• Apr 14th 2011 at 1:08PM
  • 5

As fitting as it may seem to compare the birth of automakers a hundred years ago to the current sprouting of entrepreneurial automakers selling electric vehicles, Jesse Snyder of Automotive News points out that it's not quite comparing apples to apples. For one, the very first vehicles were created as a replacement for the horse and buggy and pioneering automakers did not exactly have well-established competition to go up against. Modern independent automakers looking to grab some market share have ICE vehicles already on the roads as well as deep-pocketed corporations engineering EVs to go toe-to-toe with. Additionally, nowadays, there are stringent safety regulations to pass. Finally, since the EV is not exactly a new concept, as we've written before, we're assuming it probably does not have the same 'wow factor' for the public as, say, the first ever vehicle that didn't require an animal for propulsion.

Although the automakers then and now faced different circumstances, it is certain that they have passion for their work. For a small EV company to make it big in this market is no small feat. Only time may tell, but hopefully, some of these new visionaries are destined to join the ranks of their predecessors. For more on this topic, read this column by Richard Canny, the former CEO of Think.

[Source: Automotive News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      One thing that isn't often mentioned is that the sales channels have not changed in 50 years in North America. What Tesla is doing with their stores is just as disruptive as their cars.

      Once you've sold one car through a dealership, the law force you to only sell this way. You can never sell direct and the only way to shed dealerships is to go bankrupt - like Chrysler and GM did. Plus, dealership rights an be passed along in a succession, so this could go on forever. Scary.

      New EV automakers have to be able to sell direct and operate their own stores. It's better for consumers, will result in lower prices and remove the greedy car sales man and his cousin the dishonest auto repairman.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Who do you think work in Tesla's stores? Non-Greedy salesman? The engine of our modern economy, and employment are the salesman who create new money.

        The old Maxim, 'nothing happens until a salesman sells something' is still just as true as it was when my namesake decided to ride on over to India, Persia, and China, just to see what he could sell!. People fear salesmen because ego's are threatened by the fear that the salesman is smarter. When it comes to cars everyone begrudges the dealer his profit, but the same person will greedily boast about the good deal he did when selling his old car.

        Human nature. Car manufacturers, invested heavily in the internet, hoping in this way to get rid of dealers. Not only didn't it work, but profit margins collapsed. People by from people.

        Want to buy a car without 'greedy salesmen', buy a Trabant',! Oh that's right you can't because Trabant, like all socialist enterprise, went broke!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, we'll see if this hurts or helps Tesla in the future. Since Fisker and other are following the traditional dealership route, it's going to be interesting to compare the two models.

        I'm a fan of Apple, and I'm sure glad that Tesla is following the same road. We'll see if it works for the auto industry.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Calm down my friend - I should have said "auto dealership salespeople". My bad.

        All I'm saying is that in order to thrive, a business should not have to be be forced to use a single sale channel. These laws were passed in the 50's and 60's and never reviewed.

        If you were an automaker, would you like to have *zero* control over the way your products are sold?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm surprised that Canada follows the Sherman act. Auto dealerships are usually privately owned for two reasons. 1) Like movie studios and theatres, the US Government usually tries to separate manufacture from retail distribution, to prevent monopoly.

        2) The local Auto dealer is more likely to be able to build strong community ties within a designated community and show more incentive to actively push the product. The investment in hundred of outlets is also considerable. The automaker exerts greater influence, with less overhead, by the franchise system of 'licenced' 'Dealer Principals'.

        Recent years have seen a reversal of this system worldwide, as legislatures around the world enacted laws prohibiting the Automaker to prevent the dealer representing other automakers in multi-franchise dealerships. As a result, Automakers like BMW, Toyota, Mercedes began buying back dealerships, and operating the franchises directly.

        Tesla is no different, but Tesla thinks because of the nature of EV's, it's show rooms will be more like Apple shops, than the traditional dealer with it's service department, and large stock/storage facilities for new and old cars.

        In fact Tesla showrooms will be a step back to the metro dealerships of the twenties and thirties, when many dealers were located in glamorous showrooms in the heart of the cities. Locations may change, but salespersons, don't change!