Could Tesla hit $1trn?On January 6 Morgan Stanley auto guru Adam Jonas not only rates Tesla a buy, he increases his price target to $810, the highest on Wall Street. The news bumps the stock up to a high of $801 on January 7 .
If Tesla hit the $810 mark it could see a valuation upwards of $1trn, joining the elite handful of $1trn+ companies that includes Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Alphabet (GOOGL).
Sounds ambitious – even Apple only hit the $1trn mark back in 2018, the first company ever to do so. But the figures look promising. Tesla has aggressively invested in production capacity, which now sits at 840,000 cars per year, and Musk suggested in the firm’s Q3 2020 earnings call that they could hit a million by the end of 2021. The Shanghai gigafactory started producing the Model Y from December 31, with the price discounted by a whopping 30%. New vehicle assembly plants in Germany and Texas, expected to complete this year, will also ramp up capacity.
There are threats, of course – other auto giants are crowding into the race. General Motors CEO Mary Barra came out fighting on January 5, with plans to hit $1bn in EV sales for 2021. “We are committed to fighting for EV market share until we are number one in North America,” she said.
But will it dampen Tesla’s current bull run? It would be a brave trader to bet against Musk right now – in 2020, shortsellers lost $40.1bn against the firm. Can 2021 bring more of the same? It's looking good for Musk, anyway. He added about $165bn onto his personal fortune in 2020 and in January it finally happened – he surged past Amazon's Bezos with a net worth of $194.8bn to become the world's richest man. Hey, we called it.
So close - Tesla squeaks to 500k targetTesla promised to hit 500k customer deliveries in 2020, and they’ve only gone and damn well done it.
Well – as good as. On January 2 the firm released its production figures for the previous year and despite a couple of minor bumps in the road (you know, just a massive global pandemic, factory closures, a stock market crash, California on fire…) it managed to deliver a whopping 499,500 cars, just 450 short of the half a million target, and a 36% jump on 2019.
In fact, Tesla actually produced a total of 509,737 cars over the period, so let’s not split hairs here – they pretty much made it. We call that an awesome achievement, especially in such a crazy year. The news sent the stock soaring above $700, making a lot of investors very happy. By January 6, shares were at a high of $774, bringing Tesla’s market cap to well over $700bn – within spitting distance of Facebook.
A wild ride into the indexTesla joins the S&P500 as its sixth-biggest member on Monday December 21, kicking out Apartment Investment and Management (AIV) to make space... and it's a major deal. Trading goes crazy in the final hours of Friday, with shares going on a rollercoaster ride before closing at a record-breaking $695 as investors scramble to get ahead of the game.
The stock fell by over 4% during Friday before jumping back up by over 6% to end the day at its highest ever closing price, giving the firm a market cap of well over $650bn. The share price was already up by around 70% since the S&P 500 announcement back in mid-November, and by over 700% since the start of the year. The company will account for 1.69% of the S&P500, and its inclusion has forced index funds to buy upwards of $85bn of Tesla stock in order to balance their holdings. Going forward, every time Tesla moves by $11.11, the S&P 500 will move by a point – which judging by past performance, could mean good news for S&P 500 investors.
But can the bull live up to the hype? Its price fell by around 3% in after hours trading, and opened on December 21 at $666.24, falling a further couple of percentage points during the day to end -6.49% lower at $649.86, as investors who bought ahead of entry cashed in their holdings.
Some market commentators have warned that S&P500 inclusion could cast a damper on its seemingly unstoppable rise, with history suggesting that many blue chip stocks tend to underperform the index in their first year after inclusion. By comparison, Apartment Investment and Management is expected to outperform by up to 20%.
Rob Arnott, founder of Research Associates, thinks that that Tesla's inclusion could be a bubble rather than a buy signal. "Tesla is entering the S&P500 with a stupendously high valuation. Traditional cap-weighted indices, such as the S&P500, are structured to buy high and sell low – and Tesla is a prime example of this maxim," he said in a December 17 paper. "The odds are against its remaining a top-dog stock."
Will we see a reversal in 2021? It's bulls against bears...and the fight is on.
Capital raising catapults Tesla into top tier Tesla tempts investors with a new share sale, its first since May 2019 and its biggest in the past decade. In a December 8 filing to the SEC, it confirms plans to sell up to $5bn shares of common stock in the open market “from time to time” – a move likely to give the firm more control over the share price than if it went all out with a formal secondary offering. The share price dips slightly on the news, falling by about -1.33% in early trading.
The sale follows the firm’s 5-for-1 stock split in August, and comes just a few weeks before its official inclusion in the S&P500 on December 21, giving it a whopping war chest of cash to match its massive share price rise over the past year. The money might come in handy, given that Tesla promised to boost its production levels to above 500,00 units in 2020, and Musk is sticking to that goal despite Covid chaos. And he might actually manage it – Tesla delivered 139,300 vehicles in Q3, an all-time record.
In other news, sales in China soared to record highs in November, with 21,604 Model 3s sold (according to data from the China Passenger Car Association), a massive 78% year-on-year increase that should go some way towards reassuring investors that jumped late onto the Tesla bandwagon this year as its stock shot up on the promise of Chinese success.
Oh yeah, and Elon Musk has moved to Texas, and he’s taking Tesla with him. Apparently, California is “too complacent” and wasn’t a “great use” of his time. A lot of it is probably to do with how mad he was about California’s treatment of tech firms during the pandemic. He threatened to move the Tesla HQ to Texas or Nevada back in May, and the firm is already building a factory in Austin to produce its futuristic new cybertrucks.
You snooze, you lose, Cali.
Market cap crosses $500bnTesla is now worth HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS. That’s right – on November 24 the share price crosses $555, up a whopping third since the S&P500 announcement the previous week.
As institutions and investment managers scramble to swallow up Tesla stock, seems like no one’s got a bad word to say about it. Wedbush Securities is one of the most bullish – issuing a strong buy recommendation and predicting a possible 104% upside potential in a bull-case scenario, due to Tesla’s "sustained path to profitability.” Basically, the growing global demand for electric vehicles could push the stock up to $1,000. "New designs around Cybertruck and Model Y will further aid growth globally and thus enable Tesla to achieve its million delivery units likely by 2023," said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives. He also highlighted the “Teflon-like demand” for the Model 3 in Europe and China, despite the Covid-19 pandemic
Oh yeah and by the way, you know how Elon Musk is super rich? Well he just got super richer. According to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, as of November 24 he’s sitting on a sweet $140bn. That means he’s got more wealth than Bill Gates. Musk is now the second-richest person in the world after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (listed at $187bn as of November 24), and he’s got less than $50bn to go. Anyone want to place a bet on Elon Musk securing the top spot by Christmas?
S&P500 inclusion sends Tesla through the roofIt’s finally happened: after five consecutive quarters of profit (and a stinging snub back on September 8 that sent stock tumbling over 21% in a single day) the S&P500 has finally accepted Tesla for inclusion. Crack open the champagne and get your big boy pants on, ‘cos Tesla has finally made it – now we’re playing in the major leagues.
The carmaker was already more valuable than 90% of the existing companies in the index – and its debut on December 21 is expected to be the biggest on record. No prizes for guessing that the stock went soaring into outer space as a result. The share price, which closed at $408.09 on November 16, jumped more than 14% in after hours trading to open at $460.17 the next day. And although the following week saw some volatility, it just kept on climbing – a week later on November 23 it topped a high of $526 and was up more than six-fold on the year. It’s not all to do with Tesla though - global equities overall rallied this week (with the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 30,000 for the first time ever) on the back of optimism around coronavirus vaccines, and the market’s relief that Trump conceded the Presidential election to Joe Biden (for now).
This is nothing but good news for Mr Musk, whose personal wealth jumped by about $15bn the day after the news broke. So far this year, he’s made a cool $90bn on the back of the booming share price. Drinks are on Elon for, well, ever.
In other news, anyone need a ride? On November 9, Tesla hit the mean streets of New York with the city’s first ever electric yellow taxi, and plans to roll out hundreds more. It’s the first step towards the golden dream of a totally automated taxi fleet.
