I generally eschew conspiracy theories under the rubric that little explained by conspiracy cannot as well be explained by incompetence and that the occurrence of stupid is vastly more common than the occurrence of evil in the hearts and minds of men.
But it is also true that it can only be a conspiracy theory if there is NOT an underlying conspiracy. And it is only paranoia if they are NOT all out to get you.
In the case of Tesla, the car and the company, if you eliminate all other possible causes, what remains is the answer. And I have the increasingly uncomfortable feeling that not all is right with the world.
Let’s start with the car. I suppose it’s a matter of opinion, and I’m certainly given to having one, but what is emerging is a stunning lack of challenge to the premise that the Tesla, in all its variants, is the most advanced automobile ever designed and manufactured on purpose, and the best car ever made in all respects. Basically ALL voices and opinions to the contrary have simply disappeared from the scene – poof – gone.
I presume you are aware that the Model 3 won Detroit News magazine’s 2018 Car of the Year award.
As it happens, it was also named car of the year by the Popular Mechanics March 2018 Automotive Excellence awards.
AutoExpress Car of the Year 2019: Tesla Model 3
Automobile Magazine 2018 Design of the Year: Tesla Model 3.
The grandfather of ALL automotive magazines is MOTOR TREND. Motor Trend started publication in September 1949 with the Kurtis Sport Car on the cover. A car so beloved they later acquired one of the 16 ever built for display in their publishing offices.
This magazine has from 1949 existed by the hand of car lovers for car lovers and represents the largest collection of photographic automotive pornography ever assembled by man.
Also in 1949, they named their first CAR OF THE YEAR – the 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Sedanette.
In 2013 they rather shockingly named the Tesla Model S CAR OF THE YEAR with the astonishing admission that, since 1949, there was NEVER A CAR LIKE THIS.
And in 2019 they have named the 2013 Tesla Model S as the ULTIMATE CAR OF THE YEAR – the top CAR OF THE YEAR in seven decades of publication and naming a car of the year every year.
It is refreshing and encouraging that in a world where all our long trusted television news shows, and institutions such as the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been exposed as deeply corrupt rotten to the core partisan organizations infested with dishonesty and corruption, to contemplate for just a moment the integrity of Motor Trend magazine. This is an enterprise that derives almost all its income from printed advertisements carried in the publication. And overwhelmingly those ads are from the automotive industry touting its newest and greatest models. And the magazine has awarded the ultimate car of the year of all cars of the year to a car and a company that has never in its history ever spent a dime on advertising of any kind, and whom if it did advertise it would be highly unlikely to do so in a print magazine.
It is also arguably the safest car ever built. There is actually a current imbroglio over this between Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA tests cars for safety in a number of categories and indeed assign a point score in each category. That then is translated to a “star” rating, with 1 star being very minimal and 5 stars being the maximum that can be awarded. Not only did Tesla achieve a 5 star rating in ALL categories tested, but the point score was the highest ever achieved at NHTSA by any car.
Tesla proudly announced this fact to anyone who would listen. And NHTSA takes strong exception to this. Note that the agency doesn’t actually deny any of Tesla’s claims, but it is incensed that Tesla would divulge point scores or make any statements beyond the official number of stars awarded. This is some sort of governmental attempt to limit what you can say about a publicly funded and governmentally administered test.
So, my claim is that Tesla makes the best automotive vehicle on the planet, barring none, in all respects, including safety. It is just the best car ever built. And I would challenge anyone to demonstrate even partially that this is not so.
Now, there are any number of reasons why people buy the cars they buy. But few actually take aim at being the personal owner of the second best car in the world. It’s like going on allrecipes.com and searching out the second best lasagna recipe. For what???
You might well make the fifth most popular lasagna recipe, because you are vegan and don’t want any meat in your lasagna. But you know you aren’t getting the best.
