Column: Electric cars charging forward

Consumer Reports gave the Tesla Model S a

Consumer Reports gave the Tesla Model S a stellar rating. (Getty) (Credit: Consumer Reports gave the Tesla Model S a stellar rating. (Getty))

It’s been a wild couple of weeks for Tesla Motors, the rapidly-growing manufacturer of electric cars.

It became a Wall Street darling after its announced its first-ever quarterly profit, driven by significantly better-than-expected sales. But even more importantly, the highly-influential Consumer Reports named the Tesla Model S luxury Sedan the best car it ever tested, with a stunning 99/100 score.

Tesla is still a tiny company. In fact, it’s far away from hitting even 1% of the 15 million+ units per year auto market. With the Model S starting at about $64,000, and running on an electric engine with a limited range of 200 to 265 miles before recharging is required, the current audience for these cars is still fairly small. But keep three things in mind.

First, Tesla plans on introducing lower-priced models in the coming years. And just as we’ve seen with other battery-based technologies, they’re like to become more efficient. But perhaps most importantly, the traditional global automakers won’t be eager to be left behind, given how many were caught off guard by the last alternative-energy revolutionary — the Toyota Prius hybrid.

When I worked for Toyota in 2003-2004, hybrid cars were most definitely not in vogue. I spoke to countless consumers, and even some experts, that insisted hybrids would never go mass-market.

Today, the Prius is now one of the best-selling cars in the United States.

So while the idea of plugging in a car to charge it may seem patently absurd in 2013 — the same was true of hybrids in 2003.

And just look at how things have changed.
 

Tags: BUSINESS

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