First, those that know me know that I am a Tesla FANATIC. My girlfriend once challenged me to not talk about Tesla (motors, energy, something) for a 24 hour period. I dunno if I've ever done that honestly. I'm also an owner (no surprise given my fanaticism, lucky to be able to afford one). And I also own some TSLA.
Elon sent a company-wide email in Q3 to push sales to show profitability. I don't think its a fluke but they did something they never really do to help reach this number: they offered significant discounts on vehicles (new, pre-owned, showroom). Like, really big discounts (relative to the price of the car).
That certainly helped. Elon also sent an email at the start of Q4 that NO MORE DISCOUNTS are allowed. So I'm really very interested to compare Q3 to Q4 when that comes.
I also happen to know a lot of the people who bought a heavily discounted Tesla in Q3 feel kind of burned that right at the beginning of Q4 Tesla announced the new Autopilot hardware (that isn't retrotfitable on old vehicles). If you did your homework on Tesla though, this wasn't a surprise. It was expected that Tesla would make some big announcement to spur Q4 sales especially after Elon said there wouldn't be any capital raises in Q4 while he expected to hit Q4 numbers. You generally can't do that without some big news.
Just wanted to color this news with that. I'm still very excited!
Wow I guess this is the best proof of how Tesla is really changing the way auto owners think, this is something that wasn't unthinkable before Tesla and their over the air updates. Can you imagine a BMW owner complaining that his 2015 model does not have stuff that new 2017 models will get??
Tesla has done this for a long while. Newer larger battery pack options, newer interior and tech package options, and completely new performance and configuration options (insane, dual motor, and autopilot 1.0 all hit at once)
While there wern't announcements ahead of time what was coming, there were often advance notice that there was an announcement coming, and even when there wasn't - there was a big period of quiet from Tesla leading up to it.
For Autopilot 2.0 everyone knew it was coming for at least the Model 3 launch (Elon said as much at the Model 3 announcement), they just brought it forward.
It is really no different to what happens to customers for a bunch of other tech companies. Canon sure doesn't tell anyone when their new models are coming out - you know it'll probably happen at a major trade show, but only if you're someone that follows that kind of thing. The average customer at their camera shop isn't going to have the sales guy say "Hey, wait a week and we'll have the next version available."
Regardless, I think it’s a fair critique: buyer’s remorse is a real thing with Tesla. It’s one thing to buy a $3000 computer from Apple and have it replaced with a much better one the next week, it’s another to buy a $100K car and have a major improvement two weeks later.
Plus people but cars when then want cars, some will always lament they could have waited a bit, but most I expect will be happy to own a Tesla that was (and is) amazing just a few days ago.
If you want change in this regard, it's not going to come from Tesla.
For instance, let's say I pre-ordered a Model 3 now. But I won't get it the first half of 2019. And then a month later, Tesla announces Model 3 with Autopilot 2.5 hardware or whatever, holographic HUD, and so on. And that new car will ship within 2 months. Then I'd feel pretty screwed by Tesla...
In short, the delay between reservation and receiving the car is not an issue.
Big difference between buying a camera and buying a car.
For a young professional, buying a $35k car is probably just as eventful and significant to their savings/expenditure.
vs. "Hey, we have this great sale going on. What, new model? Naww, we are just having a sale!!"
The incumbent MFG's literally have "new inventory" sales on their last-years model to clear out inventory. They let you know well in advance that a new car is coming with new features so you can make an informed decision.
Is this not what "hey this 1-2 year old model is on super duper sale right now, it's really cheap, you should buy it!" means? Is a steep discount on older stock not always code for "better shift these before new model comes out"?
You see Apple fanboys fall for this one every time, too. "Yay I got a new iPhone 5 last week and it was SO CHEAP, I'm a genius... wait wtf they just announced the iPhone 6."
The upstart, by virtue of simply not yet having that many potential repeat customers around, is targeting first time buyers. The goodwill created by having as little obsolescence as possible far outweighs the extra sales they might get through it. This tradeoff changes significantly once a company is established and the number of potential repeat customers is high. Now it's always a balance between repeat sale likelihood and repeat sale cycle duration.
