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Musk: Great salesman. Tesla: Least capable automaker?

6652 Views 36 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Upper5Percent
The auto industry admires Tesla, envies Tesla, and ultimately wants Tesla to succeed. But the Model 3 proves that something the wider industry always suspected is true: Elon Musk is the greatest car salesman who has ever lived — but Tesla is currently one of the least capable automakers on Earth.

Tesla is spending as much as General Motors every quarter — about $1 billion — to produce and sell a fraction of the vehicles that GM does. GM is also turning that invested capital into steady profits, while Tesla in the third-quarter of 2017 posted the biggest loss in its history. GM has a $25-billion war chest. Tesla only has enough cash to operate through 2018.
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Elon Musk is the greatest car salesman who has ever lived — but Tesla is currently one of the least capable automakers on Earth.
I think he sells stock, not cars or any other product.

And, of course, Tesla only makes cars
Are you suggesting that Tesla can lose tons of money selling things other than cars? ;)

I actually priced out a couple of home battery systems. Tesla did have a nice looking unit (not the best but second best) and the best price, but not by the amount you're suggesting. IIRC there was an install cost for the Tesla system and the install for the LG Chem system was lower.
How do you think Tesla sales of the Model 3 will be compared to the Bolt? The difference is people are clamoring for the Model 3.

What if Tesla only does 200K or 300K while the Bolt sells 20K or 30K (with LEAF2 and TM3 out). Is that still a fail?
I can see your point here but the issue is whether Tesla can sell the Model 3 and stay in business. Last quarter Tesla lost something like $28K on every vehicle is delivered. If GM took even $20K off the price of the Bolt how many do you think it could sell? That's not to say the Model 3 costs a lot more than the Bolt EV to build. It won't. But the models Tesla will be selling won't be $35K with a $7500 tax credit. And how many of those "clamoring" for what has been marketed as a smaller version of a Model S for $35K will still be clamoring when they see what they get for $50K. This isn't a problem for Tesla alone. For GM and Tesla and every other auto manufacturer the problem is that BEVs are too expensive given the alternatives.

So to answer your question: I don't think Tesla will sell 200K or 300K Model 3s a year, both because it won't be able to make that many and because the demand won't be there. Demand for the Model S and Model X is not exactly going through the roof. These models, especially the Model S, had a nice run, but Tesla is looking at steady or even declining demand. How many small sedans for $50K do all manufacturers combined sell in the US? (The US is the relevant market because Tesla's business in Europe is "Meh" and in China it's downright lousy).

A journalist for the WSJ and NYTimes once remarked that, for technology companies, "it seems that it's the true believers who sometimes don't get something very basic -- addition and subtraction".
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To this day, send a Bolt to pretty much anywhere in Canada and it won't survive but a few days on the lot. Most are sold before they even get there. People at local dealerships are still waiting between 4 to 6 months if they want anything custom.

People in Quebec (where EV penetration is very high) can't wait to get their hands on them.
Generally speaking, Canadians are more practical than Americans. The Bolt EV is a very practical vehicle; the Model 3 is a Veblen vehicle. That would make a difference.

As for getting Canada more allocation, that's easy: REQUIRE ZEV CREDITS.
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