Has Tesla Motors Inc Sunk Itself With the Model X?

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Has Tesla Sunk Itself With the Model X? It may be fatally fascinating. Excerpted from an email Whitney Tilson sent to investors

Interesting article (below):

Tesla just needs a crossover to flesh out its showroom, preferably one with a sub-six-figure price. Instead, the hysterically complicated Model X may prove to be the noose from which Tesla swings. The car is at least two years overdue and far more complicated than it needs to be. The giant curved windshield, the sensor-studded self-opening front doors, those “falcon wings,” which rise at the speed of two arthritic old stage hands hauling up a Broadway curtain—they’re all fascinating but unnecessary. The X would be a challenge for Toyota to build profitably, much less Tesla.

There’s a feeling in Silicon Valley that the only problem with the auto industry is that the likes of Apple or Google hasn’t yet hosed it with its genius. Eager young minds, certain of their infallibility. Musk said he didn’t want to be another automaker that unveils beautiful show cars but sells dull conventionality. He’s about to find out why concept cars stay concepts. The doors were among the X’s novel systems that proved fussy at the Fremont launch party. I boldly predict that the X will be a warranty nightmare when it should have been a simple platform variant to rake in more cash.

Long-established car companies get to screw up. VW will survive Dieselgate, as Toyota survived Accelerationgate and GM survived Ignitionswitchgate. But Tesla does not have the profits—indeed, any lasting profits—to weather a dud. Which is perhaps why, as I write this, investors are skeptical about the stock when, if anything, they should be rhapsodic over the new model and Tesla’s fledgling battery business.


I’m willing to bet that it’s an incredible car, however, and that I’d fall deeply in love with it if I got one (especially being the gadget hound that I am).


Which brings me to my current dilemma…


A couple of years ago, I put down a (fully refundable) $5,000 deposit on a Model X and was told that I was #10,128 in line.


On 12/21, I got this email from Tesla:


Dear Whitney,

Today is an exciting step towards building your Model X. We’re thrilled to invite you to configure your car for production.

Model X combines the utility of an SUV with Tesla’s standard of safety, all-wheel drive functionality and signature performance. With its distinctive falcon wing doors and seat configuration for up to seven people, Model X is designed to be even more practical than a typical SUV in every way. Click below to get started:

Configure Now

Estimated delivery timing will depend on your configuration options and where you plan to take delivery. The Tesla Delivery Team will reach out to you in the coming months when it’s time to prepare for delivery.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please call or email at650.681.5100 / [email protected].


The Tesla Team

It seems a little premature to ask me to plunk down ~$100,000 (for the model I spec’d out) without even having the opportunity to test-drive this new car, so I [email protected] and asked when a car would be available to test drive in Tesla’s NYC showroom – and got a vague answer (meaning they have no idea). I also want to see what Consumer Reports has to say…


OK, but let’s say I love it and Consumer Reports (and others) give it rave reviews. Should I buy it?


The way I’m feeling right now (in light of the beating my fund is taking in the markets!), I’m not feeling flush enough to drop $100,000 on something I don’t really need, especially when my current Volvo SUV, while a tired old gas-guzzler, is getting the job done just fine and certainly has a few years left in it.


So here’s a totally random idea/Hail Mary pass: let’s get 3-4 folks (NYC based of course) to split the cost of the car and share it. Heck, write it off as stock research! If you’re interested, let me know…


Has Tesla Sunk Itself With the Model X?

It may be fatally fascinating.

It had been a few years since I last visited Tesla Motors, that enormous white sheet cake of a factory down at the muddy bottom end of the San Francisco Bay. The Fremont plant used to spit out half a million vehicles a year when it was a GM-Toyota joint venture, when it was a humming hive of American manufacturing vitality. Then it turned into an empty husk, and then Tesla acquired the deed in 2010 for a relative pittance. When I went to see the first Model S in 2012, there were a couple dozen cars in the employee lot. Tumbleweeds would not have looked out of place. Inside, a few robots practiced their tai chi moves with empty pincers, as there were as yet no panels to shuffle. And if you looked beyond the freshly painted and well-lit assembly area, the view faded off into the shadowy darkness of the plant’s deeper reaches. This past October, I exited Interstate 880 in Fremont for the debut of the new Model X crossover. Now, cars fill all the spaces, line the curbs, and spill into overflow lots. Trucks trundle in with deliveries, and minibuses shuttle people around. This dead factory is alive again.

Full article here


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