Tesla cut prices again this morning, and competitors, who have decided to either take the same strategy by slashing prices themselves or have chosen not to play into Elon Musk’s game, are in a weird and awkward position.
Tesla Model S and Model X units were the most recent vehicles in the automaker’s lineup to receive price cuts. While these vehicles only make up roughly 5 percent of Tesla’s overall sales volume based on last year’s sales figures, the price cuts give automakers with competing models another thing to think about.
For startups, there are few that can even think about cutting costs at this point. Companies like Rivian, Lucid, and Lordstown are unable to shave prices currently and at the drop of a hat like Tesla. Every dollar and every sale right now counts, and there is not much wiggle room.
For traditional companies, the wiggle room on pricing for EVs is also extremely small. Ford, for example, while announcing plans to increase production of popular EV models this weekend, is still struggling with availability.
If you went to a Ford, GM, or other legacy dealership right now and tried to order a car, it might be extremely difficult, and people who just bought cars don’t want to see that their vehicle was just subjected to a price cut of thousands of dollars. When Ford cut Mustang Mach-E prices earlier this year, owners who took delivery just before the decreases were not pleased, and the automaker couldn’t do much to appease them.
Tesla’s strengths are plentiful, and they expand across nearly every part of its business. Its charging infrastructure is strong, the company can get you a car in a matter of a few weeks, and its pricing can be adjusted at any moment.
If it needs to adjust prices to make margins a little more appealing to investors and analysts, it can. If it needs to spike demand with a dramatic cut like it did this morning, it can do that too. It’s not a perfect company, though. Service and Customer Communications for Tesla are incredibly weak; it is one of the most publicly-criticized portions of the company. Despite that, people continue to buy Teslas in droves.
With another Tesla price cut, companies are in a serious pickle. Tesla could decide in a week to cut prices again, making consumers more prone to choose their product over another. The advantages go past price, but what that number says is the first thing consumers look at when considering a vehicle. The lower they get, the more attractive they become to consumers.
Why Tesla dropped the prices of the Model S and Model X is unknown, but Gary Black seems to believe the move is to encourage more sales of the flagship vehicles, which, as previously mentioned, do not contribute to the company’s overall sales volume very much.
However, there are other things: Model X vehicles are being equipped with the new Hardware 4 computer, Tesla has tried to get Free Supercharging-equipped cars off the roads, and it could be another way to push sales upward.
Whatever the reasoning is, Tesla put competitors in another weird spot. With the constant price changes that occurred earlier this year, there was already doubt in place about what competitors could do to remain competitive. The most recent adjustment in prices makes things even more difficult and reminds everyone that Tesla is ultimately the king of the hill.