Established carmakers may scoff at Elon Musk’s firm, but like Apple and the iPhone, it heralds a massive shake-up of the auto industry
Two interesting things happened last week. One was Tesla’s delivery of the first batch of its Model 3, the company’s first “affordable” car. (If you think $35,000, about £26,500 – is affordable, that is.) The second was a “diesel summit” held in Berlin, a meeting where the bosses of Germany’s leading car manufacturers (VW, BMW, Audi, Ford, Porsche and Daimler) got together with ministers to ponder the industrial implications of the emissions-cheating scandal and the decisions of the British and French governments to outlaw petrol cars and vans from 2040.
Although no one in the car industry will say so, diesel technology has been a dead duck since the emissions-cheating scandal erupted, followed by the revelations of how polluted London’s atmosphere has become, with emissions of nitrous fumes from diesels being blamed for much of the problem. And the fallout is already being seen in the sales figures. In January, for example, UK registrations of new diesel cars were 4.3% down on a year ago, while petrol car sales were up by 8.9%. If you’re a rural resident who doesn’t worry too much about the environment or resale value, then you can already grab real bargains in the diesel car market. And for the time being petrol heads can feel (relatively) cleaner than thou. But ultimately, the game is up for the internal combustion engine.
The significance of the new Tesla is that it represents an embodiment of what cars will be from now on