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GM Looking to Tesla for Inspiration

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On: Sat, Jul 20, 2013 at 1:05PM | By: Elizabeth Puckett

GM Looking to Tesla for Inspiration

The same company that eviscerated the EV1, General Motors, fears that their lack of original innovation could cause them to be left behind in the auto industry. General Motors’ CEO, Dan Akerson, has formed a special team of employees to study Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors to try to find some footsteps they could follow when it comes to making electric cars that people actually want to drive.

Following an announcement that GM would delay the re-launch of their most fuel efficient model, the Chevy Cruze, we now know that GM is feeling very threatened by underdog innovators like Tesla Motors. This new initiative to study what makes Tesla so successful, even while facing opposition in certain states, is very smart because, at the end of the day, Tesla is a real threat to GM.

General Motors Vice Chairman, Steve Girsky, gave word that his boss, Akerson, wants to know how such an underdog in the game like Tesla became such a competitor with GM, the country's largest auto maker. Girksy also revealed that the GM CEO thinks that Tesla could majorly disrupt sales of the General Motors brand if they don’t watch out, citing that history is full of scenarios where big companies were brought down by innovators.

General Motors’ execs are probably still kicking themselves for canning their prior electric car development programs and killing off their innovative brand, Saturn.

The major issue General Motors faces isn’t so much Tesla itself, but the idea of Tesla, and why GM is failing to compete when it comes to innovation. GM has historically been an innovator in the market, but is really falling behind when it comes to electric car technology & design.

In the 90s when the EV1 team was getting underway, GM may have made some fatal errors within the company that held back development of the model as a GM brand. The headquarters for the EV1 team were separate from the rest of the company and this may have led to isolation from the idea of General Motors. This same scenario played out when Saturn was also isolated from the brand. GM cites that the isolation culture within the company is no longer an issue; they have made grand efforts in the recent years to make all brands an integral component of the company.

If General Motors wants to know how Tesla has managed to become so innovative in the industry, it might be important for them to explore their history and process as opposed to just the product that’s being sold today. The culture and environment of the Tesla company has undoubtably opened many doors for innovation in the electric car industry.


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