Photo: Tesla / Twitter
Teslaquilla, it makes me happyElon has always been keen on the idea of Tesla tequila, ever since 2018 when he joked about passing out on ‘Teslaquilla’ as part of an April Fool’s prank about Tesla going bankrupt. That one might have backfired (the stock lost 8% in a single day as people panicked that he was serious) but the booze idea stuck around – and in November 2020 he finally gets his wish, with the official launch of the $250 Teslaquilla. It’s in the shape of a lightning bolt. It’s 40% proof. And you can only buy two bottles per person.
Unsurprisingly, people went nuts. Within a couple of hours of launch the website had sold out and bottles were being resold online for as much as $899 for – get this – the empty bottle! Yes, that’s right, almost a thousand bucks and you don’t even get any tequila. That’s gonna make it harder to drink away the pain.
Teslaquila / Tesla
Full Self Drive: promises, promises?
Tesla has been promising a properly self-driving, fully automated car for years and years. It hasn’t succeeded yet, despite repeatedly raising the price of its ‘full self drive’ (FSD) package – but it looks like it’s finally getting closer. In 2019 Musk promised that FSD would be “feature-complete” by 2020 and that by 2021 drivers would be able to fall asleep and wake up at their destinations without any human intervention. Sounds terrifying, but the latest FSD software upgrade has actually gone down pretty well with drivers. Not with investors though – the stock dropped over 2% the day of launch.
Released in October 2020 to a select group of Tesla customers, Musk warned that rollout needed to be “extremely slow and cautious.” People seem to like it though, with users tweeting a ton of videos showing how much the upgrade has improved autopilot performance.
Still not a good idea to close your eyes at the wheel though. We recommend staying awake for now.
Tesla Autopilot / Tesla
Raising the roofThe roof of a Model Y flies off randomly while owner Nathaniel Galicia Chien is driving down Interstate 280 with his parents just hours after buying the car. It’s the latest in a long line of complaints about the new model, and people ain’t impressed.
The power of a new productRumors start to circulate amongst hatchback aficionados that Tesla could be looking at a European city friendly hatchback, sending prices up almost 11%.
A random Tweet claimed that Tesla cars were too big for European cities, and asked Musk if he’d consider making a small hatchback. Whether he was bored and having a bit of Twitter fun or not, Musk hinted that there could be plans for something along those lines in Germany. Ooh, exciting.
S&P 500 snubTesla dreams about it, when it can’t sleep it screams about it, but finally its ambition of making S&P 500 Index is about to become reality. Unfortunately, at the very last the firm is passed over for entry, and a lot of people are very, very disappointed. When news lands that it wouldn’t be included, the share price plummets 21.06% in the worst single day loss in the company’s history.
But it’s always darkest before the dawn. The next day proved much more promising, perhaps as investors began to suspect shares had been oversold. Prices steadily rose, jumping around 11% on September 9. Even so, after its ground-breaking August, prices dropped from $2,510.70 on September 1 to $1,651.05 at closing on September 8.
Stock split resets priceShares jump as Tesla announces its first ever stock split, designed as a nice little thank you package for retail investors by making shares cheaper and more easily accessible for the everyday folk to get involved with.
In a 5-for-1 split on August 28, the share price reset from $2,230 to a far more accessible $446. Prices surged by 13% the same day, making August a record-breaking month for Tesla.
Musk blings the big bucksIt’s official: Elon Musk is now the fourth-richest person in the world after an 11.2% stock surge on August 17. No particular market-moving news here, but Musk’s net worth grew by over 57% in 2020 alone, and with just $15bn to go he could soon take over Zuckerberg’s No.3 title.
Shorting the shorters with short shortsTesla launches a snazzy new range of red satin short shorts to poke fun at short-sellers after it becomes the most valuable car-maker in the world, and people want them so bad it basically breaks the internet.
"Celebrate summer with Tesla Short Shorts. Run like the wind or entertain like Liberace with our red satin and gold trim design. Relax poolside or lounge indoors year-round with our limited-edition Tesla Short Shorts, featuring our signature Tesla logo in front with "S3XY" across the back. Enjoy exceptional comfort from the closing bell."
Elon Musk famously hates Tesla short-sellers, whom he’s frequently accused of hurting the company in order to manipulate the stock. “They're jerks who want us to die," he told Rolling Stone in 2017. "They're constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors. It's a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It's really awful." In 2018 he tweeted that they “should be illegal,” and in August 2018 he sent billionaire short-seller David Einhorn a box of short shorts to console him after he blamed Tesla’s price increase for his fund’s crappy performance in the first half of the year.
Tesla Shorts / Tesla
A good day for tech stocksInvestors are happy on June 30 after a lot of high-profile tech stocks make a recovery from a slump, and by the end of the day the market as a whole is up by between 1-2%. Tesla stands out from the crowd with an end-of-quarter push towards profitability, ending the day at $1,079.81, up by almost 7%.
Tesla had its sights on a spot on the S&P500 index for a while, and its profitability put the goal even closer within reach. To qualify, it needed to complete four consecutive quarters of making money, and by June 2020 it was three quarters (geddit?) of the way there. Even though profit during the pandemic wasn’t expected, Elon Musk sent an email on June 30 telling employees to work hard for the goal.
Unfortunately, on September 8, the firm was passed over for entry at the last minute, and a lot of people were very, very disappointed. When the news landed that it wouldn’t be included, the share price plummeted 21.06% in the worst single day loss in the company’s history.
One small step for MuskOver the weekend another Musk company, SpaceX, sends two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time. Hard not to be impressed, and the markets feel the same way – Tesla stock jumps almost 8%.
Getting back to workTesla really, really wants to get back to work. The last major car manufacturer left in California, Covid-19 hit the firm (and its employees) pretty hard so on May 9, it launches its ‘Getting Back to Work’ restart plan, aimed at getting its factories going again. Unfortunately, not everyone is on the same page.
Alameda County, the location of Tesla’s California factory, refused to allow Tesla to restart, because it decided to independently extend its own county-wide ‘shelter at home’ order, despite the State of California giving overall permission for manufacturing to resume.
“Alameda County is insisting we should not resume operations. This is not for lack of trying or transparency since we have met with and collaborated on our restart plans with the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. Unfortunately, the County Public Health Officer who is making these decisions has not returned our calls or emails,” Tesla complained in a May 9 press release. “The County’s position left us no choice but to take legal action."
Tesla filed a lawsuit against the County on May 9 to force it to allow the Fremont factory to reopen. Two days after filing the lawsuit, Elon Musk reopened the factory in defiance of county orders, and on May 20 Tesla dropped the lawsuit.
Surprise price surgeOn April 13, whilst the broader market pulled back amid the developing Coronavirus crisis, Tesla stock soars by almost 14% to close the day at $650.95.
There isn’t really any market-moving news, but the combo of some positive analyst targets the previous Friday, plus news on the expansion of Tesla’s Shanghai factory, and a surprise tweet from Musk hinting that the company’s upcoming talk with analysts would be about batteries. Whatever floats your boat.
Things kept getting better the next day, with two analyst upgrades sending prices up 9%. April turned out to be a pretty good month for Tesla overall, and prices increased almost 50% from $504 to $781.88.
Musk makes noise over Covid-19Mr Tesla CEO has had a problematic Twitter journey on the Covid-19 front, starting with a March 6 Tweet claiming that “the coronavirus panic is dumb” which, astonishingly, is the most-liked Tweet on the platform that week. Despite claiming to have actually had treatment for coronavirus, on March 19 he doubles down, dropping a whole bunch of truthbombs that send the Twitterverse crazy.
First he warned that the “danger of panic still far exceeds danger” of coronavirus itself. Then he promised that Tesla would repurpose its factory to make ventilators if there was a shortage – a claim that the Mayor of New York later took him up on. Finally, he predicted that based on current trends, there would likely be no new cases in the US by the end of April. Clearly, it didn’t play out that way (20,517 new daily cases as of April 30, 2020, and 1,936 new daily deaths).
Luckily, the same day Tesla received a bullish review from a Morgan Stanley analyst, who wrote that the sharp share price decline amid Covid gave the stock a great risk-reward profile. Prices jumped up almost 19% on the back of the call.
Coronavirus continuesMarch was a lot. For everyone. And even the best tech in the world couldn’t stop the pandemic from taking a toll on Tesla. Shares of the company fell almost 12% on March 12, mostly because of yet another sell-off in the overall market and a price target downgrade from Morgan Stanley (MS). This was the start of a pretty bad couple of days, and by March 18, prices had dropped to $361.22.
