Taking Tesla Down

One prominent manufacturer is targeting Tesla's biggest weakness and looking to exploit it in three key markets.

One of the simpler principles of manufacturing is matching your company’s supply with a consumer’s demands. And perhaps there is no one better at stimulating demand than Elon Musk.

Musk has made headlines on a number of fronts, but his continued adventures in automotive design and production continue to capture the attention of consumers and Wall Street. Tesla, largely based on the promise and undying optimism of Musk, is now valued at $48 billion.

However, the challenge for Tesla is capitalizing on that demand with the commensurate supply. And one very prominent player sees this as a weakness that they’re all too happy to exploit.

Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes, is ready to go after three key markets targeted by Musk and Tesla: electric SUVs, at-home battery charging, and electric trucks. The primary chink in the armor being Tesla’s manufacturing infrastructure – or lack thereof.

The 83,000 vehicles produced by Tesla last year is a fraction of the total cars, trucks and buses manufactured in Daimler facilities around the world. So, with the demand growing, and the leading protagonist of these technologies just emerging from start-up mode, Daimler has been spending money and talking some trash.

Mercedes took a direct shot at Tesla's solar battery push in May when it developed a partnership with Vivint Solar to produce at-home solar battery chargers. This comes on the heels of Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity last November.

And, while Tesla has their Gigafactory ramping up battery cell production to hit full scale by 2020, Daimler recently broke ground on their second battery plant, which should begin production by July of next year.

Similarly, while Tesla’s Model X SUV should hit the roads last next year with a 295-mile battery range, Mercedes is responding with their Generation EQ in 2019, which will carry a 310-mile range.

Finally, at about the same time Tesla is looking to unveil an electric semi concept this fall, Daimler will have a limited series of electric trucks already on the road.

Whereas Musk has created the demand, Daimler executives have been vocal in doubting his ability to match their ability to supply these demands.