The Cult of Tesla Survives Another Round of Bad News

Tesla MotorsElon Musk’s quarterly earnings reports for Tesla Motors always offer a little razzle, a little dazzle, soon-to-be-unfulfilled promises, and rationalized failures.

This go-round was no exception, and after yet another shortfall of financial and vehicle delivery expectations, perhaps the biggest surprise was the revelation that $1.3 billion in subsidies from Nevada taxpayers won’t be enough to get the hyped Gigafactory completed.

Spending and construction have only just begun on what is supposed to be Tesla’s battery-making monster. According to its 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, $431 million was spent on the Gigafactory through June of this year, and $520 million is expected to be spent by the end of 2016. Tesla’s partner in the project, Panasonic, said last month it would raise $3.86 billion, with most of it targeted for the Gigafactory. Another $1.7 billion came in via yet another equity sale. Alas, it apparently …

More Woes for Tesla from Consumer Reports

Elon Musk ModelSAs 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.

Nonetheless those who actually own a Model X – as opposed to those who own a certificate of …

Super-Subsidized Tesla’s Stock Suffers Precipitous Drop

Tesla logoWall Street, media and government darling Tesla Motors has seen its stock price nearly halved from seven months ago. For so long it has seemed that ongoing bad news never had an effect on the heavily subsidized upstart, but now perhaps the Teflon is eroding off CEO Elon Musk.

The precipitous, rapid descent preceded last week’s horrid earnings report. USA Today helped smear lipstick on the pig, cheerily noting shares rose “14 percent at one point” after its earnings “miss” on Wednesday, because Musk delivered investors a "rosy outlook for the rest of 2016." This was in context of what the newspaper characterized as a “whopping loss” that “badly missed estimates.”

That's the history of earnings reports with Tesla and Musk. The CEO with perpetually sanguine expectations never fails to deliver promising forecasts following dismal earnings reports, despite promises that are often not delivered.

Now he’s got crashing …

Consumer Reports Rescinds Recommendation for Tesla’s Model S

Tesla logoImagine a product that performs so well, that an evaluator says it busted through the top of its grade scale, yet that same scorer can’t recommend the product due to issues of reliability.

That would be a seeming disconnect in the real world, but in this case we are talking about the immortal Tesla Model S. The illogical appraiser is Consumer Reports.

Two years ago the media enthusiastically reported how the all-electric luxury vehicle scored a 99 out of 100, as measured by conscientious buyers’ favorite magazine. Then, two months ago, CR’s researchers were even more ecstatic after their follow-up tests, and awarded the Model S a score of 103. Green-minded journalists were over the moon.

“This is a glimpse into what we can expect down the line, where we have cars with the performance of supercars and the comfort, convenience and safety features of a luxury …

Tesla Sells More Shares After Latest Production Shortcomings

Tesla logoElon Musk still hasn’t given up his quarterly earnings schtick – in which he glosses over ongoing failures and points to his latest tech idea (which is not really new) – and why should he? No reason to quit until it’s clear Wall Street has stopped worshiping.

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.

Regardless, last week cast more doubt on Tesla’s condition. After Reuters reported that the company loses more than $4,000 per Model S it markets and sells, the electric automaker announced it would

Tesla, Nissan Take Financial Hits as States Remove EV Subsidies

Elon Musk ModelSIt’s been six years since electric vehicle manufacturers enjoyed their windfall from U.S. taxpayers via the stimulus, but the thirst for subsidies, and pain from financial losses, have not waned.

The pursuit of government goodies continues apace for Tesla Motors, even more vigorously after the Los Angeles Times reported last month that CEO Elon Musk depends on more than $4.9 billion in corporate welfare for his companies, which also include SolarCity and SpaceX.

Tesla’s quest may more accurately be portrayed as preservation of the golden goose that is California’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credit scheme. The Golden State requires the six largest auto manufacturers to produce a certain percentage of vehicles that are “green” – in other words, electric – or to purchase zero-emission “credits” from companies that do, such as Tesla. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Tesla is the largest seller of ZEV credits, …

Elon Musk Defends His Companies’ Subsidies

Elon MuskAlt-energy/transport-tech CEO Elon Musk and his trio of companies (Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX) didn’t cooperate with the Los Angeles Times on its article that tabulated his businesses’ whopping sum of corporate welfare ($4.9 billion), and he was predictably miffed by the (accurate) portrayal.

So he went about trying to fix things on CNBC and with the Times on Monday, but not by denying the conclusions reached by reporter Jerry Hirsch, but instead by essentially pointing at fossil fuel industries and saying “they do it more.”

“If I cared about subsidies,” Musk told Hirsch in a follow-up to his Sunday expose’, “I would have entered the oil and gas industry.” He added that the financial help he receives is a “pittance” compared to government backing of fossil fuels.

Musk’s resentment (envy?) of oil and gas subsidies is amusing. Would you like to shoot your rockets into space …

Taxpayer Subsidies Keep Elon Musk’s Companies Afloat

Well, somebody did it, and it was the mainstream media. Congratulations to the Los Angeles Times for taking the time to research and estimate the total amount of U.S. public (local, state, and federal) subsidies for companies owned or run by South African-born Canadian-American Elon Musk.

The total amount calculated by reporter Jerry Hirsch for taxpayer-backed incentives – of many different forms, including tax credits and rebates provided to customers – was $4.9 billion. The corporate beneficiaries have been Tesla Motors and SpaceX, where Musk is CEO, and SolarCity Corp., where he is chairman. The sum does not include SpaceX’s contracts with the government to carry out programs for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

“Government support is a theme of all three of these companies, and without it none of them would be around,” said Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager for Stanphyl Capital Partners, to the Times

Bad Earnings and Subsidy Controversy Hound Musk, Tesla

Elon Musk ModelSLast time NLPC checked on Tesla Motors – as 2014 closed – we noted a growing skepticism largely due to CEO Elon Musk’s consistent habit of overpromising production and results, without delivering.

Then ten days ago he reported year-end earnings, and matters have worsened, although you wouldn’t know it from most of the undeterred “rah-rah” media and Wall Street fanboys. But there are exceptions.

First, the brutal basics – Tesla suffered a fourth-quarter loss of $107.6 million, which was nearly seven times the loss ($16.3 million) during the same period last year. The company lost $294 million for the whole year, compared to a $74 million loss in 2013, and has not recorded a profit in its history (except in a couple of quarters where it employed accounting gimmickry and depended heavily on subsidies). According to Associated Press, analysts expected a profit of 30 cents per share, but Tesla …

Is Tesla Shine Wearing Off as 2014 Closes?

Elon Musk IronManIt’s been another year of unwarranted enthusiasm for Tesla Motors and CEO Elon Musk, who parlayed that exuberance for his unprofitable company into a $1.3 billion incentives package from the state of Nevada.

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?”

“So where are those battery-swapping stations Tesla promised?” Lavrinc wonders. “Or its big push into the energy storage biz? Didn’t we hear something about the …

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