There was turmoil in the overall market after Donald Trump announced his (limited) anti-Covid measures, the details of which weren’t quite rigorous enough to calm investor nerves. CEO Elon doesn’t help with Tweets warning that the market was “a bit high anyway” and “due for a correction”.
Two days later, on March 18, COVID struck again. Tesla was ordered by the California County Sheriff to close its main factory for a three-week lockdown. Shares tumbled a further 16% on the news, taking prices down to $361.22 from $711.26 at the start of March. The factory finally closed its doors, Willy Wonka-style, on March 24.
Even after the slip and price slide journey of the past few weeks though, shares were still up 56% over the past six months.
Saudi slump sees stock slidePlunging oil prices and Coronavirus fears are starting to stress investors out, and on March 9 Tesla’s price dips almost 14%.
The ongoing oil price battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia didn’t help either. Historically, when gas and crude oil prices are low, electric vehicle sales tend to slide, as it becomes cheaper to drive the old-style gas-guzzling world-destroyers. Bummer.
Chinese market cracksTesla stock takes a beating, dipping almost 13% as signs of weak sales in China start to appear, worsening amid a softening economy and the spread of the Coronavirus. Shares fall from $730 on February 27 to end the day at $679.
Sales numbers in China had been decreasing since December, with registrations of new Tesla cars down 46% between December and January. Chinese EV sales dropped a steep 34.6% in the fourth quarter of 2019, investment bank Cowen said in an early February report. Given that Chinese demand was a massive factor in the stock’s stratospheric rise in 2020, the news unsurprisingly spooks investors.
Another day, another billion dollarsTesla stock continues to roar. On February 13 Tesla announces a secondary stock offering with the intent to raise around $2bn at $767 a share, which boosts the share price by 10% over the week to close at $901 on February 21.
This little update came about two weeks after Musk declared that Tesla was done with raising capital for the foreseeable future, which might make him a little bit of a fibber, but a damn rich one – the move boosted his net worth (already 19th in the world) by a sweet $3.1bn to hit $43.3bn.
The offering met the high end of Tesla’s expectations, and Musk himself purchased $10 million worth of shares on Valentine’s Day. The offering, which finally closed on February 19, raised $2.31 billion in net proceeds.
We have lift-off. Oh, waitElon Musk has got a shiny new rocket ship: Tesla stock. In its biggest one-day jump since May 2013, Tesla gains a whopping 19.89% on February 3, after Argus Research raises its price target.
This was just the beginning of a pretty volatile period for Tesla though, with prices shooting up by up to 50% over the next few days, though it settled down to end the week around 15% up. February 4 saw an especially wild ride, with prices hitting a high of $968.99, a low of $833.88, and closing the day up by almost 14%. The gains were helped along by long-time Tesla bull Ron Baron, who suggested that this was, as he'd predicted, just the beginning for the firm’s potential price growth.
Fast forward about 24 hours though, and prices actually sank more than 17% on February 5, in part impacted by the spreading Coronavirus in China, which was already beginning to severely impact delivery schedules and production. The week closed at decent enough $748.07.
Stock starts to soar in Tesla’s biggest ever bull runHere begins the stratospheric rise of Tesla’s stock, mainly down to optimistic expectations of Chinese demand, with the new Shanghai Gigafactory and the start of Model Y production supporting a strong trading outlook.
In April 2020, Elon said the Shanghai Gigafactory would achieve a production rate of 4,000 per week, or 200,000 units per year, by mid-year, as part of an annual goal to deliver 500,000 vehicles globally. The expansion in capacity supported a strong trading outlook, with shares topping $650 as of January 31, 2020.
Shooting for the starsTesla is nothing if not ambitious. January was its best month since 2013 and on the back of better than expected earnings and revenue, released on January 29, it predicts sales of more than half a million cars this year. Prices are quick to respond, surging almost 7% in after hours trading and closing up more than 10% on January 30.
The company made a profit of $105m in Q4 2019 on revenues of $7.38bn, both better than expected, continuing a remarkable streak for Tesla, whose shares had surged almost 120% since the its third-quarter earnings release in October 2019. The company delivered about 367,500 vehicles in 2019, a 50% rise from 2018, and claimed to feel “comfortable” that it would reach its car-sale goals for 2020. CEO Elon Musk also told investors that the company had no intention of raising capital, maybe ever again (spoiler alert: that promise would last about two weeks).
This was the start of a stratospheric surge in stock price, mainly down to optimistic expectations of Chinese demand, with the new Shanghai Gigafactory and the start of Model Y production supporting a strong trading outlook. In April 2020, Elon said the Shanghai Gigafactory would achieve a production rate of 4,000 per week, or 200,000 units per year, by mid-year, as part of an annual goal to deliver 500,000 vehicles globally. The expansion in capacity supported a strong trading outlook, with shares topping $650 as of January 31.
Tesla gonna talkMusk tweets that “Teslas will soon talk to people if you want. This is real.” Guess it depends what they say. A car that did yo momma jokes would be pretty rad.
Tesla delivers first Chinese-made carsThe first 15 Model 3s made at the firm’s Chinese Gigafactory are delivered to Tesla employees in a fancy ceremony. And it’s a big deal. The Chinese market is the holy grail for electric cars, and Tesla’s foothold is about to send its share price higher than a Falcon 9 rocket.
Great wall of China. Photo: Hanson Lu / Unsplash
Tesla smashes up Cybertruck at launchYeah, you read that right. Tesla launches its long-awaited, supercool, futuristic and supposedly indestructible Cybertruck and, well, turns out it isn’t. Lead designer Franz von Holzhausen smashes two of its armored glass windows onstage with a metal ball to prove their strength and they fracture in dramatic fashion. Not supposed to do that.
Called everything from edgy to wedgy, production of the Cybertruck is due to begin in 2021 with a starting price of $39,900. This love child of the DeLorean and the Halo franchise’s warthog was first unveiled in November 2019 and is Tesla’s attempt to break into the massively profitable pick-up truck market. Pegged as a light commercial utility vehicle, it’ll come in three versions (single motor, dual motor and tri-motor) with an estimated range of 250–500 miles and an estimated 0–60 mph time of 2.9–6.5 seconds. Two more expensive versions, with bigger batteries and better motors, are on course for 2022. Hopefully by this time they’ll have stronger windows.
Oh and don’t worry about the poor smashed-up prototype, because some guy called Dan Milano and his brother built a new version out of potato and posted their journey on Twitter, and it’s awesome. The windows were, of course, mashed.
Cybertruck / Tesla
Coming soon: Giga BerlinTesla makes tracks for Europe with a bold new Berlin Gigafactory, and Musk is ready to party.
The Model Y is expected to be the initial focus for the factory, which is set to open Summer 2021, although it looks like partying will also be a priority – in July 2020 Musk hinted at an “indoor/outdoor rave space” on the roof.
“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, for sure,” he said at the 2018 Golden Steering Wheel Awards in Germany. “That’s part of the reason why we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany. We are also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin, because Berlin has some of the best art in the world.”
Major software update sees big tech tie-upsTesla rolls out its biggest software update ever, linking up with Spotify (SPOT) Premium, Netflix (NFLX), YouTube (GOOG), and Hulu (DIS) – although they only work when the vehicle is parked. Possibly more excitingly, they also introduce “Caraoke” – which “lets you sing your heart out with friends on a road trip — or by yourself.” All together now...
Tesla launches new insurance productTesla looks to capture yet another slice of the auto pie with the launch of its own insurance product offering “competitively priced insurance offering designed to provide Tesla owners with up to 20% lower rates, and in some cases as much as 30%.” There are a few teething problems with the website though, which went down within a few hours of launch.
CTO says bye-byeJuly sees more bad news including weak revenues, larger-than-expected losses and worryingly high costs for the second quarter knocking the stock back below $200.
Chief Technology Officer, co-founder, and allegedly all-round legend J.B. Straubel made things worse by leaving the firm. July 25 saw Tesla’s poorest trading day of 2019, with losses topping 13%. Bad Mr Straubel.
Big year for buying firms2019 is a big year for Tesla in terms of acquisitions. It’s pretty secretive about its activities – the only officially announced deal is its acquisition of Maxwell Technologies on May 16 – but there are a bunch of others on the radar.
