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Tax Reform Is Another Catalyst For Tesla Inc (TSLA) Going To Zero: Stanphyl

tesla solar installations
3dman_eu / Pixabay

Our lousy performance this year was primarily due to our short position in Tesla, whereby despite having an overwhelming number of facts on our side (detailed, as usual, below) the stock was up nearly 46%. However, following a considerable amount of recent bad news for the company that trend may have finally reversed, and the stock now trades below its 200-day moving average. Although as a value investor it’s been tough to find new companies cheap enough to buy in this free-money-driven “everything bubble,” this month we did add a couple of new “deep value” long positions while we continue to have a number of short positions that I think will work out quite profitably in 2018.

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In December Congress passed a tax reform bill that left the $7500 electric vehicle tax credit in place, and thanks to its gradual phase-out provision Tesla buyers will thus be able to apply the full credit to approximately 100,000 more U.S. market cars in 2018. After that however, Tesla will have a major price disadvantage vs. over 100 new EV models entering the market over the next few years as its credits will have expired (after first being cut to $3750 and then $1875 during the phase-out period) while much of the competition is just getting started with a full $7500 credit. Additionally, pricing for much of that new competition will be cross-subsidized by highly profitable conventionally powered trucks and SUVs. So if you think Tesla loses a lot of money now trying to sell cars (and it sure does!), wait until you see what happens in late 2018!

Also in December, Tesla claimed several hundred “reservations” from “marquee names” such as Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch and UPS for its attempt at a Ponzi-financed electric semi-truck (not to be confused with its Ponzi-financed Roadster— in fact the whole company is becoming a maker of electric Madoff-mobiles) yet those companies explicitly refused to say whether they’d given Tesla any money up-front. So here’s what almost certainly happened here: Musk (or one of his salespeople) called those companies and said “Hey, if in a few years I can charge you $180,000 for a 500-mile electric semi-truck with a one million-mile warranty and electricity subsidized at .07/kWh and I don’t charge you anything up front, could we tell the media that you’ve made some ‘reservations’?” Is there any company in America that wouldn’t happily embellish its “environmental image” by agreeing to that? Now here’s what will really happen…

I (and many others) estimate that a 500-mile electric truck will require a 1000/kWh battery pack and—with its fancy carbon fiber cab and chassis– will thus cost at least $250,000 to build. Additionally, Tesla is guaranteeing to cap electricity rates at .07/kWh for the first million miles of the truck’s usage; as national rates average around .12/kWh, I estimate this will cost Tesla—on average—an additional $100,000 for each truck it sells, meaning it will supposedly charge $180,000 for a product that will cost around $350,000 to build and subsidize– a typical Musk “business proposition” if I’ve ever heard one! In other words, the Tesla semi-truck will either never be built and sold (hey by the way—where’s the factory and assembly line for that “2019 product”?) or the real price (with the lifetime .07/kWh electricity subsidy) will be around $400,000 (vs. $120,000 for a conventional truck) and all those big-name “reservations” will disappear even faster than the proceeds from a Tesla financing. And oh, by the way, Tesla is actually behind much of the industry in developing an electric truck.

Finally in December, Tesla’s battery supplier Panasonic announced a partnership with Toyota (and possibly other Japanese automakers) that casts a spotlight on how technologically behind Tesla’s cylindrical battery format now is. I urge you to read this excellent summary of the event from The Daily Kanban.

