Lesson here for successful (today) incumbent market leaders in all industries. Disruption comes gradually, gradually and then suddenly as VW panics and Tesla advances.
"By most performance measures, electric drivetrains have long been inferior to internal combustion engines. They were also deemed to represent much less of an engineering challenge, a commodity that the reigning powers of the industry would be able to switch to easily. There seemed little advantage in being first. But this is starting to look like it might be another of Mr Christensen’s disruptive technologies. Despite the big carmakers’ confidence, they have yet to produce electric vehicles that can match Tesla’s in terms of energy efficiency — or performance per dollar. The complacency in senior auto ranks is starting to turn to panic. The head of Volkswagen resorted to reading the riot act to his senior managers two weeks ago for not moving fast enough to counter the threat, warning that the carmaker risked being disrupted in much the way Nokia had been by the launch of the iPhone."
Richard Waters FT 31st Jan 2020
How long will it take for the incumbents to catch up? Gene Berdichevsky, one of Tesla’s first employees and now head of battery company Sila Nanotechnologies, says carmakers have seriously underestimated the many different innovations that go into the batteries and other design aspects that enhance performance in electric cars.