As it continues to defy common sense and the laws of economics with its lofty stock price, Tesla has again shown it has little corporate competence in the ability to deliver a consistently functional product that satisfies customers.
The latest evidence comes in the recently rolled out Model X, which is allegedly an SUV, but looks like just another car. Retailing at a price only the extremely wealthy can afford ($138,000), the all-electric follow-up to the similarly troubled Model S automobile has stumbled out of the gate. The problems were outlined in a Consumer Reports article posted online Tuesday, which spurred a number of similar follow-up stories in other media, and temporarily caused Tesla’s stock to dip. Long-time followers of the company know that is only a temporary condition, however.
The evidence could not be any clearer than what has happened in Atlanta. As Watchdog.org has reported, since a $5,000 state tax credit expired on July 1, sales of “zero-emission” electrics such as the Nissan Leaf have plummeted. Whereas monthly sales averaged 915 in 2015 until the year’s midpoint, sales in the month of August fell to 148, according to vehicle registration data compiled by R.L. Polk & Co.
Oh, sure, after another dismal performance (operating loss of $47 million) for Tesla Motors during the most recent quarter, its stock price took an immediate dive of 9-10 percent. But while that merely returned the electric automaker back to irrational exuberance territory – as compared to the drunken sailor highs it has enjoyed in recent months – it didn’t take long for some market analyst to restore the inflation.
But despite that legislatively unanimous award from three months ago, and a stock price that has flown high for most of the year, there are signs that the shine over the luxury electric automaker is beginning to dull.
Perhaps the most noteworthy skepticism has arisen from popular automotive Web site Jalopnik, which otherwise has been a fairly reliable (but not robotically so) cheerleader for Tesla. An end-of-year article written by blogger Damon Lavrinc recounts the automaker’s legacy of non-fulfillment and asks, “What will Tesla and Elon Musk over-promise next?”
According to the report, at minimum there is sharp debate over whether the company will continue to manufacture electric vehicle batteries in-house or contract with an outside supplier. Nissan partner Renault, which has 43.4 percent shareholder ownership in the joint company, is said to be pushing for outsourcing battery production – possibly to LG Chem. None who revealed the information were identified for the Reuters story.
There was little doubt that once CEO Elon Musk and Tesla announced they would locate their electric vehicle battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada, that Silver State lawmakers would vote in a special legislative session to support targeted tax breaks and incentives – even at the breathtaking amount of $1.3 billion.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, the courter, would have appeared an extreme fool if he didn’t already have the political backing needed for the deal. But there were other mini-surprises: Unanimity at the legislature; four separate bills passed to construct the package; and benefits enjoyed by other industries in Nevada that were rescinded to help with the Tesla payoff.