Tesla’s Tough Road Ahead

The industry zeroes in on the upstart Tesla.

The industry zeroes in on the upstart Tesla.

The Tesla bears are on the march, tearing away at the startup EV maker’s still-sky-high valuation, but not because low oil prices are killing off EVs. Quite the opposite, in fact. As I explained in last week’s Bloomberg View column, falling oil prices will not kill off alt-energy drivetrains for a wide number of reasons, most importantly because it’s one of the few ways to stand out in a sea of commodified internal-combustion engine-powered cars. Though automakers could easily plan a low-efficiency product cycle in response to low oil prices, they are keeping the technological arms race going. And that is Tesla’s real challenge: not a decline in EV interest, but strong competition from established players with more experience building vehicles at scale. [Continue Reading]

Tesla’s patent give-away: Worthless junk, or freebie marketing to fill the gigafactory?

Late last week, Tesla surprised the world by giving away all its patents. Social media savvy as he is, Tesla chief Elon Musk adroitly painted it as a good-for-mankind move, and that “the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.” A few days later, “open source cars” gets 56,300 hits on Google. Some killjoys think that putting Tesla’s patents in the public domain is as altruistic as giving oil lamps to China, freebie marketing to bring the wayward scale to Musk’s gigafactories. Some see it as a desperate move, as admission than an EV-only auto company is doomed.

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