Yesterday Ford associated itself with Tesla as much as possible, saying it has the capability to build a Model S and has successfully disassembled and reassembled one. A Lego moment! Moreover, Ford is considering using Tesla’s open-source patents to build a Ford Model S type thing.
All every startling, if you haven’t been reading much. Here are similar developments over the past few months. While nobody has actually taken steps to build a “Tesla,” the chit-chat is hardly new. A brief history of Tesla copycatting, both hostile and friendly:
Chapter 1: Hans Fisker, a designer hired by Tesla for its WhiteStar project, runs off with Tesla’s playbook and starts his own company. Tesla sues and loses. Ultimately, of course, Fisker loses. The company’s new owner, Lu Guanqiu, vows to battle Tesla, but with what weaponry?
Chapter 2: BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu says his company could easily crank out a Tesla.
Chapter 3: Tesla opens its patents and encourages imitation.
Chapter 4: Nissan and BMW nibble the bait.
Chapter 5: Mahindra says it might want in also.
Chapter 6: Ford says a Model S type vehicle fits its product philosophy — though one could argue that a company’s product philosophy is reflected in actual products, not fantasies. This would make Tesla the sole company whose product philosophy includes high-performance EVs with no gas-engine fig leaf.
Lest we forget, Tesla has already upgraded the Model S multiple times over, software and hardware, since this chatter began. Assuming Tesla continues this manic pace, any “clone” from another automaker will be severely outdated by the time it reaches production. A stale imitation would only solidify Tesla as the ultimate tech-forward car company, or, repeating TeslaMondo’s favorite analogy, the Beatles in a world of Monkees.