For decades the auto industry has centered around Detroit. General Motors , Ford , and Chrysler are located there and the innovation and design that drivers love was developed there.
Today, it's an upstart in California that has the auto industry rethinking everything it's doing. Maybe the internal combustion engine isn't the future? Maybe you can own your distribution network? And maybe if you make a product that people love, they'll pay enough to make you a handsome profit?
Maybe Tesla Motors is the next standard in the auto industry?
Turning Detroit on its head
The first big impact Tesla is having on Detroit is proving you can make money selling electric vehicles. We know that the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt weren't financial successes, and upstarts like Fisker are in serious financial trouble. Tesla has shown the auto industry that consumers are willing to buy electric vehicles in droves if you include the right features.
What Tesla has done better than any other company was focus on performance and range. The Model S can go up to 265 miles on a single charge, about five times the distance of the Volt and LEAF. Ford's Focus Electric is improving range but still only goes about 80 miles. This gives Tesla a huge lead on the competition.
If you doubted the quality or performance of the Model S then you may want to reconsider after it was names Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" for 2013.
Performance on the bottom line
Tesla's surprise $11.2 million profit in the first quarter is the major reason the stock has skyrocketed in the past few weeks. This incredible performance, despite making just 20,000 vehicles per year, is what makes Tesla a standard in the auto industry. CEO Elon Musk is expecting a 25% gross margin once production ramps up, and that would be almost unheard of in the auto industry.
Below I've compiled the gross and net margins of some of Tesla's biggest competitors and none get close to 25%.
General Motors Auto
BMW Group Auto
Source: Company earnings releases. Note: Net margin is for full company, which includes finance units.
Fueling the future of the auto industry
Tesla isn't just powering its own line of EVs, it's powering a new line of EVs from Toyota and Mercedes Benz as well. The Rav4 EV is in production and the Mercedes Benz B-Class EV is in development. If these two companies need to rely on an upstart like Tesla for electric power trains it shows just how far it is ahead of the competition.
Tesla is the new standard of the auto industry because of its technology, performance, and superior financials. The question is: Can Detroit catch up?
How high can Tesla Motors go?
Near-faultless execution has led Tesla Motors to the brink of success, but the road ahead remains a hard one. Despite progress, a looming question remains: Will Tesla be able to fend off its big-name competitors? The Motley Fool answers this question and more in our most in-depth Tesla research available for smart investors like you. Thousands have already claimed their own premium ticker coverage, and you can gain instant access to your own by clicking here now.
The article Tesla Motors Is the New Automotive Standard originally appeared on Fool.com.
Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford, General Motors, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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