Different forms of obsolescence have different effects in different markets. E.g. unlike smartphone makers, car manufacturers tread very carefully when it comes to longevity. Red book value and all that. So what do they do? They have perfected the generational model update cycle. New generation cars are literally designed to make the predecessor look old, because that is the most acceptable repeat sale driver. Tesla just isn't there yet.
edit: I'm absolutely positive I'm missing the joke here
It's tough because if you are custom ordering a car mid-year there's a question as to whether to wait for a production allocation in the new model year or not.
I am complaining, at least inwardly :-)
Elon stressed in the call that they did not give significant discounts, and the few that did happen were not to be repeated.
"Our vehicle gross margin increased Q2 to Q3. One of the other things I've seen out there is that somehow we achieved these numbers as a result of widespread discounting. That is absolutely false. There were a few discounts but they were few and far between and that has been absolutely shut down to zero. You can see that in the fact that the vehicle profitability increased, even excluding ZEV credits, Q2 to Q3."
I think it's fair to assume that they discounted the price because they were close to announce an "hardware" update.
That doesn't make your latter point wrong though, that was probably true too!
Tesla likely reasoned that they would have a huge up in Q4 and instead of having one quarter with profitability (Q4) they could spread it out and show two consecutive profitable quarters with even higher profits in Q4.
This may indicate they will be attempting to raise more money early next year, it's the kind of 'good news' that investors like to see.
Tesla's main costs aren't the cost per unit but the engineer/software costs iirc.
This has actually been Tesla's business plan all along: start with a low volume, high-priced product (the Roadster) and gradually move towards successively higher volume, lower cost models.
Tesla is constantly behind on producing cars for its customers. They just wanted to generate money now rather than later.
I talk about Tesla a ton as well. My GF is similar, but with dogs. We made an agreement that whenever I talk about Tesla I have to replace 'Tesla' with 'dog'. She does the reverse.
Let me tell you, there is this new dog, it is so fast. And this dog has a low center of gravity which is great for handling. The craziest thing is that this dog can go from 0-60mph in just 2.8 seconds, it is ludicrous!
There were also some stories of people getting bigger discounts, like getting the 60kWh to 75kWh battery upgrade at no additional charge. Those were supposedly rare and were not supposed to happen, though.
By the way, huge fan of HashiCorp Mitchell. ;-)
Now I need to track down Elon Musk to discuss Consul.
Totally agree with you on this, long elon musk is always the play.
Presumably that is also why Elon doesn't want SpaceX to go public. That kind of push could easily end in a giant fireball there.
It's unfortunate there's a bit of a reality distortion field around discussion Elon Musk's companies sometimes. Maybe because everyone wants his companies to succeed...
Surely the only ones who don't want dramatically cheaper space launches, cheaper, widely available solar PV installations and attractive, affordable electric vehicles are deeply entrenched incumbents whose continued profitability involves polluting the planet, or those who really hate the environment for whatever reason.
There are valid criticisms you can level at Musk (I wouldn't like to be a direct employee), but taking on the Wall Street quarter to quarter thinking with enormous, risky endeavours that have the potential to completely revolutionise some of the biggest industries out there (energy and transport) takes an extreme type of individual to succeed.
Though I think it's proof the system works! Offer tax incentives for electric cars, get electric cars. Though it seems like Musk isn't making a super sustainable business just yet....
Solar City is arguably "good solar", but that company hasn't done well enough to hold up on its own, getting the Tesla bailout.
Tesla's made the great push for electrics, and that's awesome.
Also, I imagine there are many people who do _not_ want SpaceX to waste its time sending stuff to Mars, but want it to be a successful sattelite launching company. Meanwhile they're a sattelite launching company that blows stuff up more than average
Bith sides are full of shit.
What do you mean? It's not like the oil/petrol car/traditional space launch industries exist without government subsidies... This is basically just levelling the playing field (and ensuring a better future)!