Let’s take a look at Tesla’s car production figures. It just finished its largest production quarter with some 87,048 vehicles produced. The company delivered over 95,000 vehicles in the quarter, also a record, but that is because 8,000ish vehicles produced in the first quarter were not delivered until the second.
Let’s take a look at a couple of things. Q2 2015, two years after the Model S became widely available, Tesla produced 12,807 vehicles. That’s 679% growth in four years.
Part of the “short thesis” is that Tesla cannot produce enough cars to meet demand. And a second part of the short thesis is that there won’t be demand for the cars it produces. What am I supposed to do with this? Two mutually exclusive and totally unlikely factoids issuing from the same potato disposer simultaneously.
Again, Tesla doesn’t advertise for a very cunning reason. It doesn’t work at all. The public trust in commercial messaging has now broached zero and has gone into negative numbers. Mike’s Pillow really was not the best night’s sleep I ever had. And basically 100% of the public discounts all of 100% of the commercial messaging it sees.
But we do still largely trust our friends and associates. And so if you see a Tesla; better, get to ride in a friend’s Tesla; better yet, he lets you drive the Tesla; then you want one. Period. I’ve never heard of anyone riding in a Tesla who did not immediately conclude that they wanted the car.
Could they afford the car? Did they need a car? Did they already have a car? All open and valid questions. But they did want that one on contact.
I have a couple of viewers who have advised me in the last week they were picking up a Model X and Model 3, respectively. They’ve known about Tesla for years. They have wanted a Tesla for years. They are both buying one this week.
So my claim from observation and intimate knowledge is that Tesla can sell all it can make and it can do so at essentially any price it wants. It is a growing demand and totally inelastic and agnostic. It grows by contact. The more Tesla makes and delivers, the more people have contact with the cars and the more demand is generated for all that Tesla makes.
How far does this extend? How long can you sustain 170% compounded growth?
You know, that should be the defining question. And I’m unusually pleased to note that it is not because it is one of those astonishing things that just tickle my sense of whimsey when I come across them.
EVTV has largely ceased to convert ICE cars to electric drive, which was long our only reason for life. It started in 2009, and while the Tesla Roadster was much discussed, not a single one had ever been actually delivered. If you wanted an electric car in the spring of 2009, you had to build one. There were zero models offered by the sum total of all automotive manufacturers worldwide. We defined, aided, abetted, and enabled the tinkerer/innovator stage of the adoption curve and noted numerous times that on achieving “early adopter” phase we were out of it.
I lied. The outcome was so assured that by 2017 my mind, with the laser-like focus and attention span of a four-year-old, just wandered away. This no longer requires my efforts. The outcome is assured.
And Tesla was largely the reason. Basically, it costs between $20,000–40,000 to do a good build converting an ICE car to electric drive.
Tilt and tittle at that all you want, I did a lot of them and a lot of different ways and several were over $100,000. Not really unusual among custom car enthusiasts and I expect those guys will be doing electric conversion show cars 50 years from now.
The Model 3 at $40,000 is a better car than I can do at $40,000.
Worse, it is kind of a one-sided launch. We covered the news of lots of different electric cars, and most notably hundreds of VW press releases that never were actually cars. And the conclusion was that it just doesn’t matter. Porsche and BMW were the only ones that had the right stuff to compete with Tesla and they didn’t. All else didn’t matter and couldn’t matter. And yes, Porsche’s Taycan will launch this September 4th and they are going to sell 30,000 or 40,000 of them and they still won’t matter.
Tesla just owns it. And at this point, the moats of its battery technology and costing, its Supercharger network, it’s online sales model, the over-the-air software updates, and much much more put it so far out ahead, that the other manufacturers are still announcing the “coming Tesla killer” aimed at the 2013 Tesla Model S. Problem: It is 2019.
And so we basically got out of converting EVs before we got to the early adopter stage. I lied. Because the outcome is not just assured, it is unstoppable.
