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No-Shows, But Tesla and Musk Still Have Strong Presence at NAIAS

But can California carmaker survive the new onslaught of competition.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.17, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed off a prototype Model S in 2010, the last time he attended the NAIAS.

Battery-electric vehicles may still account for less than 1% of the U.S. new vehicle market, but they have had a notable presence at this year’s North American International Auto Show – something that many credit to a manufacturer that was notably absent from Detroit’s Cobo Hall convention center: Tesla.

Cadillac made a major splash during the first media preview of this year’s show, when it not only revealed the new XT6 utility vehicle but announced that it will be the first General Motors brand to use the automaker’s new all-electric platform for another SUV debuting in 2021.

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Electrifying!

Throughout the show, automaker’s either revealed new battery cars and concepts or outlined their plans for an electrified future. Volkswagen, for one, announced plans to invest $800 million to add production of two new all-electric models at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Tesla Breaks Ground on New Shanghai Gigafactory

Musk expects plant to be completed by midyear.

by Michael Strong on Jan.07, 2019

Tesla's Elon Musk said he expects the new Shanghai plant to be complete during the second quarter.

Tesla chief Elon Musk extended his vision of a world dominated by electric vehicles by traveling to Shanghai, China, to break ground for the company’s newest plant, Gigafactory 3.

Always the optimist, Musk said he expects construction on the massive 210-acre facility to be complete by the middle of this year with finished products rolling off the assembly line and out the doors by the end of this year.

Global News!

“With the resources here, I think we can build the Shanghai Gigafactory in a record time,” Musk said during the rain-soaked ceremony. (more…)

Tesla Misses Sales Target, Cuts Prices – And Investors Are Not Amused

Company cuts prices $2K to offset drop of $7,500 tax credit to $3,750.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.02, 2019

Tesla shareholders aren't entirely thrilled with the company's 2018 results and the stock price reflects it.

Tesla’s New Year is off to a shaky start, investors driving down its stock price while fretting about the company’s unexpectedly weak fourth-quarter sales and the potential hit the carmaker will take in 2019 as it watches its federal tax incentives phase out.

It wasn’t all bad news. Tesla’s total 2018 sales nearly matched what the company had delivered in all previous years combined, and after suffering through what CEO Elon Musk had once described as “production hell,” the Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California, appears to be humming along. But deliveries during the final three months of 2018 fell about 1.5% below analysts’ expectations. And now, Tesla has to worry about what will happen as the $7,500 tax credits offered by the federal government begins to phase out.

Business News!

“We are taking steps to partially absorb the reduction of the federal EV tax credit (which, as of Jan. 1, dropped from $7,500 to $3,750),” Tesla said in a statement, adding that, “Starting today, we are reducing the price of Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles in the U.S. by $2,000.” (more…)

Tesla Cars Will Add Auto-Park Feature, Musk Tweets

Vehicles will be able to go hunting for a spot without a driver.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.01, 2018

All Tesla Model 3 sedans and newer Models S and X will be able to download the software.

Tired of circling around a parking lot looking for an open spot, perhaps missing a meeting while you wait? Or perhaps you want to don’t want to have to traipse back in snow or rain?

Tesla plans to solve those problems with a series of update that CEO Elon Musk said will start rolling out within six weeks for owners of recently built versions of its products. Upgrading the existing version of Tesla’s “Summon” auto-park feature, it will let a driver get out of their vehicle and then send it off to find a valid parking spot all on its own.

Park Yourself Here!

Noting it will simply require an over-the-air software upgrade,” Musk tweeted on Halloween eve that the new feature “will work on all cars made in past 2 years.”

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Musk’s Boring Company Set to Offer Test Rides in Pilot Tunnel

Short stretch to debut on Dec. 10.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.22, 2018

On Dec. 10, Elon Musk's Boring Company will offer free test rides in Los Angeles its test tunnel in California.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company plans to unveil its first “test tunnel” in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne on Dec. 10, and will offer “free rides” to the public a day later, the 47-year-old executive tweeted.

The ultimate goal, Musk previously announced, was to set up a network of underground tunnels that will permit vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists to whisk around the City of Angels at speeds of up to 150 mph, avoiding the city’s notoriously gridlocked streets. Musk has indicated rides for individuals could run as little as $1.

News You Can Trust!

“The first tunnel is almost done,” Musk tweeted Sunday night to his 23 million followers. The pilot tunnel  “Opens Dec 10,” he tweeted, adding, “Opening event that night & free rides for the public the next day.” (more…)

CEO Musk Risks Becoming Liability for Tesla

Stock plunges again after weepy interview, SEC probe revealed.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Aug.20, 2018

Musk has said he's been working up to 120 hours a week - but is that really benefitting Tesla?

(This story has been updated with a comment by former GM V.Chairman Bob Lutz.)

Since the era when Lee Iacocca was the seemingly ever-present face of Chrysler, perhaps no other automotive executive has been more closely linked with his company than Tesla’s constantly tweeting CEO Elon Musk – and Iacocca didn’t have access to the social media tools that routinely help Musk make headlines.

