A Primer: Electric Car Competition For Tesla 2017-2020

| About: Tesla Motors (TSLA)


All-electric car competition with 200 miles of range or more, 2017-2020: A comprehensive list for the U.S. market.

General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, Porsche, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Volkswagen and Infiniti in various stages by 2020.

Other automakers later or otherwise uncertain with less known detail: BMW, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and FCA.

Privately held companies such as NextEV, Faraday Future and Lucid Motors: If they make it off the ground, they too!

The margin pressure coming from total industry competition ought to make Tesla’s valuation a lot lower than today’s.

I keep being asked by people inside and outside the automotive industry alike as to a comprehensive list of all-electric cars that will hit the market to compete against Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) over the next 1-3 years. Ladies and gentlemen, here is this list for which you all have been asking.

Definitions of electrified cars, plug-ins, etc., vary from context to context. All cars compete with each other to some extent - four wheels, take me from home to work and back every day - whether they are fueled by gasoline, diesel, hydrogen, natural gas, or have small or large battery packs.

In this case, I will be dealing with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs or just EVs for short) that are racing to achieve ranges of around 200 miles or more, in some cases 300-400 miles. Why? Because that's the narrowest definition of what Tesla is offering and will be offering during this time period.

If I were to also include plug-in hybrids, this list would be dramatically much longer, as several automakers already offer each a long list of those, especially the German automakers.

The starting point: Right now, February 2017

The only 100% direct competitor to Tesla in this narrowest of definition is the Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Bolt. It has 238 miles of range, fits five adults, and starts at $37,495. It's available in no more than five U.S. states and two countries right now, but should be available also in 50 states and Europe by September 2017.

Late 2017: Honda and (probably) Nissan

Honda (NYSE:HMC) is launching the Clarity EV in late 2017, and besides the body of the car (inside and out) we know essentially zero about the essential statistic of the car: Its battery capacity. I have not even heard the vaguest credible rumor on the matter. One would think that 60 kWh would be the absolute minimum, both to compete with the market leader Chevrolet Bolt as well as to hit that magic 200-mile range. The Honda Clarity is a larger car than the Bolt, so it really should be able to fit a battery that is larger than 60 kWh, but we just have no idea at this point.

Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) has said nearly nothing about the replacement for the LEAF, other than that it is coming "soon." It also has suggested that it will not give this replacement any longer advance warning to the public than absolutely necessary given that it would kill sales of the existing LEAF. Nissan showed a concept car version of what is believed to be the LEAF replacement in Tokyo in October 2015. It had a 60 kWh battery and therefore likely something close to the Bolt's 238-mile range. However, the specs of the "LEAF 2.0" are completely unknown.

Mid-2018: Jaguar and (probably) Audi

Magna (NYSE:MGA) starts production of the Jaguar I-Pace in Austria in early 2018, which should mean it will be in U.S. dealerships around mid-2018. It will have a battery of around 90 kWh and Jaguar has provided a most conservative range estimate of "at least" 220 miles. Logic dictates that it will be at least 240-260.

Audi (OTCPK:AUDVF) starts production of the eTron in Brussels, Belgium, sometime around mid-2018. The precise timing remains a little unclear. The eTron is said to be available with 70, 95 and 105 kWh battery packs. Its overall size and shape is very similar to the Jaguar I-Pace. The main difference is that it employs two electric motors for the rear wheels instead of one as with all other cars of this ilk.

Late 2018 or early 2019: Mercedes

The Mercedes EQ starts production in late 2018 or very early 2019 in Bremen, Germany. It is of similar size and shape as the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi eTron. Mercedes has not said anything too specific about the battery capacity, but there is talk about 300 miles of range. That would imply something close to 100 kWh given the taller crossover body style.

Mid-2019: Volvo, Porsche and Hyundai/Kia

The first Volvo (OTC:VOLAF) EV for the mass market should enter production around the middle of 2019. It is not clear in which factory it will be made. However, the Volvo SPA (scalable product architecture) cars should be able to be produced in all of Volvo's five factories by that time - Sweden, Belgium, US and two in China.

Hyundai/Kia: Going beyond the Hyundai (OTC:HYMPY) Ioniq EV (and an eventual Kia (OTC:KIMTF) Niro sister EV), it is no secret that Hyundai is working furiously to bring out a much longer range EV. Its shape and other essentials are unknown, except it, like so many others, pretty much needs to hit that magic 60 kWh battery.

Porsche (OTCPK:POAHY) brings the Mission-E around the middle of 2019. Much has already been written about it, but think of it as an electric Panamera with seating for four adults. If you are going to drive 25 laps around a large racetrack, or drive the Nurburgring, one might suspect it will be the fastest four-seat EV.

2020: Ford (NYSE:F), Volkswagen and Infiniti

Ford has announced that it will bring to market a small SUV crossover with over 300 miles of range in 2020. We don't know much beyond that. That kind of range would imply at least 100 kWh worth of a battery pack.

Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY) brings to market its first purpose-built electric car in 2020. It will spawn no fewer than 30 (not a typo) EVs by 2025. The first car is the spiritual stable-mate to the Golf.

Infiniti has finally "caved" and committed to launch a luxury car EV in 2020. We know next to nothing about it, except it is likely to fit with Infiniti's overall design philosophy. It will obviously benefit from Nissan's most extensive experience in EVs, including the LEAF replacement we are likely to see within only months from now. The Infiniti version would more likely have something around the 100 kWh battery in order to be competitive at that time.

What about NextEV, Lucid Motors and Faraday Future?

They are privately held and are on paths to deliver cars by the first half of 2019. However, we will see which - if any - of these companies will have survived by then.

What about BMW (OTCPK:BMWYY), Toyota (NYSE:TM), Subaru, Mazda (OTCPK:MZDAY) and FCA (NYSE:FCAU)?

They are either showing up after 2020 (in almost all cases 2021) or we just know way too little about what they're doing in terms of a specific 200-300+ mile practical EV.

What about General Motors beyond the Bolt EV?

We know nothing about what GM has planned beyond the Bolt EV. We can expect some sort of a variant that will have all-wheel drive and eventually there will be more bodies for GM EVs. GM has said that the Bolt EV is only the first in a major EV offensive over time. However, there is no meaningful detail on which to hang a specific predictive hat.

Summary: Competition abound

Unlike in years past, when talk was cheap, one gets the sense that there is almost zero chance that these cars described above will not come to fruition. Obviously, they are not immune to change, but most of these are on development programs that are more than well underway - in many cases substantially completed and very close to production. Whatever Tesla will lack in the coming years, ample competition isn't it. Like it or not, that has got to be a key part of a short thesis.

Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: At the time of submitting this article for publication, the author was short TSLA, and long GM and F. However, positions can change at any time. The author regularly attends new vehicle launches, press conferences and equivalent, hosted by most major automakers.

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