2019 Tech Predictions: Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes Challenge Tesla's EV Range

The market is about to get a lot more crowded.

Tesla is about to face some stiff competition. While the Elon Musk-fronted automaker is still set to stun in the new year — thanks to the international expansion of the Model 3 and the launch of the Model Y — competitors like Jaguar and Audi are about to give the firm a run for its money. Inverse predicts that these cars will offer consumers a strong alternative that could result in a measurable weakening of Tesla’s market share.

It’s a big moment for the electric car industry, many of which have struggled with problems like range anxiety, while the $79,500 Model X SUV’s boasted range of 237 miles. Of the new electric SUVs coming to market, the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is perhaps the most impressive, with a 90kWh battery offering 240 miles per charge for $69,500. The Audi e-tron is another SUV offering 95kWh and around 230 miles of range starting at $74,800. Mercedes-Benz is also stepping up its game, with production set to start next year on the EQC with over 200 miles range at an undetermined price.

We’re reporting on 19 predictions for 2019. This is #11.

“Once these competitors truly launch their full-electric vehicles, range will no longer be a differentiating factor — all EVs will have nearly 300 miles of range. Instead, companies will compete on other factors that traditional OEMs simply have not competed on before,” Arcady Sosinov, CEO of mobile electric vehicle charging system FreeWire, tells Inverse. “Autonomy will be a major selling point, and Tesla is years ahead of anyone else. On the other end of the spectrum, interior design, comfort, and entertainment systems will become more important than ever. It’s a good time to be a consumer.”

Tesla Faces Tough Challengers

The big question is what sort of effect this will have on Tesla’s market share. The Model 3 ranked as the best-selling American car in the month of September in the United States, and in the previous month it took all three top spots in electric vehicle sales. It’s still a small player in the grand scheme of things, though: the automaker has produced just under 500,000 cars in its lifetime, a small slither compared to the 10 million cars General Motors produces each year.

“It is inevitable that these competitors do start to chip away at Tesla, of note their upcoming deployments are the first to actually be competitive with Tesla from a vehicle cost and characteristic perspective,” Scott Shepard, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, tells Inverse. “Given that, Tesla has a pretty big lead on the competition because of its supercharger network. We do expect they’ll lose some market share next year, but they are still going to lead on PEV sales.”

The Audi e-tron.
The Audi e-tron.

Tesla also needs to be careful about automakers offering unpexteced advantages. While the supercharger network enables users to get on the road at speed, it cannot depend on buyer lock-in to keep consumers on board.

“Where Tesla may struggle, is that these vehicle brands are likely to adopt the same fast-charging standard (CCS) whereas Tesla uses its own proprietary charging standard,” Shiv Patel, research analyst with ABI Research, tells Inverse. “If the industry starts to move towards one charging standard, to help reduce complexity for consumers as well as bring down infrastructure costs for charging providers then how will Tesla adopt its current strategy?”

It seems the company is aware of these potential advantages. In Europe, Tesla has already made plans to ship the Model 3 with a more standard CCS charger.

A Flourishing Market

Of course, there may be enough room for all as the market expands. EV Volumes revealed in a recent report that there were 3.3 million electric cars on the road in 2017, a figure set to rise to 5.4 million in 2018. That’s relatively small compared to the 72 million cars produced globally in 2016. But while electric cars are a small slither of the market for now, GlobalData predicts a 15.6 percent growth rate in global annual electric car sales, moving from 1.1 million cars sold in 2017 to three million in the year 2022.

“I think the launch of Electric Vehicles by well recognised vehicle brands will be a good thing for the Electric Vehicle market overall,” says Patel. “Electric vehicles are still viewed by many consumers as a gimmick, not a serious competitor to the diesel or petrol engine. For instance, we expect only around 4.3% of all vehicles on the road in the USA in 2025, to be Electric Vehicles. The launch of electric vehicles by Volkswagen and Daimler, two top selling premium vehicle brands may force those consumers to start thinking differently.”

2019 Tech Predictions: What Inverse Thinks

This year was good for Tesla, having pulled itself out of a tough situation with the July 2017 launch of the Model 3 and subsequent “production hell.” But with Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes all set to entice consumers with similar promises of high range and energy efficiency, Inverse predicts that Tesla will move from being the undisputed king of electric cars to a key player in a more crowded market.

Related video: Jaguar Unveils Its Waymo Self-Driving I-Pace

Media via Audi