Photo by Jacob Rank on Unsplash

Cars aren’t smartphones.

Like a lot of people I watched the launch of the Tesla 3. What Elon Musk has accomplished with Tesla in just 11 years truly is impressive. But what impressed me most wasn’t the Tesla 3. To be fair, there are things I actually like about the car. I love the large iPad-like command center and over-the-air software updates should be standard in the automotive industry by now. But in the long run, it’s still just a car. Sure, Tesla is currently winning the range game. But that won’t be for long. BMW, Nissan, Chevy and others are closing that gap very quickly.

What’s most impressive to me is how Elon Musk successfully marketed the Tesla 3 the way Apple markets the iPhone. I think Musk has convinced consumers the ownership experience of a Tesla is pretty much the same as an iPhone. Tesla (automobiles at least) tapped into our cultural consumer norms, i.e. accepting planned obsolescence — think iPhone — low cost of ownership, frequent upgrades with little to no maintenance — to persuade consumers a $35,000+ product with a higher cost of ownership, infrequent exchange period and necessary maintenance (yes, even a Tesla needs maintenance and repairs) is the same thing.

In 5 years when range anxiety is a thing of the past and charging stations are ubiquitous the Tesla 3 could find itself in unfamiliar territory; namely, pre-owned car lots where potential owners don’t sleep on the sidewalk for the doors to open and say things like “throw in an extra set of floor mats and you’ve got a deal!”.