The commonly held marker for the beginning of Everett Rogers adoption curve early adopter stage is 2.5% market penetration. So, where are we at? The current global market for automobiles is a little squishy on your definition of an automobile, but as a personal transportation device it is currently widely regarded as 78 million units annually with about 15 million in the U.S.
The short thesis is that Tesla cannot possibly meet its projections of 360,000 units this year. Duh. That’s 0.0046 or 0.46% of the market.
All electric cars from everybody all told don’t reach 1% of the market for cars. We aren’t even close to the “early adopter” stage.
I’m at the point where if you don’t have a Tesla logo on your car, you’re not electric and don’t matter. To the point that we are working furiously on things like an OBDII port adapter for the Model 3, or reverse engineering Tesla batteries, not EV batteries, Tesla batteries for solar energy storage. I have a half finished Cadillac Escalade conversion hanging in the air on a lift where it has hung for a year.
But the blue sky for Tesla is essentially unlimited. The company can sell all it makes and make all it sells starting at 360,000 units and topping out at 78 million. It is 0.46% of a $2.3 trillion dollar market. And it appears to my biased eye to already own all of it.
It reminds me of Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone, in the movie Demolition Man. In the future, all restaurants had consolidated under the brand name Taco Bell. If somebody doesn’t do something pretty quickly, in the future all automobiles will be Teslas.
Hyperbole? I grow weak in the knees publicly repeating a prediction I have quietly been making for years. It is so unbelievable all I can harvest from it now is ridicule. But you are not going to believe the big names and huge corporations that face unavoidable and absolute bankruptcy and dismemberment, in the very near future. No government can save them. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs lost. Economic disruption and dislocation of unparalleled proportions. Office furniture available for 6 cents on the dollar. Not reorganization. But like Eastman Kodak. Sears. K-Mart. Companies that could not fail and are already gone. Picture GM, VW, Daimler. The biggest. The best.
Let’s take a look at the awl bidness. Currently we are at 100 million barrels of oil used each day worldwide — 20 million here in the US. At $55 per barrel, that’s about $5.5 billion per day. That’s another $2 trillion world market business. As the percentage of all automobiles that are electric grows, the demand for oil will diminish. Fully 50% of all oil goes to road transport. That is $2.75 billion per day. And for every day that future is delayed, is another $2.75 billion. It would be a $2.75 billion win if the adoption of the electric car could be forestalled for one day. The incremental growth of the automotive market is as I stated, inevitable and unstoppable. But for every day it is delayed, there are billions of dollars at stake. Literally the clock is running at $1,909,722 per minute on just that part of oil used by automobiles.
And it would be unlikely they would find that beneath them. Texaco bought the entire Ovonics nickel-metal hydride battery business from General Motors, with the patents of course. Texaco allowed this battery chemistry for camera and laptop batteries, but specifically refused to license it to anyone in larger sizes suitable for electric cars and that continued until the patents ran out. By then it didn’t matter, the lithium battery was ascendant. But it absolutely delayed the development of electric vehicles by many years.
Stanford Ovshinsky, inventor of this nickel-metal-hydride battery, died in 2012 at the age of 89 still deeply embittered by what General Motors and Texaco, later acquired by Chevron, had done to his baby. Its greatest potential use and the use Ovshinsky specifically developed it for was never realized. They simply bought it and shelved it.
Does that make sense? To spend hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire a promising technology and then shelve it and not worry at all about selling any products from it? Just park it?
Hold that thought.
Now let’s take a look at Tesla [TSLA] short interest. These are people who ostensibly sell a stock they don’t own, and hold it until the price goes down, and then buy shares on the open market to pay back the stock they borrowed to sell in the first place. The concept is of course sell high and buy low. But kind of in reverse. You sell it before you own it. And you buy it when it is discovered that you don’t and you have to pay it back. But if you sell at $360 and the stock drops to $175, you get to buy back at less money and you keep the difference.