The Maxwell deal was a $218m all-stock deal designed to further scale up and improve Tesla’s battery production as the electric vehicle market becomes ever more competitive. Maxwell specializes in ultracapacitors but uses dry electrode technology, supposedly more efficient and cheaper than the more commonly-used wet electrode technology. Tesla hoped this would give it the edge it needed to stay ahead of the pack – and could lead to them producing their own battery cells in-house, rather than outsourcing, in yet another step up the supply chain. That might be a punch in the nose for Panasonic (6752), which currently produces battery cells at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory and sells them onto the firm for inclusion in its battery packs.
But it wasn’t just Maxwell. In a 2019 SEC filing, Tesla confirmed that it had made “various other acquisitions” for the sum of $96 million, specifically in the areas of technology and workforce. These are believed to include Canadian battery manufacturing specialist Hibar Systems, along with Artificial Intelligence start-up DeepScale, which focuses on Deep Neural Network (DNN) technology – perhaps to try and improve its Autopilot system as part of Elon’s long-term vision to develop a fleet of self-driving robotaxis.
Major losses lead to loss of faithEarly 2019 is a terrible time for Tesla. Amazon (AMZN) invests $700m into rival electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, Consumer Reports retracts its recommendation of the Model 3 citing safety concerns, and the firm admits in its 2018 Annual Report that it could “face difficulties meeting sales and delivery goals in both existing markets as well as new markets” over the coming year.
The federal tax credit available to Tesla customers in the US fell to $3,750 from $7,500 in January, effectively increasing the cost of its cars and causing sales to slow. In March, Tesla also stumped up the cash to pay off a $920 million convertible bond obligation in cash, which raised concerns over the health of its balance sheet, exacerbated by a heavy round of layoffs. A surprise announcement (later retracted) that it’d close its retail outlets and move all sales online made the market jittery, while the reveal of its new Model Y crossover SUV failed to get anyone excited. In April, Q1 results showed that delivery targets were still being missed by over 30%, leading to a higher-than-expected $702m loss, while in May the firm announced a radical cost-cutting exercise. Morgan Stanley cut its worst-case scenario valuation from $97 down to just $10. In total, the firm’s market value fell by almost 50% in the first six months of the year. Another ouchie.
On May 1, Tesla’s share price was at its lowest since 2017. An equity and notes sale on May 3 to raise cash was increased to $2.7bn from $2.3bn due to high demand, which saw the share price jump to $255. But the gains didn’t last long.
Amazon invests $700m into rival electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian. Photo: Rivian
Sexy new Model Y unveiledTesla unveils the Model Y SUV, a lower-cost version of the Model X designed for mass-market consumption. The car was expected to be Tesla’s best selling vehicle yet, as it sidestepped into the competitive affordable SUV market. It has a range of 300m, room for seven, and a starting price of just $39,000. Based on the Model 3, it comes in four different powertrains: Standard Range, Long Range, Long Range with Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive, and Performance.
The Long Range and Performance models started production in January 2020, with the first deliveries arriving in March, while the Standard version is expected in 2021, along with an optional third-row seat (with seating for two more people). The car made a big splash – by July 2020 it was the third best-selling electric car on the market (the Model 3 was number one) and the third best-selling electric car in the world, according to EV-Sales.
Model Y / Tesla
Back-to-back profitsIn good news, Tesla posts record revenues for 2018 and is profitable for a second consecutive quarter for the first time ever. Musk calls 2018 “the most pivotal year in Tesla’s history.” But in bad news a whole bunch of senior staff leave including CFO Deepak Ahuja, the firm is fined $29,365 for violating California labor laws, and it announces plans to lay off 7% of its workforce. Swings and roundabouts.
Larry Ellison joins the boardTesla adds tech guru and Oracle (ORCL) founder Larry Ellison to its board of directors, along with former Kellogg's executive Kathleen Wilson-Thompson.
The move was part of Tesla’s settlement with the SEC following its securities fraud investigation against Musk, which required the firm to hire two new independent board members. Ellison already owned around 3m shares and was rumored to be close friends with Musk. Keep your friends close after all.
Photo by Oracle PR / Hartmann Studios / Flickr
Robyn Denholm appointed ChairmanTesla has finally found a new chairman, after the regulator insisted that it replace Musk after his 420 Twitter storm. She’s been a Tesla board member since 2014, and was previously the CFO of Australian telecoms giant Telstra (TLS). The market received the news with wariness, and the stock falls 1.4%.
Is Tesla under investigation by the FBI?The Wall Street Journal reports that FBI agents are investigating Tesla in a criminal probe over allegedly misstated information on production of its Model 3 sedans back in 2017. The share price then jumps over 5% to hit a high of $339.90. Can you explain this one? Because we can’t.
Global finance head steps downTesla isn’t having much luck with staffing, and in September Justin McAnear, VP of worldwide finance and operations, confirms he’ll step down next month.
His departure came just days after the resignation of chief accounting officer Dave Morton, while head of HR Gabrielle Toledano also left the firm the same month.
And then I got high...Hey, you know when your company is in trouble, several key staff members have left, you’ve been banned from tweeting by the SEC, and you’ve had to step down as Chairman? The logical response is obviously to go onto a super famous podcast and smoke weed live live on air whilst drinking whisky and tell people that we all just need to “relax and love each other.” Right? Right.
On September 7, Elon appeared on the massively popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast. During a rambling 2.5hr conversation, he and Rogan not only drank a bunch of whisky but shared a joint live on air. Hey, it was California, so technically legal. Investors were emphatically not keen though, and coming hard on the heels of the 420 twitter storm back in August, it sent Tesla stock tumbling. The share price lost over 6% in a single day, and over 12% on the week, closing on the 7th at $263.24.
At least they had a good time.
Elon smokes weed / The Joe Rogan Experience
Whistleblower pays the priceTesla files a $167m lawsuit against former employee Martin Tripp, claiming that he “unlawfully hacked the company’s confidential and trade secret information and transferred that information to third parties.”
According to Tesla, Tripp placed “hacking software” in the computers of three of its employees to regularly export confidential data. Musk called it “sabotage” and accused Tripp of leaking negative stories to the media. In an email to Tesla employees, he may(?) have gone a bit overboard on the conspiracy theory angle, suggesting that “Wall Street short-sellers,” “oil & gas companies,” or “the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors” could have been behind the plot. “If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?”
But wait, the plot thickens. Later on June 20, the same day Tesla filed the lawsuit, the company received an anonymous call saying that Tripp was planning a mass shooting at its Nevada Gigafactory. When contacted by the police, Tripp reportedly burst into tears and claimed that it wasn’t him, but that Musk might have done it himself in a quest to destroy him.
On Twitter, Musk said that Tripp had admitted to taking bribes from Business Insider journalists in exchange for “valuable Tesla IP.” It seems like the courts agreed with him. In September 2020, Tesla won the lawsuit.
Nikola sues Tesla on truck patentsHydrogen truck start-up Nikola Motor Company (NKLA) files a $2bn lawsuit against Tesla for infringing its patents with the new Tesla all-electric Semi. Tesla says “it’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit.” At this point, it's worth pointing out that Elon previously made all of Tesla’s own patents available to its competitors.
As of September 2020, the lawsuit was still grinding its way through the courts. In what must have come as no small satisfaction to Tesla though, Nikola (NKLA) later became embroiled in scandal, with short-selling firm Hindenburg Research accusing the firm of fraud and claiming that its truck didn’t actually, um, work. Founder and former CEO Trevor Milton and Nikola (NKLA) itself then came under investigation by the Department of Justice.
Nikola Tre / Nikola
Temporary halt of Model 3 productionTesla briefly pauses production of its Model 3 electric car, claiming a long waiting list and a bottleneck at the factory.
April Fool’s failMr Musk plays an April Fool, using his fave platform Twitter to have a laugh with his fanbase. Tough crowd this time though, and his joke wipes 8% of the share price.
He built up anticipation early in the day, tweeting “Important news in a few hours…” After its worst-performing month in seven years, people were understandably curious, but they got pretty freaked out when he tweeted that Tesla had gone bankrupt.
“Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt,” he joked. “Elon was found passed out against a Tesla Model 3, surrounded by "Teslaquilla" bottles, the tracks of dried tears still visible on his cheeks.”
People panicked. We thought it was funny.