But the events of recent weeks have started raising questions about the 47-year-old Tesla chief’s role, some observers beginning to wonder whether Musk is starting to become more asset than liability. That has become underscored in recent days as backlash continues to mount over the tweet Musk posted early this month announces his goal of taking Tesla private and suggesting that the necessary funding had been “secured.”

News Now!

That has triggered a new probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed last week, about the same time Musk sat down by an unexpectedly emotional interview with the New York Times that raised questions about both his health and his ability to remain at Tesla’s helm and, as this week begins, it has led to new warnings about Tesla finances, the automaker’s shares taking a sharp tumble as Monday trading began on Wall Street.

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Good News, Bad News: A Round-Up of the Latest Tesla Developments

Whistleblower reveals defects; SEC probing Musk tweets and a key analyst raises earnings forecast.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Aug.16, 2018

Former Tesla employee Martin Tripp tweeted images of what he claimed were faulty Tesla batteries.

Regulators, whistleblowers, analysts and investors? Oh, and did we leave out factories finally emerging from “production hell?” It’s been a busy 24 hours for Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, with a heavy mix of both good news and bad news.

Here’s a summary of key developments including claims for a quality cover-up, an SEC probe and the possibility that Tesla could wind up being more profitable this year than even its most bullish proponents had expected:

Whistleblower claims Tesla covered up battery problems, delivered defective cars to customers.

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Beyond the Headlines!

Tesla’s battle with Martin Tripp – a self-styled whistleblower whom the carmaker prefers to call a saboteur – is heating up. The former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has tweeted out images of what he claims are defective lithium-ion battery packs that were nonetheless installed in sedans to help Tesla speed up production of the Model 3. Tripp also posted of vehicle identification numbers that he claims are equipped with the batteries which, among other things, may have punctures.

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Musk Apology Underscores Increasingly Erratic Behavior

"Do you think I'm insane?"

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jul.18, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has come under increasing fire for comments made in recent months.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has issued an apology for calling one of the divers involved in the rescue of a soccer team caught in a Thai cave a “pedo,” shorthand for pedophile.

The overnight tweet marked one of the rare times the South African-born executive has retreated from what have become increasingly erratic and aggressive comments that, in recent months, have taken aim at journalists, Wall Street analysts, regulators, and even the victim in a fatal crash involving one of Tesla’s battery-electric vehicles.

Beyond the Headlines!

Musk, much like President Donald Trump, has become a regular user of Twitter, developing a broad audience and a loyal fan base for himself and for his company. But as with the president, some of Musk’s tweets have begun raising eyebrows and this week’s attack on diver Vernon Unsworth caused collateral damage to Tesla’s stock which tumbled when Unsworth threatened to sue the eccentric billionaire.

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Wall Street Souring on Tesla

A good week gone bad.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jul.09, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is promising the company will be in the black by the third quarter.

What was supposed to be a great week for Tesla turned out to be anything but, with analysts and investors largely ignoring CEO Elon Musk’s jubilant announcement of hitting the company’s production target, instead turning increasingly bearish amidst a sharp stock sell-off.

The roller-coaster ride could continue during the next few weeks as Wall Street waits to see what Tesla will report when it releases its second-quarter earnings announcement. The company delivered record losses during the first three months of this year and is expected to remain deep in the red through the end of June. The longer-term question is whether Tesla’s rising production of the critical Model 3 battery-sedan will finally translate into the black ink and positive cash flow Musk has repeatedly promised.

Product News!

For now, however, it appears that a growing number of analysts aren’t particularly optimistic. Of the 31 analysts who cover Tesla shares, 10 now offer “sell” guidance, nearly one in three. A roughly equal number list TSLA shares as “hold,” with only a third now recommending investors “buy.” It is rare, according to the Bloomberg news service, for analysts to go with a “sell” rating, most signaling displeasure with “hold” guidance. (more…)

Tesla Claims Employee Tried to Sabotage Plant – But Refuses to Say if Authorities Were Notified

Musk blames employee who didn’t receive promotion, hints others might be involved.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jun.19, 2018

In a letter to employees, Tesla CEO Musk said the Fremont plant was the subject of sabotage.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk advised employees late Sunday that the company had been sabotaged by an employee who sent “highly sensitive” data to unnamed outside parties, but he and Tesla have so far refused to provide details, declining to even say whether police or other authorities, such as the FBI, have been asked to investigate.

Musk’s e-mail to Tesla workers, first reported by CNBC, was sent hours after a small fire at the Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California briefly shut down due to a fire in its welding area. The incident was deemed minor and work quickly resumed. Tesla has been struggling to boost the factory’s output, primarily of the new Model 3 sedan, and has gone to an around-the-clock production schedule.

Breaking News!

In his note to employees, Musk said an employee committed “quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations,” among other things making “direct code changes” in Tesla’s manufacturing system while also sending “large amounts” of “highly sensitive” company data to an address outside the company.

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