Since Tesla produced its first car in 2008, dozens of new companies have announced intentions to enter the vehicle market. Some have appeared at auto shows with convincing prototypes. Others were conjured into existence by those seemingly more fluent in HTML than horsepower. We imagine the dawn of the mass-produced automobile 100 years ago was something like this past decade, although Volkswagen, General Motors and Toyota will likely prove to be more entrenched than the horse-and-buggy trade.
Many of these would-be automakers seem to regard Elon Musk as their patron saint and are thus fuelled by a cocktail of electrification, automation and ride-sharing stirred with a dash of megalomaniacal executive demagoguery. But when ‘white space’ in the existing market means tiny mobility pods more suited to a golf course than a highway, it’s no wonder that we’ve also seen an onslaught of aspiring boutique manufacturers pitching ever more audacious exotic supercars.
Indeed, venture capital is a-flowing, searching for the next Tesla (or profitable Tesla). With that kind of chum in the water, the predators, opportunistic feeders and bottom dwellers are all rushing to the surface to take a nibble. But when it can cost billions of dollars for an existing car company to develop one new vehicle, can any of these new entities survive long enough to produce a viable product, let alone celebrate a tin anniversary? Here’s our guide to 20 of the more credible upstarts, with their chances of success rated on a highly scientific scale.