Tesla bleeds as SpaceX soarsJust days after Elon Musk famously sent his cherry-red Tesla Roadster into orbit as part of the SpaceX rocket test launch, Tesla announces a net loss of $675.4m for Q4 2016, its largest yet. Perhaps they should have kept the car.
Coming off the back of disappointing Model 3 sales and delays in production, the news pushed the stock down from $352.05 on 20 February to $266.13 on 26 March, wiping over a fifth of the company’s value. A slight bounce came when Elon announced that he’d work for free for the next 10 years.
Starman / Space X
Musk moves into flamethrowing. Sorta. Remember The Boring Company, that tunnel business that Musk tweeted about back in 2016? Well, he actually went and did it. Or at least, he set up a company and a website. Not sure how well the tunnelling side is going but turns out that what the public really really wants? Flamethrowers.
That's right, Elon legit manufactured and sold 20,000 "not a flamethrower"s emblazoned with The Boring Company logo at $500 a pop, making a cool $10m in the process. Cue an avalanche of videos comparing them to actual flamethrowers. Didn’t have anything to do with Tesla either but, as always, Musk’s flamboyant antics had a knock-on effect, and the share price took an upwards jump.
In other news, Tesla unveils a unique new compensation plan for Elon: he’ll only get paid if he reaches certain massive milestones, including a Tesla market valuation of $650 billion. That’s bigger than Amazon (AMZN), and more than 10 times Tesla’s current size. Good luck, dude.
Not a flamethrower / The Boring Company
Pepsi orders 100 Tesla trucksIn an early Christmas present (and a touching display of faith), PepsiCo (PEP) slaps down a $2m deposit for 100 Semi all-electric trucks, the biggest order yet. Is there a rival all-electric alternative to Coke (KO)’s famous Christmas trucking ad on the way? We sincerely hope so.
Tesla’s Semi revealedThe big reveal of November is Tesla’s Semi, sparking a lot of excitement over Thanksgiving. The Semi is Tesla’s bid to break into the freight market, and it’s a big step. The vehicle is a beast: a battery-powered Class 8 semi-truck, with four separate engines to boost power, and Autopilot as standard. First announced in 2016, production was expected to begin in 2020 but was delayed.
According to Tesla, it will come in both a Standard and a ‘Founder’s Series’ version, at an estimated price of $150,000 and $200,000 respectively, and a range of between 300-500m. Online reservations have been available since 2017 and Tesla says that it has already received substantial pre-orders from corporates including Pepsi (PEP), Walmart (WMT), and Anhauser-Busch (BUD). Tesla says that when carrying an 80,000lb load the standard model will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 20s.
However, some people have expressed doubts – in 2018, Daimler (DAI)’s head of trucks Martin Daum said that the Semi would “defy the laws of Physics.”
Tesla Semi / Tesla
Sexy new Roadster rolls onto the stageTesla goes back to its roots with the all-new Roadster, revealed at the same launch party as the Semi, and it’s pretty damn cool.
The new prototype Roadster model takes Tesla full circle to tap back into the luxury sports car market again, with a swanky new version of its original sports car. Expected to start at around $200,000 ($250,000 for the 1,000 limited edition ‘Founder’s Series’ models), Tesla promises an ambitious 620m range and an acceleration speed of 0-60mph in just 1.9s – which would make it the fastest road-legal car in the world. In fact, on its website Tesla is already calling the new four-seater “the quickest car in the world.” Originally scheduled to go live in 2020, deliveries were delayed to 2022 due to Covid-19.
The marketing drive has already gone up a gear though. Following on from its first public reveal at the Grand Basel Motor Show in 2018, the new Roadster has been hawked about all over the place as Tesla looks to drum up publicity for its flagship new motor. In November 2020 it was even featured on The Simpsons, owned by Leo diCaprio and with a license plate reading ‘King of the World.’
Musk is also getting all competitive with Porsche (PAH3), which set a new record for the fastest electric car lap at Nurburgring in 2019. In September 2020, Musk promised to bring a Roadster over to Germany to test its own performance at the legendary “green hell” track.
What’s even more exciting are some of the new specs that are trickling out as the car gets closer to production. In 2019, Musk teased the world with the optional Roadster ‘SpaceX’ package, which will include actual rocket thrusters to “dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking and cornering.” He also said that the thrusters would “maybe even allow a Tesla to fly.” Hot air? Maybe, but we can totally see Musk as Danny from Grease.
Tesla Roadster / Tesla
Pushing up production with PerbixTesla ramps up its production process, buying up Minnesota-based factory automation firm Perbix to help it build “the factory of the future.” The share price doesn’t budge though.
Terms weren’t disclosed, but the firm had already been a supplier to Tesla for almost three years, and was the logical next step in its bid to cut costs by automating the manufacturing process. “With the acquisition of Perbix, Tesla further advances its efforts to turn the factory itself into a product – to build the machine that makes the machine," it said.
Are gasless gas stations the future?Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel suggests that Tesla could turn some of its supercharging stations into convenience stores selling cold drinks and snacks while people wait. Basically, a gas station without the gas. Everyone needs a bathroom break on a long journey, right?
Tesla’s hyperloop pod breaks recordsDid we mention that Elon Musk wants to build the world’s first hyperloop? Yeah, that’s a thing now. And in August 2017, his Tesla branded hyperloop pod (the thing you travel in) achieved a record 220mph in testing.
What’s a hyperloop, we hear you ask? Basically, a sealed tunnel that can transport you at hypersonic speeds and – pay attention, this bit’s important – still deliver you alive to your destination. Musk first proposed it back in 2013 through SpaceX, and in July 2017 tweeted that he had received “verbal approval” to build a hyperloop between New York City and Washington, DC. Lucky he created that random tunnel-building company a while back then. Looks like your journey to Capitol Hill could soon get a whole lot quicker.
Model 3 hits the mainstreamThe first hotly anticipated Model 3 finally rolls off the production line on July 7, with the first deliveries taking place on July 28.
The most hair-raising move from Tesla in years, and one that the company has been gunning for since it started, the Model 3 was Tesla’s big push into the mainstream, affordable market, and its first car to be priced below $70,000.
Codenamed ‘BlueStar’ by developers, it’s been in Tesla’s business plan since 2007, although it was only unveiled in 2016 and started production in 2017.
The vehicle struggled at first with production problems and failed to hit the volumes it hoped for – not helped by over ambitious statements from Mr Musk, who promised up to 200,000 Model 3s in the second half of 2017 – four times as many as the firm actually managed to produce. Nevertheless, it’s been popular ever since launch, winning the highest number of advance orders ever.
In February 2019 the new $35,000 Standard Range model was released, and as of 2020 the Tesla Model 3 was the world's best-selling electric car of all time, with more than 500,000 units already delivered.
Model 3 / Tesla
Heavy shorting as bubble burstsTesla’s market value rose above $62bn in June, raising fears of the ‘b’ word – fears that seem real in July, when the firm releases Q2 results marking further losses along with lackluster sales results and lower-than-expected pre-sales of the Model 3.
By July, the firm had lost 20% of its June high, and was the second-most shorted stock on the market. But bear in mind, at the time legendary fund manager Ron Baron predicted Tesla’s stock could break $1,000 by 2020, which is exactly what it did. Wish you’d listened to him, right?
Tesla gets into the repairs gigIn its Q1 2017 earnings letter, Tesla announces plans to open its first self-owned body repair shops, which it says will “significantly improve the customer experience with out-of-warranty body repairs.” Gotta keep those cars shiny.
Photo: Enis Yavuz / Unsplash
AutoNation CEO takes a swing at TeslaMike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation (AN), the biggest car retailer network in the US, calls out Tesla’s high valuation.
Following a recent bull run, the company’s share price topped $313, making its market cap bigger than General Motors (GM), something Jackson said was “inexplicable” given that GM produced over 10m cars a year and brought in revenues of over $9bn. He called Tesla “either one of the great Ponzi schemes of all time or it’s gonna work out.”
Speaking at an auto show in New York, he had some scathing words. “What would impress me about Tesla? Selling vehicles at a profit would be very impressive. Giving away vehicles at below what it costs you to make them is not very exciting.” Hmm.
CFO leavesCFO Jason Wheeler announces he’s leaving: shares go down.
Autopilot saves lives, says NHTSATesla’s crash rate dropped 40% after it launched the semi-autonomous Autopilot software, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigating a May 2016 fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S. That’s good news.
