Friday, January 27, 2012

New hints on the Model X design

Elon Musk seems to be taking a page out of the Job's marketing handbook with the slow leak of information and buzz that is being generated around the soon to be released design of the Model X on Feb 9th. 

Now they will be live streaming the unveiling, like an Apple Key note this automaker seems to have snubbed the Detroit and LA auto shows to do a private, yet public unveiling via the internet. 

I just read an article in the SJ Mercury News that quotes:

"Theo O'Neill, a cleantech analyst at Wunderlich Securities, has seen photographs of the Model X but has yet to ride in it. As a parent who struggles to buckle his young son into a car seat, he's excited about the Model X's doors, which pivot from the top of the vehicle."

"The doors of the Model X lift up and fold -like the wing of a bird," said O'Neill. "You can walk right up to the edge of the seat. It's the ideal solution for disabled children, or any parent who has to lean over to buckle a car seat."

I hadn't heard this before, or heard about it on the blogosphere. Could what this suggests  possibly be part of what Elon Musk is hinting at when he says it will be the "coolest" SUV.  

The closest concepts I have seen online that think possibly illustrate this idea are below and that would be very interesting:

Or could it be a version of the BMW concept. Instead having the doors that are large like this but they pivot up and then on top of the cars roof like they are folding like the wings of a bird.

All I can say is I'm excited to see what they actually come out with. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Model X Unveiling Feb 9th

Elon Musk is quoted in a december interview for gigaom saying that he thinks the Model X "will be well received". Tesla raised millions in funds for the development of this new vehicle last year in a secondary stock offering, gives the impression they are making a serious push for this vehicle.

The Tesla Model X prototype is scheduled to be announced on Feb 9th which happens to coincide with the Chicago Auto Show. Im not sure if there is a connection at this time. Tesla expects to deliver the Model X to its customers in late 2013 and produce up to 15,000 units in 2014.

Tesla claims the Model X will seat 7, and be roomier than an Audi Q7 and faster than a Porsche 911.

Electric Vehicle News has brought up the question as to whether Tesla will be basing the Model X design on the concept Lotus APX design. Personally I could see how Tesla (who collaborates with Lotus) could have drawn some inspiration from the Model X, but we'll soon see when it is debuted.
I have watched interviews of Tesla design chief Franz Von Holzhausen, and have come to have a lot of respect for this designer. He has designed some of the following vehicles prior to Tesla:

The 2006 Mazda Kabura:

The Pontiac Solstice:
The Saturn Sky

So I am pretty optimistic that Von Holzhausen can dream up an amazing crossover, and when it comes to the new Roadster I'm sure that will be revolutionary given that all these cars above are Roadster type vehicles. I am excited to see what Von Holzhausen will bring us in the coming Model X.

This seems very aggressive for Tesla to produce a new vehicle the year after the launch of the Model S; however this is really exciting and could have the opportunity to piggy back on the success and buzz of the Model S. If people are satisfied with the Model S, then I think a lot of these people will consider buying an SUV/Crossover version, namely the Model X, in the years following the Model S launch. It is important to note that by this time the Toyota Electric Rav4 will have been launched and in production.

Here is an awesome rumors website I have found for Tesla:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why now is the perfect time to buy TSLA

With the recent downgrade by Morgan Stanley of a target price for TSLA to $44/share from $70/share. Now could be the perfect time to buy more of Tesla stock since the share price has fallen from a high of $34+ to now around $29.

Enthusiasm in the broader electric car market has been stalled by general uncertainty over adoption which recently has been augmented by the debacle with the GM volt batteries. Nissan has a successful product and Ford and Toyota are following closely behind. However what people may be missing when looking at Tesla now is the lag between the end of the current Roadster and the beginning of the Model S. Musk has repeatedly talked that the company won't see a profit until after the model S launch and right now we are in that special period where there isn't much news coming out and its just anticipation and waiting for Tesla to fulfill its expectations. The bar is set fairly low with other mass market EV's currently so if the model S is even halfway decent, and maintains with a 300 mile range, then TSLA stock price has a serious hill to climb.

In fact there should be uncertainty in the broader EV car market because so far there simply isn't an EV car out there that is very compelling to buy.

Tesla looks to be coming out with a very compelling electric car and it's first year production is already sold out. The recent downgraded seems to be mainly because of lack of confidence in the broader EV market (which is a valid point) however I personally would not downgrade tesla, since it has been the catalyst for rekindling the EV market and will continue to be the catalyst for the EV market in the future. It is building itself to be the Best of Breed when it comes to EV's, so I see this dip in the stock as a buying opportunity.

