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Cars tesla biggest challenge survey

Published on December 30th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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What’s Tesla’s Biggest Challenge?

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December 30th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan
 
Tesla Motors has crossed some huge hurdles, but it still has some ginormous ones to come. For a little fun, I thought I’d create a quick poll on what you think has been, is, or will be Tesla’s biggest challenge. Check out the poll below and chime in.

I’m very curious to see how this poll turns out, and how this electric vehicle giant does with the upcoming challenges it faces.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • EEE123

    Where are the results of the poll?

  • VoxPopper

    I’d say turning a profit is pretty important for a capital intensive manufacturing company. (I guess that is a mere detail to some)

    • Bob_Wallace

      Many companies go for years before becoming profitable.

      A new car model costs about a billion dollars to develop and it can take 2-3 years before those costs are recovered.

      The Edsel cost about $2 billion (in today’s dollars) and was not recovered.

  • James H

    The Model E needs to be designed, built and brought into production…

  • thegreatcorntrollio

    Making cars. And making cars that don’t catch fire or burn your house down charging them.

    • DeeAgeaux

      After 100 years neither GM nor Ford make a car that don’t catch on fire or burn houses down.

    • JimmySD

      Nobody has the balls to say it, but tell Paul Walker how much safer ICE vehicles are.

      I don’t recall Porsche stock taking a hit after that disaster.

      • Bob_Wallace

        We don’t bat an eye at the more than 200 gas car fires each day in the US.

        All the noise over EV battery fires, all in extreme situations, think there might be some oil energy powering that noise?

  • DeeAgeaux

    The ramp up in production from 800 cars per year to 22k per year while at the same time installing the supercharger network along the West Coast was the biggest challenge.

    Without the ramp up in production mainstream consumers would consider the Model S a micro niche product like the Fisker Karma with a dubious future and without a viable number of superchargers that gives people confidence that a national network is really just 2-3 years away the Model S is another range anxiety BEV with a longer cord.
    These developments break the Model S out of the wealthy environmentalist market into more mainstream upper middle class luxury sedan market segment because this BEV can actually replace an ICE luxury sedan instead of compliment one.

    Now the biggest challenge is opening stores in Texas, Arizona , and in Colorado outside the grandfathered one in Denver. Tesla really needs a store not just a gallery in Boulder and Maryland does not really matter since the state is geographically so small Maryland consumers can go to the Washington DC store.

    • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

      Production ramp up: my thought exactly. Opening a store is not that hard, neither is building a supercharger station.

      From now on, all Tesla needs to do is more of the same. They’ll just have to take care that routine doesn’t turn into complacency.

      • DeeAgeaux

        Building a supercharger station is not hard but it cost money. Building a network cost quite a bit of money for a company the size of Tesla.
        Tesla does not have very deep pockets right now.
        So yeah, I think it is a bit of challenge to build the network, pay for expansion tooling cost, R&D for Model X, Model E, and Model Y.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    I chose to match production with demand, because car production is very capital intensive and Tesla lacks cash. This is however no means bad problem to have, because gross margins can be kept high and there is no need for price cuts.

    However, I should have answered the past problems, because Tesla’s biggest problems are already behind. Getting Model S designed and into production was perhaps the biggest challenge. Tesla ambitions was to build the best car and considering their limited budget and lack of experience, this challenge was enormous.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Tesla lacks cash?

      With their stock prices through the roof?

      • Jouni Valkonen

        Unfortunately you cannot change stock prices to the cash without dilution. They raised one billion a year ago which they used for ramping up Model S production and paying back government loan.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Companies sell stock to raise cash all the time.

          And then buy back when they’ve got extra cash and the price is right.

          • Jouni Valkonen

            Yes, but selling own stock is not very good move to make too often, because investors do not like the idea, because it dilutes the stock value. However, I would guess that Tesla probably will issue some new stocks in 2014.

            Often it is just better to get cash by going into bank and ask kindly. Today interest rates are low also.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If Tesla issues more stock or sells some that it’s holding in order to open new plants the stockholders are going to be standing on tables cheering their heads off.

            Spending that much money on an un-established stock is all about getting in on the ground floor of a company that is expected to go big. Tesla’s stockholders very much want the company to go big.

    • jeffhre

      Lack of experience? They have hired thousands of “the best in the business” collectively with tens of thousands of years of industry experience.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        In 2008 when Tesla was only one hour away from bankruptcy they did not have that many experienced engineers and even if they had few engineers, no one in world had designed an electric car in that level and into that target category (high-end premium sedan). First design attempt of Model S was dismal failure and Model S was therefore postponed significantly and it made into production in summer 2012.

        • jeffhre

          That is correct.

      • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

        The experience of an organisation is not simply the sum of the individual employees. There is more to it, and so, yes, Tesla as an organisation had no experience when they started mass producing the Model S.

        • jeffhre

          No experience, none, zip, nada, zed, zero experience…you are actually willing to stick with that judgement in it’s entirety?

          • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

            This is not what I said neither what I meant to say. Don’t act like a jerk.

          • jeffhre

            I apologize. If re-stating what you said was being a jerk, I will not do that again. Instead I will copy your printed words verbatim, “and so, yes, Tesla as an organisation had no experience when they started mass producing the Model S.” So I did not add zip, nada, zed, zero experience to it this time.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      “Getting Model S designed and into production was perhaps the biggest challenge.” That’s the one I chose. Surprised to see, though, that it isn’t performing very well in the survey.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        I think that it is hard for people to orient that most difficult challenges were already in the past. In the end, Tesla cleared the challenges fabulously and it managed to put together something amazing that will be remembered in history alongside Model T.

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Agreed.

      • No way

        It’s a problem of the past and even if it was the biggest challenge it’s behind them.The header of the article makes you think about the future so it wasn’t until I read the alternatives that I realised that you could think about past problems too…
        In the future the biggest challenge is to build the affordable Model E in a scale to match demand while making a profit…. but that is too far in the future (3-5 years).

        I chose match production of Model S (and Model X later on) with demand since it’s the biggest challenge right now and during the next year.

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          I had the following line in the intro, but I guess you (and probably a lot of people, now that I think about it) just skipped past that: “For a little fun, I thought I’d create a quick poll on what you think has been, is, or will be Tesla’s biggest challenge.”

          • No way

            I don’t know if it was the big head line that put me in that mental state even if you wrote about the past being an option too. Anyway, it’s a fun poll even though the “right” answer when we look back at Tesla a few years from now will obviously be the period between the roadster and creating the Model S, including Tesla being (close to) bankrupt.
            Keep up the good work on reporting on the EV’s and clean tech!

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            No worries — was my mistake. Too hidden, and the headline was probably misleading. The results are interesting. 400+ so far. Bringing Tesla Model E to market has a heavy lead. Bringing the Model S to market only got 21 votes, 5.22%. We are yet to see if Tesla can accomplish the upcoming challenges, so the “best bet” would certainly be betting on one of the future challenges. :D

      • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

        I wanted to choose that, but my choice was very focused: successfully starting mass production has really been the big achievement. In large part, the Model S was the next iteration of the Roadster drivetrain.

        Mass production is so frightfully complex, with so many things that can go wrong (and probably did go wrong). And they did it without more experienced partners, on a shoestring budget and in record time. Totally unheard of. This is what scares the crap out of the establishment more than the Model S itself.

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Agreed. It’s pretty amazing. After watching that talk by one of the co-founders the other day, I became even more impressed. They made it look fairly easy, but really, holy cow….

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