Axios Pro: Climate Deals

November 12, 2022

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Welcome back to Climate Deals: Wheels!

Tesla CEO and hype man Elon Musk is, ahem, in the news. But that's not why we bumped Tesla to the top of the schedule.

  • The automaker that brought EVs to the masses β€” the models by which all others are measured β€” is finally facing competition. It's time to see whether it still measures up.

1 big thing: Utter electric dominance

The Tesla logo glows blue in the window of a showroom in Shanghai at night.

The Tesla logo glows in a showroom window in Shanghai. Photo: CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The Model 3 is the "affordable" Tesla β€” the one that followed the path blazed by the six-figure Model S and Model X.

Why it matters: The Model 3 is the third most popular car in America, behind only the Toyota Camry and Corolla.

  • Put another way: More people are buying a Model 3 than a Honda Civic or Accord.

Catch up fast: We take these strategies that Tesla pioneered for granted.

  • Cars reframed as sleek computers-on-wheels, buttressed by over-the-air updates and new features;
  • Heavy investment in a network of fast, reliable and easy-to-find charging stations;
  • Seamless sales through the company's website and showrooms;
  • An early focus not on high-volume, low-cost cars, but on lust-worthy luxury vehicles.

The bottom line: These innovations were hugely effective.

  • The Tesla alchemy transformed EVs from dry, sugar-free granola into decadent, brag-worthy brunch.

Yes, but: Tesla's been in production hell for years, and its customers are the ones who keep paying the price.

What's happening: Tesla vastly accelerated its output year over year to meet projections and investor goals. It doubled deliveries in 2021 alone.

What we're watching: The race is on to see if Tesla figures out its production problems before Tesla buyers finally get fed up.

  • Lousy reliability hasn't exactly stopped drivers from buying Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler, but there's a reason only a handful of their vehicles are best-sellers.

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