Elon promises tunnels to end traffic hellElon Musk gets sick of sitting in traffic, decides to build tunnels instead. Is he joking, or is he serious? Hard to tell sometimes. The market seems to like him though – Tesla’s share price continues to rise throughout December.
He says he’s going to call it “The Boring Company.” Tagline: “Boring. It’s what we do.”
Tesla in a tunnel. The Boring Company
SolarCity merger sees shares bounceTesla merges with SolarCity in August as part of its long-held plan to extendo-reach its supply chain and move further into sustainable energy. Shares initially drop, but bounce up again a few days later as the market absorbs the impact.
The all-stock deal had an equity value of $2.6bn, valuing SolarCity common stock at $25.37 per share – a price some analysts complained was too high. Tesla got greater economies of scale from the deal, claiming cost savings of $150m in the first year alone. The stock rose despite concerns over what S&P Ratings called “significant risks related to the sustainability of the company’s capital structure,” which in corp-speak means they think Tesla might’ve paid too much for it. It’s not all bad though – the acquisition offered Tesla greater economies of scale, with the firm claiming cost savings of $150m in the first year alone.
The company projected that the deal would add more than half a billion dollars in cash to its balance sheet within three years.
Tesla goes Deutsch with Grohmann acquisitionTesla doubles down with the acquisition of Germany’s battery automation specialist Grohmann Engineering, now known as Tesla Grohmann Engineering, as part of its drive to scale up production to half a million cars a year. The share price jumps slightly to $194.94.
The acquisition was turned into Tesla’s Advanced Automation facility in Germany, a subdivision focused on improving automation and streamlining its manufacturing process. Elon called it “our first acquisition of significance in our whole history” and expected it to achieve “exponential improvements” in the production process.
The financial terms of the deal were never disclosed, but the buyout is widely seen as a smart move – especially in competitive terms. In January 2020, Daimler (DAI) had to slash the production targets of its flashy new Mercedes-Benz by 50% due to a battery shortage – a problem it blamed in part on Tesla’s earlier acquisition of Grohmann, which had previously been used by Mercedes to build batteries for its electric fleet.
Hackers gonna hackResearchers from Keen Security Lab, a division of the Chinese internet giant Tencent (700), found a remote vulnerability to hack into the Model S – a fault that could allow malicious hackers to take control of the car and cause some serious damage.
“With several months of in-depth research on Tesla Cars, we have discovered multiple security vulnerabilities and successfully implemented remote, aka none physical contact, control on Tesla Model S in both Parking and Driving Mode,” they said.
Don’t worry though – these are the good guys, and they had already worked with Tesla to patch the flaw before going public. All better now.
SolarCity announcementTesla announces plans to buy solar energy firm SolarCity for $2.6bn. People aren’t sure about the move. The stock loses 2.04% to close the day at $230.01.
Photo: BrokenSphere / Wikimedia
Fatal crash sends stock into freefallA driver tragically dies in a crash involving a Tesla using self-drive software. Needless to say, it’s not a good day at the company’s press office.
Negative headlines spun up around the world, and America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation. The Tesla PR team responded with a somewhat-prickly statement pointing out that “autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.” The response did little to support the share price, which went into a four-month spiral, plummeting back below the $200 mark.
Fundraising to fuel Model 3 productionTesla announces plans to raise $1.4bn through a secondary stock offering, with another 5.5m shares to be purchased by Elon Musk via a stock option exercise, in order to "accelerate the production ramp of Model 3.”
Mario Kart Easter egg discoveredTesla makes it onto Mario Kart in a clever PR stunt that pulls attention away from a worrying Model X recall due to faulty seats.
When the Model S or Model X is in Autopilot mode, the instrument cluster shows the car "driving" down a road. Normally it's a boring grey one, but engaging Autopilot four times in a row turns it into Rainbow Road from Mario Kart instead. I mean, it’s literally impossible to stay on that track, so here’s hoping the autopilot is a better driver than we are.
More excitingly, did you know the Model S also has a secret James Bond mode? An Easter egg discovered in January turns the car into a Bond-style Lotus Esprit S1 submersible onscreen. Musk has always been a fan – back in 2013 he bought the real iconic submarine car with a bid of $866,000.
Model 3 wins big to push back price Generally speaking, 2016 doesn’t start well. In January, the world loses David Bowie while Tesla loses almost a third of its value – partly due to an uncertain timeline for the Model 3 launch, and lingering doubts over production capacity.
Morgan Stanley (MS)’s Adam Jonas cut his top price target from $450 to $333 while brokerage firm Stifel (SF) warned that heavy short-selling could cause yet more share price bleeding. But, the Model 3 announcement in March met with a doubleplusgood reaction from the market, upping the stock back over $240. With more than 300,000 pre-orders, things are looking up.
Model 3 / Tesla
Lesson: don’t piss off Elon MuskI think we’ve all figured out by now that Elon Musk doesn’t take criticism lightly. And oftentimes, he’s in a position to hit back. In February 2016 Californian venture capitalist Stewart Alsop learns this to his cost when he writes an open letter to Musk criticizing a Model X launch event. His mistake? Not waiting until his new Model X was delivered. Musk is so mad that he goes ahead and cancels Alsop’s order. No new car for him.
Go park yourselfIn its software update 7.1, Tesla unveils a supercool new feature called ‘Summon’ that lets the car park itself kerbside. Musk calls it "just a baby step," promising that a Tesla would be able to self-drive across the US by 2018.
"Ultimately you’ll be able to summon your car anywhere … your car can get to you," he said.
Things go wrong in Hong KongTesla’s all-singing, all-dancing Autopilot mode hits a speedbump in Hong Kong. The firm is asked to disable automatic steering and lane change functions by the Hong Kong Transport Authority due to safety concerns.
Self-drive sends stock soaringOn September 29, Tesla finally begins deliveries of the delayed Model X, its first crossover utility vehicle, originally slated to launch back in 2014.
Global Model S sales were also up 50% from the previous year, raising investor confidence. Despite a slight lull early in the quarter, the share price was given a kick up the butt in October by the confirmation of Tesla’s self-drive software, enabling Autopilot. Further gains followed news that the firm was in talks with China to produce its electric cars domestically.
So what did the Model X look like? Basically a spaceship, especially given its crazy falcon wing doors. It was Tesla’s first attempt at an SUV, and Elon famously called it “the most difficult car in the world to build,” due to its blend of advanced technology, futuristic features (including the famous falcon-wing doors and a windshield claiming to be the largest single piece of glass ever installed on a car) and high-level performance.
Although announced in 2012, full production was delayed until 2015, and the firm initially struggled to meet its 25,000 pre-orders. The car started at $139,000 for the top performance model, but subsequent trims reduced the price somewhat and in 2020 the Model X started at $84,990, going up to $104,990 for the Performance version. The only seven-seater EV in the market, the Model X initially struggled with range due to its size and bulk, but most of these kinks have since been worked out. The Long Range Plus model in 2020 had a range of around 350 miles, while the Performance version can manage 305 miles. The car comes with Autopilot as standard, as well as an optional Full Self Driving system.
Model X / Tesla
Stock sale pressures priceA surprise stock sale raises $738m to pay for the new Model X production and ambitious $5bn Nevada battery factory — but worries over Tesla’s balance sheet place a further squeeze on the share price.
Maximum PlaidTesla announces the new $10k ‘Ludicrous’ speed upgrade for its Model S, and it’s awesome. But wait – there’s more. Buried in the press release is a throwaway sentence that is actually some of the biggest news the firm has come out with in years.
“There is of course one speed faster than ludicrous, but that is reserved for the next generation Roadster in 4 years: maximum plaid.” Yes, the iconic Roadster is coming back, and it’s going to be a fast one.
Why “maximum plaid?” Glad you asked. It’s a homage to the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs, in which after achieving Ludicrous Speed, the ship Spaceball One GOES INTO PLAID.
“What have I done??? My brains are going into my feet!!!”
"It's Tesla. They've gone to plaid." / MGM
Battery swapping idea dead in the waterAt the Tesla shareholders meeting, Elon Musk admits that the battery swap idea (technology that allowed batteries to be swapped over for seamless charging) is probably dead in the water.