If you’re looking forward to seeing Tesla’s Q4 results, here’s a great summary of what a disaster to expect despite the record number of “deliveries” the company will report in early January. Meanwhile in November Tesla reported an awful Q3, with a record quarterly loss of $619 million (on track to be even worse in 2018) and over $1.6 billion in negative free cash flow. Massive discounting drove automotive

ross margin all the way down to 18.3%, a number already grossly inflated by Tesla’s non-standard calculation method, something I wrote about back in 2014. Tesla also pushed back by three months its prediction of when it would be making 5000 Model 3s a week, a delay that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t complete and total bullshit. Additionally, the company refused to reiterate at all that it would be making 10,000 Model 3s a week by late 2018, despite Musk’s statement on the Q2 call just three months earlier that “what people should have absolutely zero concern about is that Tesla will achieve a 10,000 unit production week by the end of next year.” In fact, Tesla now admits that it hasn’t even begun to implement the capacity needed to enable such a production rate. (The discovery process during the multiple ongoing shareholder fraud lawsuits should be fun.) It’s also important to note that the battery storage division had a horrendous negative 33% gross margin, and I urge all of you to listen to the audio from the conference call (don’t just read the transcript!) as it’s one of the most (unintentionally) hilarious things you’ll hear all year!

When the Model 3 eventually does go into real production it will be a huge sales disappointment, as reservation holders realize that only around 100,000 of them will qualify for the full $7500 credit and almost nothing can be done in the car without a multi-step process on the touchscreen—not even changing the windshield-wiper speed, adjusting the air vents or opening the glovebox. Thus, operating a Tesla Model 3 may potentially be as dangerous as texting while driving! And of course Tesla will make little (if any) money on the car, as it currently loses a fortune on models starting at twice the price.

Meanwhile, Tesla is increasingly besieged by a wide variety of lawsuits, for labor discrimination, union-busting, autopilot fraud, sudden acceleration, lemon law violations, investor fraud and, undoubtedly, many others of which I’m not yet aware. And that’s even before it brings in the (inevitable) bankruptcy lawyers!

So here is Tesla’s competition in cars (note: these links are continually updated)…

CHEVROLET BOLT EV: THE 2017 MOTOR TREND CAR OF THE YEAR

GM to introduce 3 more electric cars before 2020, battery cells at <$100/kWh

2018 Nissan Leaf debuts: 150 miles for $30,875, 200-plus mile model by late 2018

Jaguar’s All-Electric I-Pace Could Start At $76,000 

Audi Launching Three Pure Electric Cars Beginning 2018

Audi will build EVs in factories worldwide, CEO says

VW to spend €34 billion on electric mobility & autonomous driving in 2018-2022

Honda to launch two new electric cars in 2018

2018 Hyundai Kona Electric SUV Will Have 220 Mile Range

14 new EV models by Hyundai-Kia by 2025

Porsche Mission E: several variants due to satisfy surging electrified car sales

Mercedes Announces First EQ Production for 2019

Mercedes spending €10 billion to electrify its entire lineup

Daimler Trucks launches E-FUSO and all-electric heavy-duty truck Vision One

Electric Land Rover “Road Rover” to launch in 2019

Volvo to Go Electric by 2019

Volvo’s Polestar reveals its vision to be the new electric performance brand

Toyota, Mazda, Denso create company to roll out electric cars beginning 2019

Infiniti Performance EV On Sale In 2019

PSA will launch full-electric Peugeot 208 and DS 3 Crossback in 2019

Seat to launch first electric car in 2019

Ford to increase EV offerings beyond 2020 300-mile electric crossover

Ford mulls building electric van in Germany

Opel bets on electric power in bid for profitability

Skoda Vision E revealed for 2020 production

MG E-Motion confirms new EV sports car on the way by 2020

Dyson looks to launch first electric car by 2020

BMW previews 2021 electric i5 production model

BMW to have 25 electrified models by 2025

Toyota to market over 10 battery EV models in early 2020s

235mph Lucid Air due in 2019 as electric BMW 7 Series rival

Renault to have 8 pure electric models by 2022

Rolls-Royce is preparing electric Phantom for 2022

Citroen preparing EV push with 80 per cent electrified range by 2023

Honda will offer full-EV or hybrid tech on every European model by 2025

Electric Kia Stinger GT to rival Tesla Model 3

Bentley plan for electric and hybrid car roll-out is well advanced

Maserati executive confirms electric Alfieri

Subaru to introduce all-electric vehicles by 2021

Faraday Future raises £747 million for 2018 Production

Borgward BXi7 Electric SUV Flies Under The Radar

Detroit Electric promises 3 cars in 3 years

Two new electric cars from Mahindra in India by 2019; Global Tesla rival e-car soon