Let’s look at short interest in the stock of Tesla. First, this is not usual. This is not normal. All stocks have people hedging and shorting. Even people long on a stock will hedge with some short bets. Indeed, at one point I had 50,000 shares of a company called Keynote Systems that were not really tradable. I had invested in the company long before it went public and so faced a “lockup” period where I couldn’t sell the shares. So I sold them “short against the box” before the expiry of the lockup period. When it expired, everybody was unlocked and a lot of the early investors sold the stock, plummeting it from $140 a share to $60. Netting me $80 per share and I still owned the original 50,000 shares. Unfortunately, the stock never recovered and I think I later sold it out at about $40 per share.
Tesla hit a high of about $379 last year on rumors Elon Musk was taking it private. I was astonished to see multiple news stories this month celebrating the news that Elon Musk had been caught in a lie regarding funding secured on his move to privatize the company.
This is astonishing on several levels. First, if all true, why would we be seeing news stories a year later reminding us of something unimportant from a year ago. But second, it never was true in the first round. It’s kind of like Trump’s Charlottesville massacre. It never was true at all, but if you repeat it enough times enough people will be fooled to be effective?
The Saudi prince head of a national investment fund devoted to alternate energy investments is lobbying Elon Musk to take the company private. He is demanding it. And he has a hundred billion to spend on the project. What part of “funding secured” am I missing here? If you have a Saudi Prince with $100 billion burning a hole in his pocket standing on your desk stomping his little Saudi foot insisting that you do it his way, how much more strain do you want to put on the term “secured?”
Tesla did not fail to take the company private because it didn’t have funding. Elon is not precisely a genius on the byzantine world of public stocks. A large percentage of Tesla investors are institutional “funds” and by their fund charters are severely limited on how much of their holdings can be illiquid. That means typically that no more than 10% of their holdings could be in private companies. And as Elon owned 25% of the company at the time, he couldn’t get the votes from these funds to do the deal. It would mean the funds had to get out, and they didn’t want out.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t get the funding to do the deal. He couldn’t get 50% shareholder approval even with his 25%. Oh, he might have, but a large segment would have voted against, including me, and it would have been an ugly fight. So the idea died. But it never died from lack of funding. So understand that all reporting on this matter fully qualifies under the Trump definition of fake news. That is not incorrect news. Or inaccurate news. fake news means it is developed entirely against all known facts for nefarious and partisan reasons by design. And Musk’s “funding secured” controversy is entirely fake news. And if it were real news, why would they repeat it a year later? It only makes sense if it is fake news, has a nefarious purpose, and so any opportunity to repeat it is to the original purpose – to mislead the public.
So Tesla reached $379. And had you been short, and held on, you would be delighted to learn that Tesla’s Q1 2019 featured a plunge in sales and a huge loss, after reporting a profit in the previous Q4. And indeed we see that short holdings dropped from 26,268,029 to 24,783,245 as shorts cashed in. 1,484,784 shares were covered. They bought at the lower price and pocketed the savings.
I can get with that. It seems like an unusual number are betting things will get worse and hanging in there. Indeed, an entirely unnatural number. But it is worse than that. Over the next two months, short interest actually rose to 37,925,793. What?
In May, the stock dipped to its lowest value in years, a great opportunity to cover and take your victory lap. Barely 400,000 shares did just that. But that’s out of 37 million. Indeed, they shorted again to 43,664,833. This is 34% of the tradable shares. Understand that no company in the history of the stock market has ever carried 34% short sale. It’s not unusual. It just doesn’t happen at all.
In June, Tesla announced an all-time high water market for auto deliveries of over 95,000 cars. And some of the shorts remaining got out. Well, short interest went down to 41,459,952, where it has held steady for over a month while Tesla crushes it on one announcement after another. Tesla has now introduced a 3MWh 1.5MW battery pack aimed directly at competing with natural gas peaker plants that basically cannot ever lose a cost comparison.