“What we're seeing is a very low take rate for the pack swap station. So we did an initial round of invitations, where we did basically like 200 invitations, and I think there were a total of four or five people that wanted to do that, and they all did it just once. So, okay, it's clearly not very popular,” he said. The people want what the people want, Elon. And apparently, what they want is supercharging, not swapsies.
Elon becomes used car salesmanTesla quietly launches a pre-owned vehicle program offering older versions of its Model S for lower prices than new models.
Tough earnings callTesla stock falls by 4.76% on the back of a tough earnings call in which it says over 1,000 Model X shipments slipped back into 2015 because of "a combination of customers being on vacation, severe winter weather and shipping problems (with actual ships)." Musk is still confident though – he predicts the stock will go into “insane mode” over the next decade. Dammit, we hate it when that dude is always right.
"The stupidest car in the world"Elon Musk’s kid calls the Model S “the stupidest car in the world” because it doesn’t have reading lights in the back. Musk shrugs, takes it on board, installs reading lights. Good to know he can accept constructive criticism.
Model S, "The stupidest car in the world" Photo: Tesla
Battery swaps, upgradesTesla says that it'll finally start offering battery swaps for the Model S as a quicker alternative to charging. In other news, it also launches a massive upgrade for existing Roadster owners, which makes them all very happy.
Model X launch delayedOriginally scheduled for delivery in 2013, Tesla announces in November that the long-awaited Model X launch will be pushed back yet again, now due in Q3 2015, because it needs to do more testing.
The firm is kinda defensive about the whole thing, calling the delay "a legitimate criticism" of the company but only because it would rather "forgo revenue... than bring a product to market that does not delight customers." Well, it’s hard to argue with that. Unless you’re a shareholder.
Auto-parking, all wheel drive and South ParkTesla takes its first step toward automated driving, with a teaser for new features for the Model S that allow the car to park itself and sense dangerous situations.
The firm also announced plans for an all-wheel drive option of the Model S sedan that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds yet doesn’t compromise the vehicle’s efficiency. Like having a “personal roller coaster,” promised Elon Musk.
In other news, Tesla gets featured on an episode of South Park, and Elon is delighted.
Elon gets featured on South Park in S18 E4: "Handicar"
Ring ring… who’s there? It’s your carThe new Model S upgrade now allows you to start your car and drive it with your iPhone. That’s some space age stuff right there.
Panasonic powerTesla and long-standing partner Panasonic (6752) sign an agreement to cooperate on the construction of Tesla’s first large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the US (the Gigafactory).
The agreement laid out that Tesla would prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities, while Panasonic (6752) would manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery, and other manufacturing tools. It was a pretty big deal, because making its own batteries was a crucial step in scaling up to mass market production levels.
Gigafactory 1. Photo: Smnt / Wikimedia
Attack is the best form of defenceSales are booming. Tesla’s first quarter shareholders’ letter reported “the most rapid expansion in Tesla’s history” with a record 7,535 Model S vehicles produced for global delivery.
The firm also confirmed plans to expand its factory capacity to boost Model S production and kick off the hotly anticipated Model X, for which production design prototypes are already underway. New stores, new service centers and new Superchargers were also kicking off, and the Shareholder Letter also announced the planned construction of the exciting new Gigafactory. “2014 is already a very busy year,” said Musk.
New Jersey banMusk gets into yet another fight, this time with New Jersey and its car salesmen. Why? Because New Jersey decides to ban direct car sales by manufacturers in order to protect car retailers, a move that basically decimates Tesla’s business. Musk hits back with a furious blog post ‘To the people of New Jersey’ that is, um, less than tactful, accusing the state’s lawmakers of brokering a backroom deal with car dealerships and calling it “mafia” tactics.
This went down, unsurprisingly, like a ton of bricks with the state legislature and the car dealers themselves. “He needs to stop and take a breath," Jim Appleton, the president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automobile Retails, told The Verge. "If you’re an internet billionaire, maybe you think the world revolves around you, and the world springs from your laptop. Well, I got news for him... With all due respect, his legal opinions are about as sound as my programming abilities."
The story has a happy ending though. In 2015, the state granted Tesla an exemption, allowing it to sell its own cars through four showrooms. All’s well that ends well.
The Flag of New Jersey. Apparently its official color is buff
Tax break boosts confidenceThe California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority confirms that Tesla will not have to pay sales and use taxes on new equipment worth almost $500m. This equates to a $34.7 million tax break. Good times.
Short-sellers get stungTesla’s share price almost quadruples between April and September 2013, backed by A++ reviews of the Model S and five-star safety ratings in federal crash tests.
Confidence was up due to the firm’s newfound profitability, which created a whole new class of ‘Teslanaires’ – investors who took $1m+ to the bank from betting on the company. But not everyone wins; short sellers trying to squeeze the stock got badly burned as it continued to rise (making Elon very happy – he’s long been tweeting on how damaging short sellers are to Tesla).
Goldman Sachs gives a thumbs downGoldman Sachs (GS) analyst Patrick Archambault issues a price target of $84, a 34% discount to the previous close of $127.26, and the market listens. The stock bottoms out, losing 14.3% over the day to close at $109.05.
Archambault suggested three scenarios for Tesla: based on how many cars it would sell, market share and operating margin. The best case scenario had the company reaching 3.5% global market share with a 15.2% operating margin, but even then he only predicted a share price of $113. Oh, how wrong he was.
Looks like a lot of people took his predictions with a pinch of salt anyway – the rapid fall presented a toothsome buying opportunity, and the stock jumped by 10% the very next day.
Confirmed profit pushes priceTesla already has a diehard fanboy and fangirl following as one of the most volatile stocks on Nasdaq – and May 2013 sees the first big jump in which early investors can start cashing out.
On May 8 the confirmation of a Q1 profit of $11m, its first ever quarterly profit, saw the price jump 24% the next day and a massive 40% by the end of the week. Fortune favors the brave, after all.
Photo: Saketh Garuda / Unsplash
Coming soon: profitStock surges to all-time high as Tesla announces that the upcoming Q1 earnings report would show a quarterly profit for the first time in its 10-year history. Stock jumps 15.94% to a record $43.93.
New York Times 'disaster' driveIt’s another war of words, as Elon Musk takes massive objection to a disastrous review in the New York Times of a Tesla test drive. The newspaper had a few nice things to say – calling the Model S “a technological wonder” – but on the whole the review is appalling and Musk, in his usual calm, considered manner, hits back with insults and accusations.
NYT journalist John Broder claimed that he had a terrible experience with the Model S, which consistently performed below the promised range, leaving him limping along with no heating in freezing temperatures, and requiring multiple recharges and technician calls. According to the article, the car eventually ran out of charge altogether and needed to be towed away. Musk was furious, taking to Twitter, TV and a Tesla blog to call the article a fake story, and attacking Broder personally. “Our Model S never had a chance with John Broder … he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running,” he insisted.
The NYT stood by its journalist, but Tesla wouldn’t let it drop. Why? Possibly because back in 2008, legendary UK motor show Top Gear had also claimed that the car had run out of charge during a test drive – an accusation that enraged Musk so much that he actually sued for libel. The case was dropped by a British court in 2012, but the Broder saga obviously touched a raw nerve. Musk eventually hit back by publishing reams of data that he claimed was from Broder’s drive, and which contradicted many of the claims made in the article. “While the vast majority of journalists are honest, some believe the facts shouldn’t get in the way of a salacious story,” he sniped. General unpleasantness ensued, resulting in an awkward statement from the NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan concluding that there were “problems with precision and judgement, but not integrity.”
But more importantly for traders was the impact on the share price. Musk claimed in a Bloomberg TV interview later that month that the negative review had wiped $100m off Tesla’s stock market value in just a matter of days, and that the firm had seen several hundred order cancellations as a result of the article. He might have a point. The share price fell from $39.48 the day before the story was published (February 7) to $37.04 a week later, a loss of $2.44 per share, and a 6.2% overall decline – which would equate to around $278m lost from its overall market cap.
It wasn’t just the bad article that made February a bad month though. The following week on February 20, Tesla released some pretty dire financial results (including a $396 million loss for 2012, around 56% worse than the previous year) which saw its shares drop 8.8% the following day.
European distribution center opensTesla announces a major new European distribution center in Tilburg to serve as its European service and parts headquarters, as well as the final assembly and distribution point for Model S vehicles sold in Europe.
General production of European left-hand drive Model S is due to begin in March 2013. Great news for everyone, except the British.