My Prediction: [tesla will continue to drop in share price till the announcement in late december of the model X design/ prototype, then TSLA price will go up maybe even to new highs, then the hype will be lost and TSLA share price will drop until reviews of the model S come out after the first vehicles are delivered approximately next summer]

Any thoughts on that prediction? or Any of your own predictions from TSLA fans out there?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tesla 3Q earnings call... interesting developments

So I listened to the Tesla earnings call today and Elon Musk got right to the point saying that "there was no point wasting time in going over the announcements that were in the investor letter that was just published and that he would go straight to questions". His brazen sarcasm was actually humorous and echo'ed of other CEO's famous for being to-the-point-honest. 
Here are some highlights I thought important and I will discuss them in future posts: 

Total revenues in the third quarter were $58 million, up 85 percent from Q3 of last year.

Tesla announced two significant improvements to the Model S at the event. First, we intend to make a performance version of the Model S available at the start of production. We anticipate that this option will enable the Model S to accelerate from 0 to 60 in about 4.4 seconds, faster than a standard Porsche 911 Carrera! Second, we announced an aerodynamic wheel option that is intended to extend the range of the Model S up to almost 320 miles. This range is almost four times more than any other fully electric vehicle on the market (except, of course, the Tesla Roadster). We also released a more detailed set of Model S features. Also because of the large front trunk space and no engine they are optimistic that the model S may have a chance at being the "safest car on the road". 

-We'll see if this has truth to it but the way Musk describes its safety in the earnings call is compelling. 

Model X Advanced Engineering on Plan
We are excited about how the design and functionality of the Model X is beginning to mature. Our vision for the Model X is a vehicle that combines the functionality of a minivan with a design as cool as an SUV. We remain on plan for an exclusive showing later this year.
"Four wheel drive, and Air-Suspension where you can lower and raise your suspension type depending on the depth of snow or rocks you are driving over" -Elon Musk on earnings call transcript 
Since we are leveraging the Model S architecture and powertrain for Model X, we continue to anticipate that Model X can be brought to production quickly for first customer deliveries in late 2013, with volumes ramping to 10,000 - 15,000 units per year beginning in 2014, and at prices comparable to Model S. Importantly, much of the equipment we are currently installing at the Tesla Factory for the Model S will also be used for the Model X. 

I find that the Model X is very intriguing as a new vehicle concept and the fact that it will be able to change it's distance off the ground sounds like something out of "inspector gadget" but awesome non-the-less. 

Overall,the RAV4 EV development program remains on schedule and should be completed by early 2012, as planned. Thereafter, we plan to begin shipping complete powertrain systems for the RAV4 EV to Toyota, under a multi-year contract of approximately $100 million.

We are also pleased to announce the receipt of a letter of intent from Daimler for a full powertrain program for a vehicle in the Mercedes line. Details of this deal remain confidential, but will be announced in the coming months.

This Mercedes deal with possibly creating the drive train and battery for one of their line of vehicles is also icing on the cake to the Toyota deal coming to fruition. If these partnerships follow through all the way through production Tesla could have a great market in supplying parts and their own cars to most of the auto industry. (well maybe thats getting a little ambitious to say that)

Anyways, great earnings call today and keep posted for more news. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why Tesla's Model X is the perfect sequel to the model S

I have been following the rumors surrounding Tesla for some time. There has been chatter and hints from CEO Musk about the upcoming Tesla Model X. Specifically Musk has dubbed it "the coolest" cross over you've seen. I can't help but wonder what will make this bet at in the popular subset, cross-over vehicles, any different from an Infinity, BMW, or Nissan version?

However one cannot ignore the hype around the continued comparison of Tesla to Apple. With Tesla choosing to come out with the "Model X" following the "Model S" does actually seem to be a brilliant business move, and it is actually a move out of the Apple playbook. This move capitalizes on the new market Tesla is creating. They are creating a market for the car buyers who have families, good jobs, pay a premium for groceries at Whole Foods, and shop for athletic wear at Lululemon Athletica. Just look at the facts that are accumulating: The model S will have one of the fastest accretions of any car, and the largest touch screen in any production car; Tesla already has over 6,500 reservations for the Tesla Model S sedans, almost three times as many as Roadster owners. By the looks of these reservations I'd say that Tesla has found a great market to tap into. Tesla is opening its own stores in locations where its target market shops and makes lifestyle choices-boutique mall venues in upscale neighborhoods like Menlo Park and Santana Row in Northern CA.

