German Automakers Criticized for Not Building Electric Cars ‘Half as Sexy as Tesla’

German Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier is fed up with his country only building frumpy electric cars.

byStef Schrader|
German Automakers Criticized for Not Building Electric Cars ‘Half as Sexy as Tesla’

Hell hath no fury like a Tesla fan, and apparently one sits in a high-ranking government office in Germany. Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier admonished the heads of the German car industry at an artificial intelligence event for building what he sees as un-sexy electric cars.

Altmaier called out Dieter Zetsche, Herbert Diess and Harald Krüger—the leaders of Daimler, Volkswagen, and BMW, respectively—by name in his remarks, as quoted by Der Spiegel and with translation help from Google:

I really wonder when you, Mr. Zetsche, or you, Mr. Diess, or Mr. Krüger of BMW will be able to build an electric car which is only half as sexy as one Tesla. As far as the attractiveness of your e-cars is concerned, you could actually come up with some fresh ideas.

This seems like a weird sticking point, especially given that new Teslas look downright plain to me ever since they ditched the grille. Then there's the laziest dashboard design of all time in the Model 3. It's like someone went, "Yeah, just slap a big tablet in the middle and call it good." I guess the model names do spell out "S3X," but that's all I've got. 

That being said, Tesla still has a certain cachet to it as the company that made it cool to own a completely electric car. The current wave of fast and comfortable electric cars that no longer look or feel like a penalty box with batteries owes a great debt to Tesla, and other companies have been playing catch-up with Tesla on this ever since. 

Yet "sexy" is such a weird thing for Herr Altmaier to get hung up on, given that the Germans now have a number of cool all-electric cars in the pipeline right now, as part of that "playing catch-up" deal. I admit that the BMW i3 is more quirky than svelte, but has he seen the gorgeous Porsche Taycan? Those are on top of the models that look a little more like regular cars, like the Mercedes EQC and Audi E-tron. Not everyone wants or needs flashy Gullwing doors in a daily runabout. 

If anything, it sounds like the momentum may be in the favor of these German car companies playing catch-up to Tesla. With Tesla build quality issues and production delays in the headlines, the idea of buying an electric car from an established automaker sounds pretty good now. 

And hey, looks are subjective! Some of us weirdos even think the Germans' less flashy, less look-at-me-I'm-electric typical design language looks pretty good. But if this minister's rant leads to, say, an electric Porsche 944, I'm all for it.