As the electric car maker’s market value has soared in the past year, the 10 year old company could even soon take over the 105 year old auto maker – a situation that called GM to action.
With its shares and market value rising this year by 470%, Tesla is now worth $23 billion, while General Motors only surged a more modest (although very healthy) 25%, to $50 billion. If nothing goes wrong – like let’s say more Model S cars catching fire – next year the biggest American automaker could be overshadowed by a constructor that only builds electric cars and so far has only one model on the market.
Faced with this prospect, GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson and Vice Chairman Steve Girsky assembled an internal task force – dubbed “Team Tesla,” – to study Tesla’s playbook, test-drive its best-selling Model S and figure out what lessons might be applied. The group includes members from product planning, engineering, manufacturing and sales.
“History is littered with companies that knew what was coming and couldn’t do anything about it,” Girsky, 51, said in an interview in New York last week. “We can ignore it and cover it up, or we can figure out what we’re going to do about it.”
Also, in an unusually frank praise for a competitor, Girsky said Tesla was “revolutionizing the business model … not just how you put an EV (electric vehicle) together (but) how you go to market with something like this.”
GM is not likely to copy Tesla’s innovative retail system, which relies more on shopping malls and social media than on traditional dealerships that are protected by state franchise laws.
So far, General Motors has focused on such technical aspects as Tesla’s low-cost battery pack, the exceptional 200-mile-plus range of the Model S, and the company’s out-of-the-box plan to provide free electricity to owners at an extensive network of EV charging stations.
Meanwhile, Tesla executives say the company’s small size and entrepreneurial mindset, including a much higher tolerance for risk, have enabled it to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that often cripples larger, older firms such as GM.
) - Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 - filed under General Motors
. Image credit: .
Discuss: GM takes Tesla very seriously, with “Team Tesla”