The past few decades have been littered with failed auto companies. Over my lifetime, I remember such makes as Edsel, Studebaker, Packard, Rambler, AMC, DeLorean, Saturn, Plymouth, Pontiac and Oldsmobile. While there are no doubt used cars from each make to be had, although some would be very old, there are various and sundry reasons why these vehicles have joined the dustbins of history.
This is not to say they were necessarily bad cars. But changing tastes, poor planning and marketing, lackluster designs and, in the end, poor sales, helped hasten their departures. Sometimes manufacturers had trouble differentiating one brand from another. It’s hard, for example, to define how Oldsmobile differed from Buick, even though both were supposed to represent premium brands, a step below Cadillac. And, yes, I realize that some of you can probably explain in exquisite detail what made one brand distinct from another, or maybe the distinction blurred over the years due to corporate “badge engineering,” in which parts, such as engines and body frames, are shared among several makes.
So when Tesla Motors was founded in 2003, there were skeptics aplenty, and there still are. In those days, the promise of electric cars that could travel hundreds of miles before they needed a recharge was a misguided fantasy. The closest you came was a hybrid vehicle, and the standard bearer was (and is) the Toyota Prius. It used both a conventional gasoline-powered engine and an electric engine, working together to enhance fuel economy.
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