The giant shadow cast by Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) over the motor industry was acknowledged by General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) this week as General Motors CEO Dan Akerson created a team to study the electric vehicle manufacturer. The Tesla Motors shadow is having a massive effect on the car industry, but competitors should be questioning whether or not the shadow of a lion is a cartoon’s mouse around a corner.

Tesla

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) sells a tiny amount of cars, and even optimistic projections for the next few years suggest it will remain a tiny manufacturer for the next few years at least. Why should General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) be afraid of Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA)? The answer usually relies on the buzzword “disruptive.”

Tesla Motors is not Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the company Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is most often compared to. Tesla Motors has released what it calls, by almost all accounts, a fantastic product, but it cannot catch on as fast as the iPhone. There’s several reasons why.

The iPhone was an improvement over previous smart phones on almost every front. The Tesla Model S shares some of those characteristics, the most notable being the cool factor, but it has a lot of disadvantages over regular cars as well. Cars are also much more expensive, making them a riskier purchase and one that consumers are less likely to take a chance on. The Tesla also requires much more expensive, and Tesla unique, infrastructure in order to work. That makes its usefulness geographically reliant.

The Tesla Model S is not the iPhone. What it does it does well, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is not as market disruptive as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The shadow it casts over the industry is bigger than it is itself. General Motors are doing well to study it, if it helps them make better electric cars the market will benefit, but General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is not in crisis mode.

Not there yet

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is an incredible company, but the hype surrounding it has amplified every single thing about the company. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has not changed the world. It may have contributed to a change in the auto market, but it has not turned it on its head.

Tesla is two companies, the small California tech company building a small number of beautiful cars, and a ghost haunting the auto industry and the stock market. As long as Elon Musk and co. manage to keep the two separate, things will be alright. The moment Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) executives mixes up the two, trouble is around the corner.