Just that some people out there innovate without taking subsidies, and some people would find that to be a "purer" form of success.
Many of his Detroit competitors wouldn't exist/would be a shadow of their current selves if it wasn't for a massive bailout in 2008. Why is this never mentioned? If this is how low the bar is set (bailing out large, badly-managed companies) then why shouldn't the government provide incentives for exciting new industries that promise to provide huge wealth and employment in the future?
Furthermore, many of Tesla's non-US competitors are given generous subsidies, e.g. German car makers
> Offer tax incentives for electric cars, get electric cars.
Everyone always mentions this also, what about fossil fuel subsidies (a gigantic, highly-profitable, self sustainable industry)? To tune of $5.3 trillion per year globally You could argue that the loan provided to Tesla (now paid off in full, with interest, ahead of schedule) was just leveling the playing field.
What about the devastating human rights impact of backroom dealings with the likes of Saudi Arabia? What is a few hundred million in subsidies compared to cloak and dagger political dealings with with one of the most repressive, backwards regimes on the planet, simply because they are the main oil producer?  The funders/supports of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, provider of most of the 9/11 hijackers, not to mention the same people who spread their twisted branch of Islam in European countries, by refusing to take Syrian refugees from the conflict they fund, instead funding extremism in Europe through Wahhabist mosques  . When the solar PV industry and the EV industry become mainstream and cost competitive with fossil fuels (a process well underway ), this backwards regime will collapse in on itself through the lack of funding, and will totally cease to matter strategically. So we get a cleaner environment, and less human rights abuses in the world.
> Though it seems like Musk isn't making a super sustainable business just yet....
Using profit as the only measure of a sustainable business is another classic example of Wall Street short term bullshit. Amazon ploughs most/all of it's revenue into expanding it's operations, withholding profit, and they are currently valued at $390bn Granted, it's still possible that Tesla will fail, but even if it does, Tesla will go down in the history books as the company who finally made the car industry get off it's ass and actually take advantage of lithium ion batteries to mass produce attractive electric cars, getting the world off the oil addiction in the process.
> Also, I imagine there are many people who do _not_ want SpaceX to waste its time sending stuff to Mars, but want it to be a successful sattelite launching company. Meanwhile they're a sattelite launching company that blows stuff up more than average
I suppose the solution is to continue to go with the existing, bloated players, with their fat cost-plus contracts, won by ripping off the government with the help of regulatory capture? 
In summary, Musk is attempting to disrupt energy, transport and space launch industries, often against competitors who are heavily subsidised and often have government officials in their back pockets, further tilting that playing field. He's trying to fundamentally disrupt these huge, sometimes corrupt industries, and yet people still shit on him for trying. I really, really don't get this attitude. Even if all his companies fail, he forced the competitors to up their game, so in fact he will have succeeded at most of his goals (perhaps not the multi-planetary goal for mankind if SpaceX fails).
"Coffman’s congressional district includes United Launch Alliance’s headquarters. Many of the congressmen represent states where ULA has operations."
You realize that the US is a net oil exporter now, right? The SA regime will collapse because of many factors.
Your comments read like you believe everyone in the world is corrupt except Elon Musk.
I am sure there are few exceptions out there, but as described - few, and exceptions.
Still, for Syria, they are not the sole guilty party.
Electric cars are not something I'm interested in owning at the price Tesla is asking. Or even half what Tesla is asking.
Utility electricity works fine for me, is a small fraction of my monthly budget, and is reliable. I.e. something I never really worry about. Payments for and maintenance of a personal PV system do not interest me.
Space travel? Again if he wants to spend his money there, fine. But I don't see it changing my life.
I am not an entrenched encumbent either. I just drive cheap, old cars and have no interest in visiting Mars. I don't even care for conventional air travel.
However, if everyone was a perfect nihilist, you wouldn't have cheap old cars to drive because nobody would have made cars. You wouldn't have a cell phone, and especially a data connection, if not for the space program. And so on.