Now consider this if all those 6,500 reservations holders buy a Model S, install the electrical hook ups in their garage. Assuming they will be happy car owners, (as seem to be Roadster and Nissan Leaf owners). When these upper middle class folks decide to trade in their old SUV or Crossover, Tesla will be just rolling out with their Model X crossover. Once an owner goes electric and never has to stop at a gas station again they will likely think very thoughtfully over adding another Tesla to their collection. This time it will be a "very cool" crossover with all wheel drive and probably better miles/ charge enabling a trip up to Tahoe with the family and skis.

What I am getting at is that Tesla has chosen the perfect vehicle for the model S lovers to fall in love with next. The Model X will quite possibly be that vehicle because of its great functionality and from the amazing interfaces and touch screens tesla is incorporating into its vehicles. The same crowd will likely add a second tesla to their collection. This model X will be built on the same platform as the model S theoretically increasing its margins on sales.

Now Tesla's third generation mass market car is supposedly going to come out after the model X. By this time I would hope the hype of Tesla owners would reach mass markets by the time Tesla has a mass market vehicle for cheap.
For a rough analogy lets look at how long it took Apple to go from the iPod in 2001 to the iPhone in 2007. That's 6 years of building customer appreciation for their brand of small portable devices. Tesla built the first Roadsters in 2008 and expects to roughly build according to rumors the mass market EV in 2015, which is 7 years after Tesla introducing the world to their brand of EV's.

Any thoughts on the degree to which this line of cars may catch on in the mass markets? People are always skeptical but when something amazing is packaged right and sold with the excellent marketing and distribution chains I wouldn't be surprised to watch these three vehicles to be game changers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

3 days driving a chevy volt

Since I have been blogging almost exclusively about Tesla for the past month I thought i would give GM and the Volt a run for its money. I had the opportunity to test lease a Chevy Volt complementary for 3 days as part of their promotional campaign. I jumped on the opportunity and just finished the trial period last week. If I were to "blink" and make a quick overall judgement I would classify this car as virtually equivalent to a modern toyota prius. Although it is very peppy because of the electric engine, the car has to still use lots of gas to generate electricity past the 30 or so charged miles you put on when plugged in over night. Driving electric for the first 30 miles was amazing, but once the engine kicks in for extra range the car pretty much sounds and feels much like a prius. 
After test driving car it really excites me to get out and test drive a nissan leaf thats all electric, or go balls out and test drive a tesla roadster.

One thing that really bothered me was the touch screen. I guess i have been spoiled with my iPhone 4, but the touch interface and center console just pales in comparison to a modern touch screen. And the driving screen shown below was honestly the most confusing cluttered dash board I have ever seen. It really stressed me out just looking at it and trying to search for any useful information on it. 

All those buttons are touch sensitive but permanent on the volt interface, and cannot be changed with a software update. GM does not seem to be thinking of the future of the Volt very thoroughly with an interface like that. Even Ford has done better with its Sync system.

As cars get more savvy with touch interfaces GM really needs to move itself out of Detroit and into silicone valley. Just look at this amazing interface Tesla is developing for their 17" touch display:

Anyways it was great experience test driving a car with an electric motor for 3 days. However when my friends whom i drove around in it ask me if id buy one I would simply answer. Yes I want an electric car, but probably not a Volt.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Amazon Tablet? -the future of mobile commerce

What if the rumored Amazon Tablet isn't meant to compete with tablets at all. It actually doesn't make sense to try and compete with the virtually perfect tablet APPLE  makes.

But what does make very good sense is making a portable store built for every home and business in the world. A portable touch screen store that has a specifically designed UI, and search with suggestion generators for potentially desired products. What if what Amazon is trying to do is revolutionize how we buy and sell stuff like eBay has, and like Amazon already has through the internet; but now they are making it mobile and portable and possibly with a better customer interface?

Imagine a future where you had Amazon prime free shipping and you just used your Prime Pad (lets just call it that) it to buy any house hold idem or book and have it shipped overnight to your house, or play and stream the movie you bought from them through your Prime Pad to your TV.

Imagine Amazon bringing every store front to your living room through the portal of the Amazon store with its affiliates (assuming Amazon when all out and started charging tax to make shipping in all states much faster and easier).