Saab asset owner NEVS plans electric car production

And in China…


BYD Plans to Expand Daimler Partnership With New EVs for China

Daimler to invest $755 million in China EV, battery output

Daimler, BAIC agree to make electric cars in China

Volkswagen Plans $12 Billion Electric-Car Blitz in China

GM plans to launch 10 new energy models in China by 2020

Audi and FAW sign China electric car cooperation deal

Ford ramps up electric vehicle push in China

China’s BYD has overtaken Tesla in the battery and electric car business

SAIC to spend $2.2 billion on EVs, connectivity, aftersales services

Toyota to re-enter EV sector starting in China from 2020

Renault, Nissan, Dongfeng Motor partner to develop electric cars in China

Renault-Nissan Alliance To Electrify China’s Trucks And Vans

NIO’s ES8 is China’s answer to the Tesla Model X – at about half the price

Geely’s Volvo gears up to make electric cars in China

Changan Spending $15 billion To Have 21 Pure Electric Cars By 2025

Chery Breaks Ground on $240M EV Factory in China

Chery’s second EV plant open in Dezhou

Leapmotor’s electric car to hit the market in 2018

Tesla Model 3 Watch Out: Here Is The XPeng Identity X

WM Motor Technology to put ‘Weltmeister’ electric car brand on road in 2018

GAC Begins Construction of $6.5 Billion Industrial Park to Boost EV Business

China e-car venture Future Mobility names brand Byton, eyes U.S., Europe

Honda to debut electric vehicle in China next year

The Singulato iS6 From China Is Aimed At The Tesla Model 3

Quianu Motor aims to grab share of US electric vehicle market

NEVS receives approval for electric car factory with capacity of 200,000 units per year

Wanxiang Gets China Electric Vehicle Permit to Make Karma Cars

Qoros Debuts Its Super EV at 2017 Shanghai Auto Show

Thunder Power electric cars at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show

Here’s Tesla’s competition in autonomous driving…

An Overview of Audi Piloted Driving

Waymo is first to put fully self-driving cars on US roads without a safety driver

Cadillac Super Cruise™ Sets the Standard for Hands-Free Highway Driving

GM and Cruise on track to field a self-driving ride hailing service by 2019

Updated 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class – first ride with autonomous technology

Volvo Promises Uber Fleet of Self-Driving Taxis By 2019

Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz to bring an AI car to market within a year

NVIDIA and Toyota Collaborate to Accelerate Market Introduction of Autonomous Cars

Audi and NVIDIA team up to bring fully automated driving accelerated with artificial intelligence

NVIDIA Partners with Bosch for System Based on Next-Generation DRIVE PX Xavier Platform

Bosch and Daimler join forces to market fully automated, driverless taxis by 2020

Volkswagen and Mobileye sign agreement to develop autonomous driving

Toyota, Intel and others form big data group for autonomous tech

Nissan’s Robo-Taxis Will Hit the Road in March

Nissan and Mobileye to generate, share, and utilize vision data for crowdsourced mapping

Magna joins the BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye platform as an Integrator for AVs

Intel collaborates with Waymo on self-driving compute design

Fiat Chrysler to Join BMW, Intel and Mobileye in Developing Autonomous Driving Platform

Continental Joins Autonomous Driving Platform from BMW, Intel & Mobileye as System Integrator