Superpowered superchargingTesla unveils its highly anticipated Supercharger network. The market likes it – stock jumps 2.13% to end the day at $30.66.
Constructed in secret, Tesla in September 2012 revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations, which would allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona.
Limited edition red Model S launchesTesla ships its limited edition US Signature Series Model S series, with just 1,000 available, including a never before or after seen, optional Signature Red exterior coloring. You know you want it.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson / Flickr
New models, little impactThe first all-electric Tesla, the Model S, launches on 22 June 2012 and by and large, people like it. The Model X SUV was unveiled a few months earlier, although production wouldn’t get going till 2015. Both did little to the share price, which ticked along below $40 for the rest of the year. Investors seemed confused whether this was a car company or a high growth tech stock. People still ask this.
But let’s talk some more about the Model S, because it’s pretty cool. Designed for the luxury consumer market, the model (development codename: Whitestar) was Tesla’s first big push into the mainstream. A five-door sedan with a range of over 300m and a significantly reduced charging time compared to the Roadster, the car was a hit, voted Car of the Year by well-known US magazines Motor Trend and Automobile in 2013, ranked the top-selling electric vehicle in the world for 2015 and 2016, and passing 250,000 units sold in September 2018. From 2014, the Model S has included Autopilot self-driving software.
In August 2016, Tesla introduced the Model S P100D with ‘Ludicrous mode’ – the third fastest accelerating production car ever produced, with a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds, second only to the LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder. The Performance 200D model of 2017 can accelerate from 0 to 60mph in around 2.28s. The Model S comes in numerous different versions, differing in terms of battery size, power, and internal equipment. As of 2020 the price starts at around $85,000 – going up to $119,000 for the Performance model. “It is obviously an expensive vehicle… without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 development,” points out Tesla.
Model S. Photo: Tesla
Abu Dhabi dumps Tesla stockAbu Dhabi State energy firm TAQA sells a 7% stake in Tesla, reportedly because they got spooked after Elon Musk said that 2011 might be a tough year. They made an estimated $113m profit on the deal so 👏👏👏. But given that they sold at just over $34 and as of August 31 2020 the share price was up at $2,500, they might possibly wish they’d hung on to it.
Want to rent a Tesla? Now you canTesla announces its first leasing program in partnership with Athlon Car Lease, introducing the Model S into corporate fleets across Europe. Great news for those of us who can’t (yet) afford a Tesla of our very own.
No more RoadstersTesla ceases production of the Roadster, its iconic first car. The world mourns its passing.
Launched in February 2008, the Roadster was Tesla’s first flag-plant in the world of electric cars: its first ever highway-legal, entirely electric vehicle. Able to travel over 200m (320km) per charge, the car used a standard lithium-ion battery that could be recharged in a standard wall outlet, although it’d take you about two days to do so.
With chassis and body design from British race car company Lotus, at its launch it cost just over $100k – making it out of reach for all but the wealthiest buyers (or lottery ticket winners). Upgrades included the Tesla Sport (a souped-up version that could accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 3.7s, compared to 3.9s for the standard Roadster), the Roadster 2010 model (its first major product upgrade, with a new luxury interior, better suspension, and various other features), and the Roadster 2.5 (which had a jazzed up image and new power control hardware).
By the time it ceased production, Tesla had sold about 2,450 Roadsters across 30 countries. However, the firm didn’t abandon the model (or its owners) completely. In December 2014 it offered an optional upgrade to existing cars, including new tires and a battery upgrade that boosted capacity by 50%. Way to repay early loyalty.
Panasonic partnershipPanasonic (6752), the world’s leading battery cell manufacturer, signs a supply agreement with Tesla to use its automotive grade lithium-ion battery cells in the Model S.
In 2009, Panasonic (6752) and Tesla initially entered into a supply agreement and in 2010, Panasonic (6752) invested $30m in Tesla to deepen the partnership. The Model S deal was just the next step in their beautiful friendship.
First showroom opens in the NetherlandsTesla opens a new showroom in the Netherlands. This electric vehicle gig is going global.
Tesla launches Hong Kong service centerTesla launches a service center in Hong Kong, bringing the Roadster to the South Asian market.
Central Hong Kong. Photo: Florian Wehde / Unsplash
“Phenomenal” results across the board...apparently?Tesla announces $72m in revenue in the first 6 months of 2011 with a net loss of $107m. Elon calls it "phenomenal across the board" and the "best quarter" in the company's history. The market emphatically does not agree, and the stock loses 9.01% the next day, closing out at $24.75.
Capital raisingTesla prices its follow-on offering of 5.3m shares of common stock at a price to the public of $28.76 per share, the closing price for Tesla shares on June 2, 2011. It raises $152.4m to finance the development of the Model X.
Also known as a secondary offering, a follow-on offering is another issuance of stock after the IPO. Tesla also offered its underwriter a 30-day option to buy another 795,000 shares, and separately sold another 1.41 million shares to CEO Elon Musk and privately placed 637,475 shares with Blackstar Investco, an affiliate of minor investor Daimler.
The total raised in the end amounts to about $234 million. Not bad.
Design studio gives customers what they wantTesla takes auto retail hi-tech with a design studio that allows consumers to customize, view and share their own Tesla electric vehicles on the web, on their smartphones and iPads, and at Tesla stores.
“The Design Studio’s goal is to personalize the Tesla experience,” said George Blankenship, Tesla’s VP of Sales and Ownership Experience. “It’s the most advanced configurator any automaker has come up with, letting you choose exactly what you want, look at it from every angle, and see it in the wild.”
Strong Q4 resultsRevenues for Q4 2010 are $36.3m, up 16% from Q3. Looking at all of 2010, gross margin improved to 26% up from 9% the year before. Slow, but steady progress.
Toyota tie-upTesla expects to get about $60m in revenue from building the electric guts of the upcoming RAV4 sport-utility vehicle for minority stakeholder Toyota (TM). Market likes the news. Stock up 4.09%.
First showroom opens in FranceVive La France! Share price closes at $20.41.
Tag Heuer World Tour ends in ParisTesla famously has a “$0 marketing budget” these days, but it wasn’t always like that. The company might not run ads, but in September 2010 the TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster arrives in Paris at the conclusion of its historic world tour, the Odyssey of Pioneers, which saw it circumnavigate the globe in celebration of TAG Heuer (LVMH)’s 150th anniversary, arriving in Paris the day before the launch of Tesla’s new showroom. Epic PR stunt, amazing publicity. And, we bet, a pretty awesome party.
“This trip was about showing people the boundaries of an electric car’s performance, durability and efficiency,” Musk said. “This tour demonstrates that the Roadster can go the distance – whether you are commuting to work or embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.”
First loss since launchTesla announces its Q2 results (up to June 30, 2010) and it doesn’t make for great reading. Everyone knew the firm wasn’t profitable but the reported $38.5m losses are a big step up from $29.5 million in Q1, and the share price takes a hit: falling 3.14% the day the results are announced and continuing to decline over the following week to hit a low of $17.39 on August 12 before making a mild recovery.
Roadster 2.5 drives to the moon (not really)Tesla introduces the brand new Roadster 2.5 with updated styling and an upgraded interior, its fourth model in two years. Over 1,200 Roadsters are now driving in 28 countries with first sales in Canada, Japan and Hong Kong during Q2.
By July 31, customers had driven almost 6 million miles in their Roadsters. That’s like driving round the earth 120 times. Or 26 times the distance between the earth and the moon. Basically, it’s a heck of a lot of miles.
Tesla Roadster 2.5. Photo: Overlaet / Wikimedia
IPO makes a surprisingly small splashTesla lists on Nasdaq, selling 13.3m shares at $17 each to raise $226m. The share price increases 40.53% over the day to close at $23.89. By IPO standards, it’s nothing to write home about. It might be hard to imagine today, but at the time Tesla was having a rough ride of things, having almost gone belly up in 2008, mainly due to the global financial crisis.
The company was only saved at the last by a $50m investment from German carmaker Daimler (DAI) in April 2010 and another US$50m injection from Toyota (TM) in May 2010, just months before its IPO. That investment accounted for nearly a fifth of the company. Even with all that extra cash, plus the IPO money, it took years for the firm to pull itself out of its money worries.
Still, seeing Elon outside the NASDAQ building with his Roadster is pretty dope.