Archives for Elon Musk

Why Tesla will need more loans to make it through 2013





It’s fun to bet against Elon Musk and Tesla – that’s the best reason we can find for so many people doing it even though the man, his company and his cars are still here and still very popular. The latest name inscribed in the column labeled “Skeptical of Tesla” is John Shinal at Market Watch who, in year-end commentary on Tesla’s financials, says that the “carmaker’s financials are reminiscent of a dot-com’s.” He does not mean that in the good way.



To be fair, Shinal isn’t exactly betting against Tesla, he’s saying that if you check the bottom lines, the only thing keeping Tesla alive is the hundreds of millions in Federal Department of Energy loans it has received. Based on its filings, he says the company has less than six months of cash on hand, hasn’t produced as many cars as it promised and had to lower its revenue forecast for 2012, has had a “year of net losses and negative operating cash flow,” and was underwater by at least $37 million at the end of the third quarter.



But Shinal’s not done there, summarizing Tesla as an operation with “a poor habit of failing to deliver to customers the cars it has promised them, while simultaneously raising the prices of those yet-undelivered cars,” and “a lousy level of customer service.” He says there are more damning things to be found in Tesla’s SEC registration settlement from September, but we’ll have to wait for his next column to find out what those are. The takeaway, in Shinal’s opinion, is that even though Tesla will keep getting money from the government, that investors have no business dealing in Tesla stock.



Early in his piece, Shinal says Tesla’s financials are worse than those of Zynga and Groupon, two hot dot-coms that have fallen on their faces since their IPOs. Shinal knows far more about finances than we do, but we wonder if it makes the most sense to compare a brand new car company developing brand new technologies – with the colossal amounts of up-front cash each one of those things requires, and a company with Tesla’s record so far – to a social media game developer and an online coupon distributor. Head over to Market Watch to read the full piece.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Jonathon Ramsey

BMW 3 Series Rival “3 to 4 Years Away” Says Tesla CEO Elon Musk

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According to comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter, a “low cost, compelling electric car” is “3 to 4 years away” from being a reality.

Stating that it has always been a dream of his to create such a product, Musk also elaborated that he wished it could happen sooner. This raises the question as to whether the issue is the technology or the demand for such a vehicle. Or perhaps more likely is the possibility that Tesla currently lacks the capital to invest in such a product. The American electric car maker recently announced it would delay its Model X crossover, preferring to repay its DOE loan quicker.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Model X Delayed

In previous reports Tesla reps had indicated a 3 Series rival was in the works, priced at around $30,000. At that time the projected launch was for 2015. It now appears as though it would be 2016 at the earliest.

But if there’s any automaker that can make a compelling and affordable electric car, it’ll be Tesla. While other automakers are struggling to get their electric vehicles off the ground and into the market, Tesla has proved that there is a market for EVs with the right balance of performance and luxury.

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com

By Jason Siu

Elon Musk explains why Tesla has its own stores, defends service program





Elon Musk is taking his argument for a different kind of customer-dealer relationship directly to the people. In this case, the Tesla Motors CEO writes on his company’s blog to list the reasons why the luxury electric-vehicle maker decided to own all of its dealerships instead of offering franchises.



Musk, who said the Tesla Model S sedan aspires to be “the best car of any kind” in his new post, says that using the traditional dealer franchise model would have created conflicts of interest withing the salespeople. The reason is that any energy used to educate the public about electric vehicles would detract from conventional-vehicle sales. “It is impossible for them to explain the advantages of going electric without simultaneously undermining their traditional business,” Musk writes.



Additionally, most buyers purchase the same make as their previous vehicle, which means there are few buyers who would walk into a multi-brand dealership and be willing to take the time to learn about Tesla. Musk added that Tesla would have 19 dealership stores in the US by the end of the year, up from 10 at the beginning of the year.



While the Model S has been universally praised, its pricey service program has not. Earlier this month, David Noland, a Model S reservation holder, wrote that Tesla’s $600-a-year service program is more than 10 times the cost of the service program for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid. Tesla has argued that its service plan is more comprehensive than usual because it includes an inspection, replacement parts such as brakes and windshield wipers, roadside assistance, system monitoring, remote diagnostics and software updates.



Finally, Musk addresses the recent lawsuits over Tesla’s stores. As you might expect, Musk doesn’t back down:

Regrettably, two lawsuits have nonetheless been filed against Tesla that we believe are starkly contrary to the spirit and the letter of the law. This is supported by the nature of the plaintiffs, where one is a Fisker dealer and the other is an auto group that has repeatedly demanded that it be granted a Tesla franchise. They will have considerable difficulty explaining to the court why Tesla opening a store in Boston is somehow contrary to the best interests of fair commerce or the public.

We’re sure the case will be made, though, and we’ll see how well it’s delivered.

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By Danny King

Tesla Stock Rises After Elon Musk Teases ‘Exciting Announcement’

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Elon Musk and Tesla have been making headlines the last couple of months, from dealing with The New York Times to promising an affordable electric car within five years.