Continental Sees Huge Growth in Automated Driving, Unveils Mobility Tech

Delphi acquires autonomous vehicle software supplier NuTonomy

Ford expands fleet of self-driving test cars

Ford Buys Laser System Firm as It Boosts Driverless Car Development

Hyundai Presents Autonomous IONIQ Electric Prototype at 2017 CES

Lyft and Waymo Reach Deal to Collaborate on Self-Driving Cars

Lyft teams up with NuTonomy to put ‘thousands’ of self-driving cars on the road

Magna’s new MAX4 self-driving platform offers autonomy up to Level 4

Bosch Creates a Map That Uses Radar Signals for Automated Driving

Honda Targeting Level 3 Automated Driving By 2020, Level 4 by 2025

Groupe PSA’s safe and intuitive autonomous car tested by the general public

Baidu plans to mass produce Level 4 self-driving cars with BAIC by 2021

Tencent is reportedly testing its own autonomous driving system

JD.com Delivers on Self-Driving Electric Trucks

NAVYA Unveils First Fully Autonomous Taxi

Fujitsu and HERE to partner on advanced mobility services and autonomous driving

Lucid Chooses Mobileye as Partner for Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Apple Is Focusing on Making an Autonomous Car System

Samsung enters autonomous driving race with new business, funding

BlackBerry Is Pushing Software for Driverless Cars

Mitsubishi Electric Develops Automated Mapping For Autonomous Driving

Hitachi demonstrates vehicle with 11-function autonomous driving ECU

DENSO and NEC Collaborate on Automated Driving and Manufacturing

Who Leads the Autonomous Driving Patent Race?

Here’s Tesla’s competition in car batteries…

LG Chem targets electric car battery sales of $6.3 billion in 2020

Samsung Introduces New High-tech EV Batteries

SK Innovation to produce EV batteries with 500 km range in 2018

New Toshiba EV Battery Allows 320km Charge in 6 Minutes

Daimler to ramp up battery production

General Motors China To Open Battery Factory In Shanghai

Panasonic Opens New Automotive Lithium-Ion Battery Factory in Dalian, China

Panasonic forms battery partnership with Toyota

China to build many gigafactories’ worth of electric-car battery plants

China’s BYD takes aim at Tesla in battery factory race

Contemporary Amperex’s Chinese battery factory will be bigger than Tesla’s Gigafactory

Contemporary Amperex building an EV battery/drivetrain facility in Europe
Energy Absolute Plots Asian Project Rivaling Musk’s Gigafactory

ABB teams up with Northvolt on Europe’s biggest battery plant

Sokon aims to be global provider of battery, electric motor, electric control systems

BMW Group invests 200 million euros in Battery Cell Competence Centre

BMW Brilliance Automotive opens battery factory in Shenyang

BMW announces partnership with solid-state battery company

Toyota promises auto battery ‘game-changer’

Hyundai Motor developing solid-state EV batteries

Honda considers developing all solid-state EV batteries

Continental eyes investment in solid-state batteries

Wanxiang is playing to win, even if it takes generations

UK provides millions to help build more electric vehicle batteries

Rimac is going to mass produce batteries and electric motors for OEMs

Elon Musk Has A New Battery Rival (Romeo Power) Packed With His Ex-Employees

Bosch May Invest 20 Billion Euros in Solid-State Battery Production for EVs

Bracing for EV shift, NGK Spark Plug ignites all solid-state battery quest

ProLogium Technology Will Produce First Next Generation Lithium Ceramic Battery For EVs

Here’s Tesla’s competition in storage batteries…

Panasonic

Samsung

LG

BYD

AES + Siemens (Fluence)

Mitsubishi

NEC

Hitachi

ABB

Saft

EnerSys

GS Yuasa

E.ON

SOLARWATT

Daimler

Schneider Electric

sonnenBatterie

Kokam

Sharp

Nissan – Eaton

Tesvolt

Kreisel

Leclanche

Lockheed Martin

EOS Energy Storage

Energy Storage Systems Inc.

UniEnergy Technologies

electrIQ

Belectric

Sunverge

Stem

Green Charge Networks

Imergy Power

Exergonix

Redflow

Renault

Fluidic Energy

Primus Power

Simpliphi Power

redT Energy Storage

Bluestorage

Adara

Blue Planet

Clean Energy Storage Inc.

