Anyone who has followed Tesla’s story over the past few years would know that one of the main arguments against the electric car maker is the upcoming competition coming from more experienced and knowledgeable automakers. Critics have argued that once mainstream automakers got serious about their electric car endeavors, an inexperienced company like Tesla would easily be overwhelmed. This scenario hasn’t happened at all – and if Tesla’s recent range upgrades to its S3XY range are anything to build upon, it’s becoming evident that the legacy car has lagged ridiculously behind in the electric car race.
Tesla’s recent range upgrades, which were rolled out alongside the Model 3 “upgrade”
It should be noted that Tesla was able to make these improvements without any of the big updates which it announced on Battery Day. During the highly anticipated event, Tesla revealed the new 4680 form factor of its batteries, which is 5 times the volume of the Model 3 and Model Y 2170 cells. Tesla also announced a new vehicle manufacturing that prioritizes one-piece castings and a structural battery pack. Other innovations were also discussed, such as the use of high nickel content cathodes and silicon anodes.
None of these innovations are in Tesla’s recently updated vehicles.
Ultimately, Tesla’s recent updates highlight how far the company has moved on from the group in the electric vehicle industry. The fact that the electric car maker was able to achieve a range of 371 miles for the X Long Range Dual Motor AWD model with the same 100 kWh battery pack and 18650 cells as its Model X 100D predecessor is almost ridiculous. This is particularly noteworthy when you consider that the Audi e-tron, which has a battery pack that is nearly the same size as the Model X, has a range of 222 miles, and this is the variant with the improved range already.
Tesla’s advantage in terms of range becomes even more significant when we consider the Model 3 and Model Y, both of which use a battery pack that reaches nearly 75 kWh. A comparison of the two vehicles versus the competition shows a stark contrast, with the Polestar 2, a car that is widely considered a legitimate rival to the Model 3, with an EPA-estimated range of 233 miles from a 78-inch battery pack. kWh. The Jaguar I-PACE, a crossover fairly similar in size to the Model Y, follows the same pattern, with an EPA-estimated range of 246 miles per charge from a 90 kWh battery.
There are likely numerous reasons behind Tesla’s insane leadership in the electric car industry today, but a good chunk of it probably has a lot to do with the company’s intense focus on battery technology and development. Tesla has been focusing on improving and optimizing its batteries from day one, and as has been seen in recent S3XY range upgrades, this obsessive quest for optimization matters a lot. These efforts are by no means emulated with most legacy automakers, as veterans typically seem content to use standard batteries from suppliers for their EV programs.
Yet perhaps the most inconvenient reason behind the distance of historic cars from Tesla vehicles today is something much simpler: hubris. While mainstream automakers have been claiming for years that they are serious about their future shift to electric cars, their actions have largely been far less tangible than their words. Today, it’s almost as if Tesla’s competitors in the electric vehicle industry are all too comfortable just watching the electric car maker improve over the years. And now that Tesla has transformed into a force that is very hard to ignore, they are trying to catch up.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to catch a moving target. When mainstream automakers get to where Tesla is today, it’s almost certain that the electric car maker will be even further ahead. This distance will likely be even greater, as Tesla’s next-generation battery technology has yet to enter the picture. Once Tesla’s 4,680 cells are in production and its vehicles are built with structural battery packs, the gap between the electric car maker and its competitors will surely be even more significant. And that, at least for legacy cars, is a scenario worthy of the final act of a tragedy.