Tesla’s resurgence has delighted its shareholders and fans, its longtime believers and recent converts. Last year’s dismal collapsing stock valuation and CEO Elon Musk’s embarrassing public displays are nearly forgotten as the Tesla brand now shines — it’s amazing what a series of positive media stories about the all-electric company’s innovations can do to generate company buzz.
The question is, though, can the company sustain its current glow?
Tesla’s Resurgence: Lookin’ Good
Q2 sales spectacular: As our editor Zachary Shahan wrote, Tesla shattered Wall Street expectations with its Q2 2023 sales report. Tesla was the largest seller of EVs in the US, with more than 175,000 transacted, an increase of 34.8% quarter over quarter. Its Model Y SUV has become the world’s best-selling vehicle — not EV, but vehicle. Tesla outsold second place Chevrolet’s EVs 10 to one in the second quarter.
The Supercharger network continues to impress: Tesla has forged agreements to open up its fast charging network with Ford, General Motors, Rivian, and Volvo. Tesla Superchargers account for about 60% of the total fast chargers in the US and Canada, according to US Department of Energy data. The JD Power 2023 US Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study looks at how likely buyers are to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase, and buyers who chose Tesla noted that charging convenience and availability put Tesla at the top of their preferred list. A report by Piper Sandler suggests that Tesla has the potential to generate $3 billion in profits by 2030 through making its network available to other automakers. Shares of EV charging startups like ChargePoint and EVgo have fallen rapidly as so many companies jump on the Supercharger bandwagon.
The Model Y keeps on giving: Between January and May 2023, drivers in the US registered twice as many new Tesla Model Y SUVs as last year, according to Experian. In fact, the Model Y was responsible for the majority of global EV growth, which expanded by 103% between January and May. The Model Y is available starting at $47,740.
More EVs in the future mean more Tesla sales: The EPA in April proposed 2027–2032 vehicle standards that would cut emissions by 56% and result in an estimated 60% of new vehicles by 2030 being electric and 67% by 2032. Tesla said in comments it wants the EPA to adopt a tougher plan that would ensure more than 69% of vehicles in 2032 are EVs, as reported by Reuters. Puerile humor aside, pushing EV adoption upward would be another positive for Tesla.
Tesla stock value — optimistic reigns: Tesla stock has more than doubled year to date and is higher by nearly 50% over the past three months. The Motley Fool this week said that the rebound in the market — and Tesla stock in particular — has brought the share price “back to nosebleed levels.” Add to that the company’s revenue from energy generation and storage, which grew nearly 150% year over year, reached more than $1.5 billion in the first quarter, and represented 6.5% of the company’s total revenue.
The Fool anticipates that this segment of Tesla should also continue to grow, as the company has invested heavily to grow its facilities in Nevada and California. As if that is not impressive enough, ARK’s updated open-source Tesla model yields an expected value per share of $2,000 in 2027. Yikes!
Tesla’s sale model anticipated dealer ennui: Legacy auto dealers have been in the news lately as they wring their proverbial hands over EVs sitting on their lots unsold. The EV learning curve for auto dealers is quite steep, and dealers haven’t made it a priority to train staff or offer customer workshops in driving an EV. Tesla foresaw the need to empower customers to drive EVs and started selling its cars online more than 10 years ago, circumventing the traditional dealer model and reaching out to consumers directly in a way that’s profitable for Tesla.
Tesla’s Resurgence: Sometimes Uncertain
France gets in line for a Gigafactory: While Tesla has just recently announced plans to construct a new Gigafactory in Mexico, the automaker is already looking to invest in other new factories and gigafactories. CEO Elon Musk recently met with French President Emmanuel Macron. After Musk met with French government officials as part of a future production site exploration, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he was “very hopeful” Tesla will pick France for a substantial investment linked to the production of EVs in Europe.
Tesla to expand to India? Tesla is also discussing an investment proposal with the Indian government to set up a factory with an annual capacity to produce about half a million electric vehicles. The on-again, off-again discussions resumed in May, focusing on incentives being offered by the Indian government for Tesla vehicles and battery manufacturing. According to Reuters, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing Tesla to make a “significant investment” in the country.
Over-the-air updates indicate problems and fixes: Small Tesla vehicle updates and “recalls” continually create a negative Tesla media frenzy. Earlier this month, the company released an over-the-air software update that included a convenience feature requested by many Model 3 and Model Y owners — easier windshield wiper controls. Now users can adjust the speed of their windshield wipers directly from the steering wheel, without having to activate the wipers first. Customization updates like this teases Tesla fans and whets the appetite for constant — and unrealistic — Tesla growth.
Tesla tax credits aren’t indefinite: Tesla revealed on its website last week that federal tax credits for the Model 3 car are expected to decrease at the end of the year. According to a letter sent to owners, “The $7,500 federal tax credit will likely decrease after December 31, 2023 for some models. New Model 3 and Model Y vehicles delivered by December 31, 2023 still qualify for the full credit.” Qualifications the website lists include customers must buy it for their own use, not for resale; the vehicle should be primarily used in the US; and, there are Adjusted Gross Income (“AGI”) limitations and MSRP price caps. The admonition is a sign that even Tesla knows the future is not all rosy.
Nod to China’s socialism ruffles ideological feathers back home: At the beginning of July, Tesla agreed at a Shanghai conference to promote “core socialist values” as part of a pledge to the Chinese auto industry. The 4-point pledge reportedly involved agreeing not to engage in “abnormal” pricing, to prioritize quality, and to not use false publicity. The pledge promises to “take on the heavy responsibility of maintaining steady growth, strengthening confidence, and preventing risk.”
Layoffs for Shanghai workers? Five weeks after Musk regaled the Tesla Shanghai workers for their resilience “for burning the 3 am oil,” Tesla began laying off some staff at its Gigafactory in Shanghai, according to Reuters. Exact numbers of battery production staff layoffs are unknown, and some workers were given the option to transfer to another part of the factory. The battery production department makes up fewer than 1,000 of that gigafactory’s 20,000 staff.
Time to make room in the EV marketplace? Tesla’s share of the US EV market slipped below 60% for the first time as more competitors introduced compelling and popular EVs. They’ll have lots of false starts, of course, as they adjust to the entire production and sales cycle of EVs. Then again, the Model S sedan ($88,490) saw a stunning 59% drop. How other automakers impact the Tesla brand may be the greatest deciding factor of all as to how Tesla will fare in the long term.
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