Swell Energy

Tabuchi Electric

Younicos

Orison

Moixa

Powin Energy

Nidec

Powervault

ViZn Energy

Schmid

24M

Terra E

And here’s Tesla’s competition in charging networks…

ELECTRIFY AMERICA UNVEILS FIRST $300M OF $2B INVESTMENT IN ZEV INFRASTRUCTURE

EVgo Installing First 350 kW Ultra Fast Public Charging Station In The US

BMW and Volkswagen Take on Tesla Motors With a New U.S. Fast-Charging Network

Tritium’s First 350-kW DC Fast Chargers Coming To U.S.

Porsche is bringing its ultra-fast electric car charging stations to the US

Nissan and EVgo to build i-95 Fast-Charge ARC connecting Boston and Washington D.C.

Shell, BMW, Daimler, Ford, VW, Audi & Porsche form IONITY European 350kw Charging Network

E.ON to have 10,000 150KW TO 350KW EV charging points across Europe by 2020

Chargepoint Europe Gets $82 million in new funding from Daimler

ChargePoint – InstaVolt partnership; more than 200 UK rapid charge systems

ChargePoint Express Plus Debuts: Offers Industry High 400 kW DC Fast Charging

Fastned building 150kw-350kw chargers in Europe

ABB powers e-mobility with launch of first 150-350 kW high power charger

DBT unveils the 1st 150 kW universal ultra-fast charging station 

5 European fast charging networks form Open Fast Charging Alliance

Shell buys European electric vehicle charging pioneer NewMotion

BP in talks with electric carmakers on service station chargers

Total planning EV charging points at its French stations

Yet despite all that deep-pocketed competition, perhaps you want to buy shares of Tesla because you believe in its management team. Really???

Tesla SEC Correspondence Shows A Pattern Of Inaccurate, Incomplete & Misleading Disclosures

Tesla: Check Your Full Self-Driving Snake Oil Expiration Date

As Musk Hyped and Happy-Talked Investors, Tesla Kept Quiet About a Year-Long SEC Probe

The Truth Is Catching Up With Tesla

With Misleading Messages And Customer NDAs, Tesla Performs Stealth Recall

Who You Gonna Believe? Elon Musk’s Words Or Your Own Lying Eyes?

How Tesla and Elon Musk Exaggerated Safety Claims About Autopilot and Cars

When Is Enough Enough With Elon Musk?

Musk Talked Merger With SolarCity CEO Before Tesla Stock Sale

Debunking The Tesla Mythology

Tesla Continues To Mislead Consumers

Tesla Misses The Point With Fortune Autopilot Story

Tesla Timeline Shows Musk’s Morality Is Highly Convenient

Tesla Scares Customers With Worthless NDAs, The Daily Kanban Talks To Lawyers

Tesla: Contrary To The Official Story, Elon Musk Is Selling To Keep Cash

Tesla: O, What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive

I Put 20 Refundable Deposits On The Tesla Model 3

Tesla’s Financial Shenanigans

Tesla: A Failure To Communicate

Can You Really Trust Tesla?

Elon Musk Appears To Have Misled Investors On Tesla’s Most Recent Conference Call

Understanding Tesla’s Potemkin Swap Station

Tesla’s Amazing Powerwall Reservations

So in summary, Tesla is losing a massive amount of money even before it faces a huge onslaught of competition (and things will only get worse once it does), while its fully diluted market cap (assuming 177 million shares “all-in”) exceeds that of Ford and almost equals that of GM despite a nearly two-billion-dollar annualized net loss selling just 100,000 cars while Ford and GM make billions of dollars selling 6.6 million and 9 million cars respectively. Thus this cash-burning Musk vanity project is worth vastly less than its nearly $64 billion fully-diluted enterprise value and—thanks to its roughly $10 billion in debt—may eventually be worth “zero.”