So while I don't think it's a problem if some people take your viewpoint, I think it's a problem when everyone does. Somebody has to care enough about the environment to stop rampant capitalism from destroying it so that we have a planet to live on 50 years from now (electric cars, improved public transit.) Someone has to care enough to get humans off the planet so that when it is inevitably destroyed (asteroid, nuclear war, virus, overpopulation) the human race can continue elsewhere.
Nonsense. It is a perfectly reasonable perspective for someone who isn't terribly interested in technological development and wants to live practically with what exists today. There's a place for dreaming about Mars, but most people don't. That's fine, and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with cynicism or nihilism.
space - indirect windfall of discoveries and improvements made in materials, manufacturing processes etc - it happened in the past with Nasa, it happens/will happen with them and others.
I drive 13 year old diesel bmw that costed 25% of a new one and probably will never buy a new car, so what? Mankind needs people like him, now more than ever.
It's not perfectly reasonable perspective. It's a perspective of an old, grumpy person who only cares about himself, and the world he lives in. Sure, we have plenty of those, but it ain't the best attitude to say at least.
You seem to be throwing these around as pejoratives, but neither of these terms has anything to do with this topic.
> doesn't care about state of the environment
Nobody but you said anything about not caring about the state of the environment.
> an old, grumpy person
You have no basis to make such remarks. Plenty of people care about the people around them, their immediate environment, and the circumstances they can personally and directly affect without getting caught up in fantasies about the future.
Wanting to send people to Mars for the good of the species is a fine idea, but your enthusiasm about it doesn't make you any more noble than someone who is simply more practically minded or not as optimistic as you are.
This kind of disrespect for the perspectives of others makes it that much more difficult to achieve the political compromises necessary to make any of these dreams a reality.
Given enough time, it would've been invented regardless. You are right that we probably would be further behind technologically if it wasn't for the space race though.
Is that so? Can you give me a source?
You can credit a lot of stuff to the space program if you want, since all tech is built on other tech, and NASA was a big source of R&D in the 1950s onward.
The foundations of the web were laid down by Tim Berners-Lee while working at CERN, a huge, expensive physics research organisation funded by European governments: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CERN#Computer_science
Government is usually always involved in nearly everything, because they are spending almost 50% of the GDP, and even 100 years ago they spent 20% or so. Other countries its sometimes as high as 70%.
Saying that computers, the web, satellites would not exist without government is a pretty absurd claim. The idea of satellites, networks and all this stuff was around and would have happened. The US was commercially successful, actually uniquely successful in almost all of world history, during a period when federal government spent only about 2% of GDP. During this time tons of innovation, the most in the world, came out of the US.
Tesla is successful not because of government handouts anymore then many other large companies. It of course helps them, just like with any other large company. Elon would be a idiot if he didn't advocate for tax breaks, you have to play the politics game.
When a government absorbs risks by spending on research it can have businesses do the work on the promise the benefit is shared. Christopher Columbus finding America and the companies that launched Apollo both worked this way. It seems to work well in practice.
It is hard to say that we would definitely be this far without Government spending. It is reasonable to make a case we could never leave the planet without an Apollo like initiative. How would the space industry would have gotten started purely in the private sector? Its not like they could have contracted the launches out, there were no launch companies. I don't hold this extreme view but I can see how it could be held.
To go to the most extreme view I can see possible: It is entirely possible that without that spending humanity wouldn't have GPS. It is also possible a foreign power that was hostile could have GPS and use it in war against us. With a few tech changes like that in the worst of these scenarios there could be enough tech lopsided-ness that MAD never worked and one side could have ruined the planet with nukes during the cold war.
I'm not talking about GPS, which isn't an essential feature of cell phones.
Only a self centered ignoramus thinks reducing need for oil doesn't help them.
The West? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the people in the Middle East (you know, where the bombs are actually being dropped*) are "certainly" affected.
Are you sure you aren't interested at this price?
The Model S/X are considered some of the safest vehicles on the planet, even breaking testing equipment, while I'm not convinced you'd do as well in that 20 year old del a Sol (or any older vehicle for that matter).
