Traditional automakers are now taking on disruptive technologies like driverless cars
Traditional automakers—biggies like Toyota, Volkswagen, and the pedigreed like Daimler, BMW, etc, all included—initially saw companies like Tesla, that exclusively makes high-end electric cars, and Google and Apple, that focus on driverless car technology, as fringe players. But now, it is quite clear that these companies could well displace the Daimlers and BMWs in a few years if the latter don’t go beyond what they have been making and selling so far. To be sure, it is not that the market for their products is shrinking—business research firm IHS predicts the global light automotive vehicles segment will continue on the growth path it has been charting since the last five years, with sales increasing by 2.4% in 2015 over 2014. At the same time, the market for newer, greener and more technology-dependent cars is emerging out of nascency while the concept of vehicle ownership itself is getting challenged by companies like Uber.
It is in this backdrop that Porsche has introduced its all-electric luxury performance sedan, Mission E. The Mission E, with 800-volt batteries that reach 80% charge in just 15 minutes, is a direct challenge to Tesla’s Model S, the market leader since 2012, that has 375-volt batteries that reach 80%-charge in 45 minutes. Similarly, as per a Reuters report, Mercedes-Benz sees business potential in providing on-demand limousine services through autonomous cars—and with that, take on Uber (which is also planning to launch driverless cars), Apple and Google. Purveyors of disruptive technologies—automotives are just one sector—will challenge established products and business models. But if existing players, across businesses, up the ante like a Porsche has done, the world will be richer for choices.