Shorts don’t behave this way. They sell high, buy low, and pocket the difference. That is if they are in it to make money. These shorts keep doubling down and they increase their sales as Tesla succeeds. At this point, you have a company that is growing its production at an exponential rate, growing its revenues at an exponential rate, has the best product in the entire market, with unlimited demand in a market it owns outright just 0.46% of. It is the ultimate growth stock in the ultimate market with unlimited blue sky – room to grow.
Oh, and did I mention Tesla can raise any amount of money it likes, at any time, on three days notice? The last three calls for capital have taken less than a week and were oversubscribed in all cases. Tesla raised more money than it asked for.
So we have exponential growth, into an unlimited market, with unlimited capital ready and waiting to invest. What kind of moron bets against that?
Well, the concept of them being a moron implies the assumption they are trying to make money in the first place. What if they had no desire to make money at all?
The entire 41 million short interest represents an investment at the current $235 per share of $9.635 billion.
What if it’s not an investment at all? What if it’s an expense?
Elon Musk has since upped his stake to 38.6 million. Why? Did he need more shares? The cash was clogging up the vacuum cleaners in his house?
The company can’t be bought. And Musk doesn’t want to die a bitter old man at 89. But the SEC can be bought, apparently. And while they investigate, fulminate, and litigate Musk’s tweeting style, what starts to look like the largest stock manipulation in the history of the United States of America is going on as we speak. Is it possible they don’t know about it? In a word, no. It is not possible that a stock swindle of this proportion could be going on without the express and direct participation of the Securities and Exchange Commission charged by law with preventing it. Absolute corruption corrupts absolutely, to misquote a phrase.
The nickel metal-hydride battery was purchased in an asset purchase between two publicly traded corporations. Tesla is itself publicly traded and Musk owns enough of it that purchasing it and dismembering it is just not conceptually feasible. But this level of stock manipulation, coupled with a funded and directed disinformation campaign, could conceivably drive it to failure.
And at $5.5 billion per day, simply delaying the inevitable is very profitable on a total expense of $10 billion. The payback period on that is less than two days.
I still see articles explaining why batteries feature more emissions than gasoline cars. All funded by industry groups and advocacies that one off, two off, or sometimes three off lead directly to oil companies. So, paid for disinformation campaigns are an absolutely established mode of operation for these companies. Why would they hesitate at stock manipulation to foster fear, uncertainty, and doubt? And who in the auto industry would call them out on it? GM and Texaco conspired. There were no questions or unforeseens. It was a conspiracy to defeat the concept of electric cars.
I was shocked to learn that Jeffery Epstein had a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine submit a story on him so laudatory as to be creepy. What was shocking was not that he did it or that the writer agreed to do it, but how cheaply he sold his soul. A couple grand goes a long way with today’s writers.
And so I am also a bit naive about online comments. I assume that they are all the true beliefs of the writers. So how does Seeking Alpha have 100% negative articles on Tesla with amazing collections of preposterous facts? There’s actually a very easy explanation. They get paid. And they get paid truly trivial amounts of money. A soul today goes for less than $5 per pound. You can’t buy ribeye for that.
$4.3 trillion combined annual market between autos and oil. A puny $10 billion in “expense” — not investment. And a 32% short interest suddenly makes all the sense in the world. There can’t be that many crackpots that will bet against a company with superb execution, unlimited capital, and unlimited opportunity growing on an exponential curve. But if you are just investing in their failure, with that kind of real market at stake, the stock market looks like penny ante poker.
I have no interest in tracking the money or reading the chicken entrails. I already know how this comes out. The irony is double. It looks like the oil companies and automakers have no possibility of losing this one. In reality, they have no way to win it. One man has them totally surrounded, outnumbered, and outgunned.
Bite it bitch.
And bury me next to Seth Rich.
All images courtesy: Jack Rickard
Republished with permission.
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