Could Tesla go the way of DMC and Delorean?

It’s certainly interesting that as we approach the 30th anniversary of the film “Back to the Future” which featured the Delorean, a vehicle recognized as being highly advanced, yet it bombed in the US market that Tesla has announced for its upcoming Model X vehicle “falcon wing” doors.

The falcon wing doors are very similar in design to the “gull wing” doors of the Delorean and the comparisons do not end there. The Tesla Model X and upcoming Model S are considered futuristic, using the latest in automotive design in the luxury saloon market while the Delorean was also considered futuristic, using advanced automotive designs that represented the future of the auto industry.

Although Tesla may not share the fate of the Delorean DMC, there are certainly enough similarities to cause a certain amount of pause. However, there are also striking differences as well.

Why Tesla May Succeed

There are many reasons why Tesla may indeed succeed where Delorean failed.

Backing: Unlike John Delorean who went out on a limb in financing and producing the DMC, Tesla has more solid, overall backing which will help hold up the company even if it does not get off to a great start. The DMC actually had to cut some corners in production, resulting in a vehicle that was less than what was promised and the backers quickly left. Tesla has put too much time, effort and energy into creating a high quality vehicle.

Market: Another reason why the DMC failed was its pricing. It was generally too high for the standard consumer market which was needed to keep the line going. Plus, it was not really a high performance or a luxury car as well, so when mainstream customers shied away from it, the DMC quickly faded away.

The Tesla on the other hand is geared towards the luxury saloon market, in which it is well priced and offers many advantages over just having an electrical engine.

Why Tesla May Go the way of the Delorean DMC

delorean2However, despite all of these advantages, there are also reasons to assume that Tesla may be in trouble as well.

Too Narrow a Niche Market: Although priced for the luxury saloon crowd, that may be too narrow a market for Tesla to sustain itself. It may very well be that Tesla will have to produce a vehicle competitive with standard consumer models in order for the company to turn a profit.

Safety Concerns: The video of a recent fire in the battery pack of a Tesla Model S in Seattle, Washington went viral, acquiring over 300,000 views in just two days and sparking rumors that it may not be safe. Despite rigorous testing and the unusual nature of the fire, that perception of the battery-powered vehicles being susceptible to fire may keep away enough buyers to make it unsustainable.

About the only thing which is certain is that it will take a few years before we will know true fate of Tesla and the vehicles that they produce. Time is the only true test of any auto-maker and Tesla may very well be a roaring success or dismal failure.