The American automaker’s stock rose the most in nearly five weeks yesterday after CEO, Elon Musk tweeted that the company plans a “really exciting” announcement next Tuesday. According to Musk, he’ll be putting his money where his mouth is in a very major way. The announcement was originally going to come Thursday, but Musk later stated that it’ll come a few days later so that there would be no end of the quarter distractions.

SEE ALSO: BMW 3 Series Rival “3 to 4 Years Away” Says Musk

Tesla surged as much as 5.2 percent after the announcement, but closed 2.5 percent higher. The 5.2 percent was the biggest intraday jump for the automaker since February 19th.

It’ll be interesting to see what the news is, considering Tesla has no plans to display at the 2013 New York Auto Show.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com

By Jason Siu

Tesla CEO Says NY Times Article Likely Cost Brand $100M

A public battle between the New York Times and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is still sprouting news after the disgruntled executive told Bloomberg that the article likely cost the electric car maker $100 million.

Musk spoke about the article in an on-camera interview with Bloomberg, and said the article cost Tesla tens of millions, maybe even “on the order of $100 million.” When pressed about the fact that such a number would suggest the brand suffering roughly 1,000 order cancellations, he quickly corrected himself, saying the number wasn’t that high.

SEE ALSO: Tesla CEO Releases Official Rebuttal to NY Times Story

Instead, he said his estimate was based on the valuation of the company after the article was published and order cancellations – of which he said there were probably a few hundred.

Regardless or the scandal, it also sounds like Tesla will reach its 20,000 unit annual sales goal based on current sales. Tesla is currently building 400 Model S sedans per week.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Discuss this story on Tesla-Buzz.com

By Luke Vandezande

Motor Trend tests Tesla Model S, finds 0-60 in 3.9 sec and 100.7 MPGe

2012 Tesla Model S - front three-quarter dynamic motion shot



Tesla has said the highest-end Model S has a range of 300 miles (at 55 miles per hour), but until recently, it’s been tremendously difficult for anyone outside the company to verify this number. When the EPA did its testing thing, it came up with a 265-mile range estimate for the version with the 85-kWh battery pack. Tesla is even offering a prize of some sort to anyone who drives a Model S over 400 miles on one charge.



Now, Motor Trend writers has had the chance to spend some time in Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s personal Performance Signature Model S to see just how far the electric car can be driven. The result? Your results may vary.



First, the good news. Motor Trend ran a battery of tests on the Model S, and its independent measurements discovered the following ways that their independent testing beat the manufacturer’s official numbers:

  • 0-60 time: 3.9 seconds (Tesla official number is 4.4 seconds)
  • Quarter mile: 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph (12.6 seconds)
  • 100.7 MPGe during a 200+ mile drive (EPA says 89 MPGe).

So, then, what’s the bad news? At roughly 65 mph with no A/C, MT “only” got 238 miles out of the battery. That’s less than advertised, but MT offers an important and reasonable take on this issue:

But the range that matters is really a psychological/perceptual one, not a specific number. Think about it: We drove from Fontana on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin to San Diego and all the way back to L.A.’s Pacific edge on one charge. Five hours of continuous driving. This is a breakthrough accomplishment that ought to knock down the range anxiety barrier that’s substantially limited EV sales.

Word.

Related GalleryTesla Model S

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By Sebastian Blanco

Elon Musk, Akio Toyoda Named to Forbes List of World’s Most Powerful People

What do Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Toyota boss Akio Toyoda have in common? The same thing Bill Gates and the Pope do: they’ve been named to the Forbes magazine list of the world’s 71 most powerful people.

With 7.1 billion people now living on the planet, Forbes says its list is of the 71 who matter, averaging one person for every 100 million.

Of the political, religious and business leaders, just two (Musk and Toyoda) are the head of car companies, though both automakers vary greatly.

Ranked at number 66 on the list is Musk, the man who founded PayPal and used his fortune to fund Tesla Motors, which after selling its electric Roadster sportscar in limited numbers for years, went more mainstream in 2012, launching its Model S electric sedan, which has earned accolades from the automotive press, including being named Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year.

However, Musks’s position on the list has less to do with Tesla and more to do with another of his companies, SpaceX. Launching a rocket to the space station this year and delivering supplies, Forbes calls him “the most powerful man in space” and says that he, “stands to make out like a 19th-century railway tycoon.”

Ranking above Musk is the CEO of the world’s largest automaker and great-grandson of its founder (with the name to prove it), Akio Toyoda. With the Japanese auto-giant about to solidify its third year as the world’s top selling automaker, it has sold over 200 million vehicles since it was established. In addition to being an automaker, the company’s Toyota Financial Services division also makes Toyota a bank. In addition, Toyota is seen as a pioneer in green technology, with its Prius model synonymous with the word hybrid.

