This is the only real way to a gearhead’s heart.
Starting a new automotive brand is a task so difficult, it could be compared to intensive surgery. There must be a clear plan, a tactic of market insertion, and a strategy to ward off attempts to destroy all of the hard work. Tesla’s particular tactic of insertion was much different than what other automakers typically do. Instead of starting at the bottom and fighting hard to make it to the top like Kia and Hyundai have done, Tesla began at the very top and is working its way to the masses one preorder at a time.
As a result, Tesla’s current brand image is that of the intelligent, edgy, and entrepreneurial luxury brand, but if it continues to swim for profits downstream, this could change. That’s why Tesla needs to find a way to maintain its image as a top-tier automaker while it sells its entry-level cars cheaply. There are many ways to do this, but the best for both the brand and for us enthusiasts would be to build a world-beating supercar. Most car companies that start out selling cheap passenger cars and work up into the luxury segments usually create a sub brand. As any consumer knows, half of the point of a high-end good is to brandish the brand name and cause unnecessary envy.
That’s why Toyota created Lexus and Hyundai made Genesis because after all, who wants to pay Mercedes money for the same badge that’s on the hood of the high school dropout? The practice isn’t limited to the cheaper brands though, high-end brands like Ferrari have done the same. Back in the 1960s, Ferrari wanted to sell cars to sports car lovers who hadn’t made it yet, so it created the Dino brand. However, as we are quickly finding out, the auto giants that manage to build high-class luxury cars and entry-level cheapo commuters know that both vehicles can fit under one marquee. Ford and Audi are two perfect examples. At the bottom of each brand are cars with starting prices that a stable entry-level income could afford.
However at the top of the food chain are supercars that bear the same badges as the entry-level offerings and still have world-beating ability, instant recognition, and respect from the wealthy and privileged. In terms of branding, Tesla has no excuse. In fact, it stands to gain from building such a fierce machine. When it introduced itself to the world, Tesla gave us the Roadster, a car that even by Elon Musk’s standards, was a failure. A new supercar bearing Nikola’s last name could not only remedy the errs of young Tesla’s ways, it would show just how far the brand has gone in its short lifespan. But how far does Tesla need to take this supercar to make a point? In our minds, the sky is the limit. Tesla should beat Ferrari and McLaren if possible.
With the fate of the internal combustion engine in a state of vague certainty, even McLaren is considering an all-electric hypercar. While it wrestles with the engineering headache behind that endeavor, Tesla has already proved that electric cars can be some of the best in the world. This places the EV maker in prime position to cement that claim with a Ferrari killer. In terms of technology, Tesla already has most of what it needs. The Model S P90D presently puts supercars to shame, so all that needs to happen is a bit of tweaking. Packaging an improved P90D electric drivetrain into a lightweight chassis that loses the functional yet bloated aesthetic of Tesla’s other offerings would mean that most of the job is finished.
The rest would have to come from upgraded battery cooling capabilities, active aerodynamics, and the addition of space age composites and alloys from the labs of Space X. All wheel drive, the ease of controlling torque output at individual wheels, and Tesla’s user-friendly ergonomics and driving sensation would be all that the Tesla supercar would need to start the next chapter of the supercar. Given that Teslas are already a favorite of country club members, a good-looking supercar would be a hit for this segment. The rest of the world can drive around happily in their Model 3s, but at the end of the day, just like most Ford owners would rather be driving a GT, Tesla owners could have the Roadster 2.0 to aspire to. Tesla rendering by Khyzyl Saleem.