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Tesla may not be as far ahead in electric cars as we think, say analyst and dealer CEO

Key Points
  • Within the next year or two "we'll see incredible electric vehicles from every manufacturer," AutoNation chief Mike Jackson predicts.
  • Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch says he would agree with that.
  • "There's been a huge amount of technology investment" from manufacturers in Europe and the U.S., Colin Rusch says.
As long as Tesla continues to make progress the stock will move higher: Oppenheimer's Colin Rusch

Tesla may not have that big of a lead over U.S. and European manufacturers in electric car technology, agreed Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch.

He was asked what he thought about comments earlier this week from AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson who said within the next year or two "we'll see incredible electric vehicles from every manufacturer."

"Not these modified things that are half and half but real genuine all-electric vehicles that are attractive, dynamic, affordable, fun to drive," Jackson said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. "We've passed a tipping point on electrification. It's coming and it's coming around the world."

Rusch said on the program Thursday: "I would agree with that."

"There's been a huge amount of technology investment on behalf of the major OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] in Europe and the U.S. along with Tesla. It's a very secret time for that technology," said Rusch, a senior research analyst and managing director at Oppenheimer.

"People are doing testing, not sharing data, and the actual performance of these vehicles is really uncertain right now except for the folks who see this inside," he added.

Jackson's prediction may not come to pass that soon.

Last week, a Japanese daily newspaper reported Toyota aims to begin selling in 2022 an electric car powered by a new type of battery that significantly increases driving range and reduces recharging time. Other automakers such as BMW are working on developing all-solid-state batteries, eyeing mass production in the next 10 years.

Shares of Tesla were higher in premarket trading Thursday, one day after the company reported a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss, boosted by revenue that nearly doubled. Tesla's stock has gained 52 percent since the start of the year.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on a conference call following the earnings release said "people should absolutely have zero concern" about the company's previously announced targets for the new, cheaper Model 3 electric sedan. Analysts have expressed concerns about Tesla meeting its targets.

Rusch said as long as Tesla continues to make progress on targets, the stock will move higher. "What they have done is pretty impressive despite the very aggressive targets that they put out for them," he added

Watch: AutoNation CEO: Auto sales slump caused by shift in car buyers from new to nearly new vehicles

AutoNation CEO: Auto sales slump caused by shift in car buyers from new to 'nearly new' vehicles

— CNBC's Robert Ferris and Reuters contributed to this report.

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