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Tesla and the New Frontier in Electric Car Competition

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Tesla's (TSLA - Get Report) primary claim to fame was -- and still is -- its vastly superior range for an all-electric car: up to 265 miles, depending on the model and level of charge.

All the other car makers are currently mostly in the 75- to 100-mile range for their all-electric cars. For longer-range cars, they use smaller batteries in combination with a gasoline (e.g., Chevrolet Volt or BMW i3) or diesel (e.g., Volvo V70 D6) generator.

The argument as to what's a better long-distance driving solution -- all-electric or range-extender -- will continue to rage for years. Reflective of this, both solutions will also likely thrive in the market for at least another five to eight years, at a minimum for cost reasons.

At some point between 2016 and 2019, however, multiple Tesla competitors will be delivering all-electric cars with ranges from 200 to 300 miles. Of course, you may say that by then Tesla will have moved the competitive needle to 300 to 400 miles.

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Perhaps. But then again, perhaps Tesla's competitors will also have 300- to 400-mile, all-electric cars by 2019 or 2020. The precise number there is not important for this discussion, as you will see below.

Regardless of which company -- Tesla and/or its competitors -- will try to deliver large, luxurious, all-electric cars with well over 300 miles of range, those cars will be expensive and add a lot of weight. There simply comes a point when you need more heavy batteries to transport around the additional heavy batteries. Weight and cost become prohibitive, except perhaps in an electric Rolls-Royce.

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