And once you start dealing with kids and safety, it becomes even more important.
[ADDED: The mass-market Tesla is going to still be a premium vehicle relative to other options. There's nothing wrong with that. But it's unrealistic to expect that crunching the numbers the right way will make Tesla the optimal financial decision for everyone.]
Edit: Still a (relative) good deal though, depending on what car you'd otherwise have bought.
One that helps you avoid pollution but doesn't make you look like Bane from the Dark Knight Rises?
Please send me a link, thanks.
This was written 10 years ago:
In summary the idea was to start with expensive electric cars (roadster, model S, model X which was initially not planned) to fund research on affordable electric cars (model 3 supposed to be first of them). As electric cars are becoming more popular and there are technological advances, we'll get them cheaper and cheaper.
Perhaps not in next 5 years, but what about 20 years? Do you expect that electric cars will never be cheaper than petrol cars? Do you expect to never ride in an autonomous vehicle?
It's delusional to think that Tesla isn't in bed with the big banks and playing all the Wall Street games. In fact, I think they do it more than any prominent company out there.
If they don't play "quarter to quarter" games, what was the big rush to sell all the ZEV credits this quarter to get profitable? Why not just carry on as they were? My bet: there's another capital raise coming, and the argument will be, "See? We can be profitable whenever we want."
But I'm more concerned with TSLA the stock, not the company.
Does it? It makes for a good narrative, but are the burnout-inducing hours and unusall funding sources actually making them more likely to succeed than a company taking a more conventional approach would be, or less?
I also wanted to exploit the solar power that is available in moderate climates like the Bay Area. I did that by "over paying" for my solar install in 2003 but at the same time the creative financing that Solar City brought to the market enabled tremendous volumes (and a price war from the Chinese government helped of course but that is a different story).
I also want to go to space for less than $20M on a 1960's tech space ship to a kludged together of modules. Back when Regan's Star Wars vision was creating capital availability for companies like Rotary Rocket and DC-X I was hoping that would finally be the point where regular commercial access to space was made possible. It died and I spend a couple of decades wondering if we'd die as a species on this planet. Now Bezos and Musk are racing to create a capability that promises to take me to orbit for significantly less cash, I'm all for the product and so I want the companies working on that product to succeed.
It wasn't until the decade of the idle billionaire that this even became possible.
It was on the hn front page for at least 24 hours
> I thought it was important to write you a note directly to let you know how critical this quarter is, The third quarter will be our last chance to show investors that Tesla can be at least slightly positive cash flow and profitable before the Model 3 reaches full production.
> Total Q3 GAAP revenue was $2.30 billion, up 145% from Q3 2015, while total Q3 gross margin was 27.7%, compared to 21.6% in Q2. Total automotive revenue was $2.15 billion on a GAAP basis, up 152% from Q3 2015. Our final Q3 delivery count was 24,821,over 300 more than the estimated delivery count we shared on October 2nd. Deliveries increased 114% from the third quarter of 2015, and was comprised of 16,047 Model S and 8,774 Model X vehicles. In addition, 5,065 vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter. These vehicles will be delivered in Q4.
An almost 100% production increase Year over Year, they said it couldn't be done and yet here we are.
That's exactly why it keeps coming up. It's easy to grow 50% when you're making a relatively small number of items, it's another thing entirely when you're much larger. So for Tesla to post these growth figures is meaningless without taking the actual numbers of cars shipped into account.
I don't think the apples to oranges comparison helps make the point anyway. It's just a throw-away. If someone writes "Toyota makes 9MM cars", I discard as "wrong thread". Even if the difficulty curve changes shape against Tesla starting right now, Toyota's production capacity remains pretty irrelevant.
Given the new sensors, they need to update the loaner fleet.
"Expenses", in this sense is not "cash out". When you buy a building, you're just moving value from one store to another (cash -> assets). Only the deprecation (something like 5% p.a. for a building) has an impact on profits.
