Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA): More Than Meets The Eye?

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA): More Than Meets The Eye?
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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) unveiled dual motor versions of the Model S last week, and as expected, analysts are excited about them. Morgan Stanley analysts believe there’s “something far bigger” going on with the automaker. While Stifel analysts applauded the new Model S versions and the technology they bring.

Tesla’s PR strategy

Interestingly, both Morgan Stanley and Stifel analysts mentioned Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s PR and communications strategy. In their report dated Oct. 10, 2014, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas and his team called the automaker’s marketing and PR power “formidable.” When CEO Elon Musk tweeted something about unveiling their “D,” the Twitter-verse was alive with the snarky comments of those who had dirty ideas about what he meant.

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Musk tweeted later that he didn’t mean to spark those kinds of comments, but it’s worth questioning whether he did or not. He certainly got a lot of free publicity and advertising by doing that.

Jonas and his team said Tesla manages to “help showcase talent, sells cars and creates real shareholder value.” They believe the company’s strategy is pressuring other automakers to keep up, noting that others spend billions of dollars for less attention.

“Elon’s infectious enthusiasm for his product makes customers and observers feel like they are part of something exciting, something bigger than just cars,” the Morgan Stanley team wrote.

Tesla needs a communication strategy

In his report also dated Oct. 10, 2014, Stifel analyst James Albertine said he thinks Tesla needs a better team to focus on communications. Without actually referencing the nature of Musk’s tweet, it seems pretty clear that he didn’t think much of the effort.

“We believe TSLA managers and engineers are very smart in their own right, but stylistically, we would leave the tweeting to the tech companies with sub-$1k product price points.”

This seems like somewhat odd comment in light of how much publicity Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has managed to attract through Twitter, but it does also suggest that someone who is more experienced in PR should take over the reins. The Stifel analyst also noted that Simon Sproule, vice president of communications, is leaving Tesla to go to Aston Margin.

At the time the announcement was made, he didn’t think much of it. However, he thinks it could be more important because he believes “the genius of communication may revolve around the organized scarcity of information.” As a result, he said Tesla could be affected by this change in senior management.

Getting down to Tesla’s D

In their report, Jonas and his team highlighted the technology changes Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is making to the Model S. He gave “kudos” to the automaker for forging ahead with its auto-pilot features while other automakers are “still cowering behind legal / liability concerns.”

They also said that the new technology could change views that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) only makes electric vehicles. They think the company’s skills in machine learning and also autonomous driving could set it apart even more than the electric power train the company makes. They add that the automaker can continue to enhance its products through the over-the-air updates, further pushing it ahead of competitors.

In his report, Albertine said he was “impressed” by the dual motor version of the Model S. He expects the D versions of the sedan will be very competitive at the higher price points. He sees this as being a good move for Tesla as it continues to gain share in the luxury auto maker.

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