Fremont, You Have A Problem, And It Starts With An M

Of course, this article was not really posthumously written by a Francesco Sagredo who died near 400 years ago. Feel free to speculate about the real face behind Francesco.

Under Elon Musk’s leadership Tesla’s Model X arrived two years late and subjected the company to six months of self described production hell, only to tie for last place in Consumer Reports’ luxury SUV ratings with a score of 59/100 (Nov 2016). Delays for the falcon winged albatross will allow the Chevy Bolt and second-generation Nissan Leaf to both beat the Model 3 to widespread availability by the end of the year. Tesla’s quality has been poor, the UAW is circling, and Mr. Musk recently tweeted about mixing alcohol and Ambien (zolpidem) — a drug combination not only dangerous in its own right, but that increases the risk of long-term zolpidem addiction. How is this man still Tesla’s CEO? [Continue Reading]

Lucy In The Sky With Ambien: Tesla’s Elon Musk At New Highs

“A little red wine, a vintage record player, some Ambien. Magic happens,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk at yesterday’s shareholders meeting. Supposedly, it was in reference to his Twitter habits, but it easily works as the bottom line for most of yesterday’s presentation, a séance with all the signs of mind-altering drugs in action.

Yesterday’s major announcement was that the Model Y small SUV will come out in 2019, and that it will be built in a completely new factory, away from Tesla’s existing Fremont location. If you listened closely to Musk’s May conference call with analysts, you already know that, but apparently, very few people did listen closely.

A year ago that factory was completely out of the question.

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Tesla’s Big China Chances Indefinitely On Hold

“China is Tesla’s most lucrative opportunity,” wrote the Business Insider. A new report makes it look like that opportunity has been lost. “China plans to halt issuing permits to produce electric vehicles because of concern additional approvals may lead to a glut in the world’s biggest auto market,” wrote Bloomberg. Without permits, no Chinese production. Without Chinese production, no chance to gain relevance in a market surrounded by high custom barriers, and subsidies that favor domestics. Without the world’s largest EV market, no chance for Tesla to maintain scale and relevance in the world.

There have been occasional rumors of Tesla starting production in China, and each time, it turned out as wishful thinking. Chinese production never was as easy as the many  — always false — rumors made it sound.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance Trounces Tesla 2:1 (Or Worse.)

“Tesla is cooking with gas while Renault-Nissan has dropped the ball,” told me a media colleague the other day. His name shall remain unmentioned, not only due to his use of inappropriately mixed metaphors. His comment made me dig up some numbers, and the result of the digging is that the Renault-Nissan Alliance remains the world’s EV leader, selling more than double the number of electric cars the allegedly gas-cooking Tesla could move.

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The Future Tesla Model 3 Buyer Drives A Toyota, And That’s A Huge Problem

California carmaker Tesla is sitting on, at last count, 373,000 pre-orders for its more affordably priced Model 3 sedan. A confidential study conducted for a major automaker shows that Tesla’s Model 3 has changed the market long before its release, legitimizing electric vehicles as a mass market choice.

The typical aspiring Model 3 buyer drives a Toyota, not a BMW, the study says. Those customers are looking to switch because they think they can finally afford cutting-edge technology previously limited to the rich and famous. Tesla, however, may be ill able to afford the customers it’s attracting in droves: Toyota owners are among the most demanding, and they will be confronted with a brand notorious for its lack of reliability. Sound the collision alarm.

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Here Is Everything That Can Go Wrong With Tesla. Musk Signed It

“The challenge of reading large volumes of Tesla coverage is that it tends to be either rabidly positive or sharply negative,” writes the always insightful John Voelker in Green Car Reports. Indeed, Tesla reporting seems more at loggerheads than Breitbart and the New York Times. Looking for fact-based and sober reading material, I found some unexpectedly astute literature, explaining in great detail what can go wrong at Tesla Motors: It is the company’s annual report Form 10-K, filed with the SEC last week. Some say that Musk & Co. don’t know what they are getting into. Not true as a little reading will prove. Tesla knows exactly what can go wrong, and it is a lot.

Over the signatures of Elon Musk and CFO Jason Wheeler (who announced his sudden departure from Tesla a week before he signed the 10-K ) Tesla enumerates on 15 tightly-spaced pages the many obstacles standing in the way of Tesla’s success. There may be more “risks and uncertainties not currently known to us.” 10-K usually are dry reading. Tesla’s annual report is the Stephen King of SEC filings. Here are just a few highlights.

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40% Price Drop On Chinese EV Batteries Spells Trouble For Tesla

A cornerstone of the Tesla story may be crumbling amid indications that the company’s envisioned battery price advantage could evaporate long before the company’s Gigafactory has gone into full swing. An analyst note from Morgan Stanley says that Chinese battery suppliers may cut their prices by 35%-40% in 2017, while still making a profit. On Thursday, shares of electric vehicle battery maker Samsung SDI dropped 4% on the news, while competitor LG Chem was down 1.8%. Tesla stock was unchanged in after-hours trading.

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Akio Toyoda Puts Himself And 3 Top Managers In Charge Of Electric Car Drive

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Toyota president Akio Toyoda has assembled an all-star cast to run Toyota’s new electric car division, and put himself in charge of it, the company said today in an innocuous-looking change of personnel note.

As a sign of the importance of the new venture, Toyota’s EV department is headed by three of Toyota’s top managers. Akio Toyoda is joined by Toyota EVPs and board members Mitsuhisa Kato and Shigeki Terashi, both central figures in Toyota’s high tech research and development.

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