In the fiercely competitive world of disruptive automotive technologies, it is rare to see a rival praise another. As rare as it may be, a key executive of European luxury car brand, Audi AG, has praised Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) for its superior electric vehicle technology saying it has met customers’ expectations.
In an automotive conference in Germany last week, director of battery EVs from Audi, Stefan Neimand, praised Tesla Motors and said: “I hate to admit it, but Tesla did everything right”. He referred to Tesla’s rapidly growing network of supercharger stations not only in the US but elsewhere in the world as a key factor that puts it ahead in the race.
He said unless other battery electric vehicle manufactures were willing to commit to a similar strategy, they risk falling further behind the American fledgling car maker. European automakers in particular are bringing electric vehicles to the market that fall short of customers’ expectations, Mr. Neimand claimed.
“These cars are slower than those with conventional drive and they have a much lower range – and in compensation they are more expensive,” he said.
Tesla, which already considers Europe as its largest market outside the US, currently has seen unit sales – buoyed single handedly by a single production vehicle, the Model S sedan – grow several folds from a few thousand units in the launch year (2012) to more than 50,000 vehicles last year. The company’s supercharger network has grown too now spanning 611 supercharger stations with over 3,600 charging points.
In comparison, Mr. Neimand thinks charging station development projects from European car manufacturers are lagging far behind, implying this to be a major hurdle in the growth of electric vehicle sales in the region. He said Europeans really want to drive premium-priced vehicles that do not damage the environment but they still need strong charging infrastructure. He proposes a dense network of charging stations in the region with a power output of at least 350 kW.
While Tesla has been harsh on other rivals in the past, perhaps it may have returned the favor to Audi already. Tesla’s upcoming mass-market electric sedan, the Model 3, has been compared with Audi A4 by the company.