently being funded by deep pockets from China. It's expected in maybe 2017 or 2018, and since Aston Martin does great work with grand touring cars it's very reasonably a direct choice between it and the Tesla Model S. But once again, not the Model X or Model III, and certainly not the 2019 Roadster that's been announced with Maximum Plaid mode.
- VW - Well, the diesel test fixing scandal has actually lit a fire under the company, kind of. They have finally given their head a shake, realized that internal combustion isn't the future but the past and barely the present, and committed to a full electric-only platform and series of cars. But the ongoing costs associated with the scandal mean that the funding commitment is pretty light. We'll see.
- BYD - The Chinese company BYD is actually on the market today with an electric car it's targeting at fleet vehicles in the rest of the world, mostly taxis, and also electric buses. However, in China the BYD Qin is crushing electric car sales, outselling everything else. This is a story that the rest of the world is missing, that the 1.3 billion people in China are going to electric transportation pretty rapidly and doing it with their own brands we don't hear about. Expect new brands out of China to replace old internal combustion brands that don't radically transform their fleets.
Basically, there are a lot of car companies that seem to have finally woken up to the reality that fully electric drive trains are the only viable path for regulated carbon and polluting emissions that also offers what consumers want. Most of them are being touted as competitors for Tesla, but they are really competitors for the incumbent internal combustion cars and brands and are validating Tesla.
Faraday Future. They claim to have around 400 employees and a lot of funding too. They've not sold a car yet.