Ahead of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Tesla Motors announced that it had shipped 50,000 luxury electronic cars in 2015, including 17,400 in the fourth quarter.
This represents real growth. The company's Q4 deliveries were 48% higher than the next most profitable quarter, demonstrating that Musk's decision to increase production was warranted. While Tesla isn't alone in the electronic vehicle (EV) industry, its 'Model S' puts it in a unique position; it's currently the only widely known luxury electric car.
Tesla's unique position, however, is set to be challenged. Faraday Future - an electronic car group backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting- revealed its new concept car, the FFZero1 at the CES 2016. Nicknamed the 'Tesla Killer', the car can exceed 200mph, and can go from zero to 60mph in less than three seconds. The car's appearance is striking, and has been described as a cross between a Corvette and the Batmobile.
The company has already attracted over $1 billion in investment, set to go towards a three-million square foot manufacturing plant in Las Vegas. Faraday Future's CEO - and incidentally a former engineer at Tesla Motors - was keen to heap praise on his former employer: 'Tesla and Elon Musk have created something we should all applaud them for.' Adding that it would be a couple of years before his company’s car would be ready for shipment.
That two year timeframe could be an issue for Faraday Future. Brooke Crothers, Contributor at Forbes states: 'The challenge is [for Faraday Futures], in a couple of years, the Tesla Motors Model X crossover will be a maturing platform and pouring out of Tesla factories.' In addition to that, - the first of its cars to be targeted at the mass market, priced at $35,000 - should also be available by then, adding another revenue stream.
We shouldn't forget that other major automotive manufacturers are investing billions of dollars in electronic cars. In December 2015, for example, Ford announced that it would invest $4.5 billion in electronic cars, with 13 models planned for delivery by 2020. BMW and Volkswagen have also invested similar amounts. For these reasons, and until Faraday Future has realized its concept car, it's difficult to measure what kind of impact it's going to have on the industry.
What is clear, however, is that Faraday Future has ambitious plans. At the CES 2016, Yueting claimed that there would a smartphone doc in the steering wheel, and that its Variable Platform Architecture could, as mentioned by Brooke Crothers in Forbes, 'crank out everything from FFZero1-like cars to SUVs to even a pickup truck'.
The billions of dollars invested in the EV industry shows how much promise it holds. Whether Faraday can live up to its 'Tesla Killer' nickname will ultimately depend on the progress both Tesla and automotive manufactures make in the next couple of years. Their presence, however, will act as a reminder that competition will be fierce once the market has matured.