(although, for technology companies, investments often hurt profits more than for more traditional companies, mainly b/c typical tech investments are hard to value accurately and therefore deprecate immediately or faster – self-created IP as one example)
As long as Musk decides to roll all revenues back into operations, investors get nothing. Musk has a reputation as someone who doesn't really care all that much about his investors, this is a move carefully designed to massage that image. Musk still doesn't care about his investors, but throwing a little cash their way keeps their voices from building to a crescendo.
As for what humanity is getting out of the deal, they already got the Model S and X, it's soon going to get the 3.
Let's not be too breathless when we describe the cars that a few hundred thousand of the wealthiest people on the planet have purchased.
Well, you know, I wasn't. The opposite actually.
It might be worth it in the end, but call a spade a spade.
Ultimately, it comes out of the profits of whichever automakers aren't producing enough low-emission cars.
However oil & gas production receives significant subsidies in many (most?) countries around the world, including the US.
In addition, oil used for things like aviation fuel, heating, power generation, and maritime fuels used for shipping, are typically completely tax-free.
Don't investors get a higher-valued company (and thus higher share price)? At the end of the day, capital gains is capital gains, whether it's realized via dividends or share buybacks or not.
EDIT: Elon just said on the investor call "Our current plan requires no capital raise whatsoever for the Model 3 production. Solar City will be neutral to cash contributor in Q4.
TSLA owning SCTY makes about as much sense as Toyota buying Exxon-Mobil, with a small helping of 'enormous conflict of interest.'
We don't generally have that problem in the US thought, and places where that might be useful are dwarfed by the markets it's not at that point, so it doesn't make sense. Otherwise, yes, that would be a big missed market opportunity for car companies. A chance to sell more stuff, and put it all under the same financing.
That is, the difference between Tesla and the ICE automakers is that one of them has a resource (fuel) distribution problem that was already solved a long time ago, and one doesn't. That necessitates different strategies.
Note that this occurred while Model 3 production is still starting.
Gross Margin Jumped from 26.7% in Q2 to 33.2% in Q3.
For reference, MRQ,
GM gross margin: 13.9%
Granted, those are not luxury auto makers, but Tesla is more profitable on a gross margin basis. That margin fuels everything from cash flow to R&D spending. 33% for an automaker is huge.
GM doesn't have the superchargers, but they can afford to price these cars with zero profit for a while, if they want to undercut Tesla.
Any idea why they have to list automotive leasing as a separate line item on their report? If they are selling it to a bank who is then responsible for the lease, why list it separately?
If I understand it correctly (probability: moderate?) then it's basically an accounting artifact. The fact that Tesla arranges the lease means they have to book the revenue differently. Somehow....
GAAP strikes me as a set of things that, alone, are good intentions but combined are more confusing than they need to be.
That's probably reasonably accurate. GAAP is intended to prevent various accounting reporting practices that, historically, were sometimes used to obscure material aspects of a company's financial position. However, GAAP numbers may also present a company's numbers in ways that aren't the most meaningful or "fair"--at least in the eyes of the company. That's one reason that companies often present both GAAP and non-GAAP results.
I believe I have read elsewhere that although GM will sell the Bolt in all 50 states, early inventory will be going to states with ZEV mandates.
With all that, I could see a future in which those ZEV credits aren't nearly so valuable.
Tesla provides 80+% of the ZEV credits transferred, and the 2 biggest buyers are Fiat and Ford. It could be that this quarter's transfers aren't in this table.
> The Tesla third quarter results reflect strong company-wide execution in many areas. Furthermore, we expect this to continue into Q4 and project positive GAAP net income (excluding non-cash stock-based compensation) despite ZEV credit sales in Q4 likely being
I don't know how many potential buyers were waiting, but I was expecting a bump in sensors and compute power sooner than later.
This clause is more like Microsoft saying you can't use Windows to write software for Apple computers.
You own the car and the computer but you don't own the autopilot software or windows that runs on the hardware.
This is sharecropping, and is extremely anti-consumer.