For years, the opinion prevailed that it would be easy for the major automakers to catch up with Tesla in manufacturing once they got going, thanks to their experience in mass-producing vehicles. And that’s how traditional automakers behaved, too, because that’s how little they saw the urgency to go after electric cars. But that view is becoming increasingly brittle.
It started when other manufacturers realized that they were not just one or two years behind Tesla in some components, but six years. What began as an initial realization of Tesla’s technological and developmental lead in electronics, batteries and software, became the truth with the chip crisis that was shaking the automotive industry. Tesla has so far been the only manufacturer to continuously increase production figures during the pandemic.
If you believe the announcements of the heads of the other manufacturers, the essence of the statements is that Tesla will soon have to “dress warmly”, because now they will all start producing electric cars and can use their combined power and experience in mass production.
However, according to a report in the Financial Times, this is not the case. Patrick McGee and Joe Miller looked at each manufacturer’s announced production capacity growth from Bernstein, IHS and EV-Volumes.com data through 2025 and came to the opposite conclusion.
As the analysis of the figures shows, Volkswagen alone is on track to overtake Tesla in absolute unit production of electric cars from 2024. Daimler will produce just a quarter of Tesla’s electric car unit numbers in 2025, BMW 30 percent. Only the American come a little closer. Fort with 40 percent, followed by GM with slightly less. Only Stellantis, with brands such as Chrysler, Fiat or Opel, will come close to 60 percent of Tesla’s production in 2025.
However, these figures should also be treated with caution because they are based on the forecasts of the respective companies. Specifically, Ford is targeting 600,000 units for 2023, although industry insiders do not expect more than 450,000 units. However, Ford’s estimate is already half below the number of units conservatively targeted by Tesla for 2023. Volkswagen’s production targets were also a quarter below its own forecasts.
Tesla, on the other hand, has had an average annual growth rate of 59 percent over the past seven years, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to continue that rate. Demand for Teslas continues unabated, and in a few weeks both the new Tesla factories in Berlin and Austin will begin operations. Then another million vehicles per year will be added to the current production capacity of Shanghai and Fremont.
But the problems for the major manufacturers are only just beginning. So far, electric cars have been cross-subsidized from the proceeds of combustion engines. However, with falling diesel and gasoline sales and a significant increase in electric car registrations, this is becoming increasingly difficult. But since the changeover in production requires a lot of money, the drop in revenue could make it even more difficult to catch up with Tesla than the current plans already do not promise.
This article was also published in German.