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[video] Detroit Auto Show: Sizing Up Tesla's Competition

Or perhaps they don't have any serious plans to compete directly with Tesla any time soon. In this category I put Ford, Toyota and Honda, to mention the bigger ones. Huge surprises are possible, but we just don't know and we sure don't have any signs from these companies.

Other companies have been vocal about their devotion to plug-in hybrids. The VW group is at the top of this list, and Volvo has been clear as crystal as well.

Toyota, Honda and Hyundai believe they will assume leadership in hydrogen fuel-cell cars. Mercedes is also talking about this but hasn't given a date for a specific car to enter the market yet.

This leaves us with BMW and GM. Both companies speak respectfully and admirably about Tesla. They have driven the Model S and they love it. There is zero doubt in my mind that they will go full bore against Tesla in some forms yet to be unveiled.

This is not the space to reiterate how GM's and BMW's current offerings such the Volt, the ELR and the i3 are interesting and relevant already today, in terms of being partial Tesla alternatives. The larger point is that these are only the first shots being fired, with far more to come in 2016 and 2017. 2015 will likely provide us with more details on what these new cars could be.

All in all, Tesla has at least one year's worth of smooth sailing ahead on the competitive front. The Chevy Volt 2.0 and a BMW i4, i5, i6 and i7 will likely become Tesla's main worries before any others show up in 2018 and beyond.

What looks like a somewhat benign competitive landscape for the next year or two is probably an incremental positive for Tesla. Small wonder the stock is up.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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