Compiled by Forbes’ senior editors, each of the 71 individuals on the list are there based on individual rankings in four “power categories”, including how many people they have power over, the financial resources they control, how many different areas they have power in (political, religious, economic, etc.), and finally, they must actively use their power.

Placing first on the list is US President Barack Obama, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in third.

By Colum Wood

Tesla CEO Hints at Electric Truck and Electric Supercar

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk recently sat down with Motor Trend for an interview, and hinted that the company has plans for an all-electric supercar, as well as an electric truck.

When asked about future products, Musk said “we’d like to do an electric supercar. We have this idea for an electric truck that could really be a big improvement in truck technology.”

Tesla’s next vehicle that will hit the market is the Model X SUV, followed by a 3 series competitor that the brand hopes will be there first large quantity seller. Tesla is looking to become “more experimental as a brand,” says Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Developing Third Model to Take on 3-Series

Also in the experimental category are autonomous vehicles, another area that Musk touched on. “I do think it will be interesting to do self-driving cars, perhaps working in conjunction with Google, who’s quite close to us in Silicon Valley,” he finished.

[Source: Motor Trend]

By Stephen Elmer

What $20 million means to both Tesla and Fisker





When is $20 million not equal to $20 million? When, for some, it’s an interest payment and, for others, it’s all someone else thinks they’re worth. Here’s how that one number means two totally different things to two different green car companies.



Speaking to Bloomberg Television about the early repayment of Tesla Motors’ DOE loan, CEO Elon Musk said today that, “ultimately, the US taxpayer actually made a profit above $20 million on this loan. For this loan at least, people’s tax bill actually went slightly down.”



Musk said that, now that the loan has been paid back, more people might take a look at Tesla. “We were attacked a lot in certain quarters for having some government debt,” he said. “I think that actually matters to some consumers out there, whether or not a company actually does have government debt, and being able to say we fully repaid that debt with interest, I think it is helpful to some number of people out there in thinking about buying a car.” So, for Tesla, which recently raised over a billion dollars, $20 million is an easy price to pay to potentially sell more EVs.



Now, let’s look at Fisker Automotive, which is still fending off bankruptcy. We learned this week that VL Automotive and Wanxiang made an offer to buy the troubled automaker for an undisclosed sum. Word out today is that the amount that the two companies are willing to pay for Fisker is, you guessed it, $20 million. That’s about one percent of Fisker’s $2 billion-plus value back when the Karma plug-in hybrid was launched, according to Reuters. It’s unclear how a potential Fisker buyer will have to deal with the outstanding DOE loan amount of $171 million and other issues, but the $20-million offer a striking contrasts to Musk’s statement on Bloomberg Television, which you can watch in the video below.


By Sebastian Blanco

Tesla announces ‘World’s Best Service and Warranty Program,’ hints at future 500-mile battery





Tesla Motors has just revealed the latest edition of it 5-part announcement trilogy. Whereas the previous first installment had to do with the company’s new leasing program, this episode is all about service and warranty, comes gift-wrapped in the glittery descriptor of “World’s Best,” and is accompanied by hints of a future battery upgrade.



The new plan improves on the California automaker’s service program by adding a valet service that brings you a top-spec Model S Performance – or a Tesla Roadster, if you prefer – to temporarily replace your personal vehicle while it’s being serviced. CEO Elon Musk states that this fleet of Model S service vehicles, which will initially number about 100, will ideally be less than three months old and also be available for immediate sale. Like your loaner more than your own car? You can keep it, paying “a price that is lower by 1% per month of age and $1 per mile” for your new ride and taking, likely, a similar hit on your trade-in.


Musk hinted that a 500-mile battery would not be an unreasonable thing to expect in four or five years.

Not only should the purchase scheme keep the loaner fleet nice and fresh, it may also create a cache of certified pre-owned inventory for buyers who are looking for a deal on a Tesla that starts at $69,900 from the factory, or who would rather not wait a couple months for a new, made-to-order car.



As well as no-travel hassle, Tesla has also made its $600 annual service optional without effecting the standard 5-year/50,000-mile warranty. The company has also made the battery portion of the warranty unconditional, meaning that, if you manage to somehow turn it into a useless brick (something that should be quite difficult to accomplish with the Model S), you will get a replacement unit of equal capacity free of charge.



Speaking of battery capacity, during the media call, Mr. Musk also offered some hope for those anxious for packs that hold more energy than the current EPA-estimated 265-mile/85 kilowatt-hour packs now available. In response to a question about upcoming technology improvements, he hinted that a 500-mile battery would not be an unreasonable thing to expect in four or five years. He then added that, eventually, Tesla would likely offer owners the opportunity to upgrade their vehicles with longer-range capabilities.



It all sounds pretty good to us, and we can’t help but think if this upstart company keeps it up, surpassing sales of the Chevy Volt might seem a minor accomplishment. For more details on this newest warranty arrangement, you can get more details in a blog post on the Tesla website.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Domenick Yoney

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