Germany's Electric Cars Are Coming for Elon Musk and Tesla

Elon Musk started Tesla Inc. with a goal of accelerating the switch to electric cars by about a decade.

That wish is now catching up with him. Starting with Jaguar’s I-Pace crossover and later this year Audi’s Q6 e-tron, virtually every major carmaker is rolling out stylish, sporty electric vehicles in the mold of his Models S, X and 3. Unlike Tesla, they have roughly a century of experience launching models every few months and can spread development costs across a broad portfolio.

“The vehicles I’ve seen are far superior to anything Tesla has,” Mike Jackson, chief executive officer of U.S. vehicle retailer AutoNation Inc., said on an earnings call Tuesday, referring to German carmakers’ electric lineups. “They are in a massive pivot and shift away from diesel investment into electrification in both pure electric and plug-in hybrid.”

While the unprofitable California-based carmaker, reporting first-quarter earnings later Wednesday, has welcomed competition, it’s coming at a tumultuous time. Production issues for the less expensive Model 3 -- the key to bringing electric vehicles to the masses -- and the company’s cash burn will be the main issues for Tesla’s fervent believers and detractors to chew on. The company burns through more than $6,500 every minute, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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