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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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Polestar’s First All-Electric Model Breaks Cover

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.03, 2019

Polestar hints that its first all-electric model will adopt a "fastback" shape.

Volvo’s electric performance division is finally charging forward, the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1 getting ready for production, while the sub-brand’s first all-electric model is set to be “fully revealed in the coming weeks,” it confirmed today.

According to a statement, “The car will go into production shortly after the long-range hybrid Polestar 1, which will enter production later this year.” The automaker also emphasized that Polestar 2 will take direct aim at Tesla’s Model 3.

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Breaking Product News!

The teaser shows an overhead view of the Polestar 2’s rounded back end, so not much to go on beyond the fact that it features very aggressively raked rear glass flowing into a rather short trunk lid. That would suggest either a hatchback or an edgy crossover design, Polestar calling it a “fastback.”

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Chinese EV Maker Byton Unwraps 2nd Model at L.A. Auto Show

“We need a lot of funding,” CEO admits, outlining challenges ahead.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Dec.03, 2018

Byton CEO Carson Breitfield talks about the new K-Byte EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The global automotive market is in the midst of a revolution, something obvious to anyone attending this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Not only are we seeing a push into new technologies like electrification and autonomy, but the established carmakers are being taken on by a variety of automotive upstarts.

To a list that already includes the likes of Tesla, Faraday Future and Rivian, add China-based Byton. The company helped anchor the first day of previews at the L.A. Auto Show by unveiling a prototype of what it says will be its second new model, the K-Byte. But Byton officials also acknowledged that they still face challenges in their road to production.

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The debut of the K-Byte follows Byton’s original prototype, the M-Byte, and targets a relatively mainstream buyer, at least by the standards of the electric vehicle market. According to Breitfeld, the sleek battery-sedan will come in at a starting price of around $45,000 when it comes to market. The target, at least, is to have it reach showrooms in China next year, followed by a late 2019 launch in the U.S., and a European roll-out in 2020. (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 Looks Beyond Model 3 Problems, But Creates Some Headaches in the Process

CEO talks future product, factories – but still sends stock plunging.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on May.03, 2018

Forget those earnings numbers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was far more interested in talking about future products, the next-gen Roadster shown here.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not one to suffer fools – or critics – lightly, as he proved during a 75-minute teleconference call following the release of the automaker’s first-quarter earnings report on Wednesday evening.

The South African-born executive attempted to put a positive spin on what was Tesla’s worst-ever quarterly deficit, promising future earnings while also revealing plans for new factories, new products and a new, fully hands-free version of the Autopilot system. But Musk also offered a harsh assessment of some of the reporters on the earnings call, while repeatedly cutting off analysts looking for long-term financial projections that he dismissed as “boring.”

Tesla News!

“These questions are so dry, they’re killing me,” he interjected before dismissing one analyst’s questions. Musk later shifted his disdain to reporters, at one point suggesting that by questioning the safety of Tesla’s current, semi-autonomous version of Autopilot, reporters might convince drivers to turn it off “and then die.”

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Despite Record Loss, Investors See Silver Lining Pockets in Tesla’s Q1 Earnings

Revenues beat expectation, loss narrower than forecast – but troubles remain.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on May.02, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken to sleeping at the Fremont plant hoping to drive improvements in quality and production levels.

Tesla managed to beat Wall Street expectation on Wednesday, even as it reported the biggest loss in the company’s history.

But revenues exceeded expectations and the loss was actually less than anticipated, while the Silicon Valley automaker noted that production of the critical Model 3 battery-sedan reached 2,270 in the week prior to a temporary shutdown of the Fremont, California assembly plant last month. That’s up from barely 2,000 at the end of the first quarter.

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“The thing I’m most excited about is the rapid increase in output,” said Musk during a Wednesday afternoon conference call with analysts and reporters. “Production is improving dramatically, exponentially, in fact.”

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Wall Street Waiting for Tesla Earnings as Automaker Burns Through Cash

The big question: will Tesla need a new cash infusion?

by Paul A. Eisenstein on May.01, 2018

Tesla is losing about $6,500 a minute - or about as much as a Model 3 costs in the time it takes to read this story.

Whether you’re someone who sees the glass as half-full or half-empty, there’s plenty to ponder as Tesla prepares to reveal its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

The California battery-carmaker saw a big surge in production of its critical new Model 3 during the January to March period – but still fell 20% short of its target. Nonetheless, that was expected to have pushed revenues up 16.5% during the quarter, to $3.14 billion, according to Zacks Consensus Estimates. But with the automaker struggling to get things running smoothly at its Fremont, California assembly plant, quarterly earnings are expected to plunge 153.4%, year-over-year, with Tesla running a per-share deficit of $3.37.

Beyond the Headlines!

Short-sellers seem to be the ones with the biggest smiles these days, as Tesla’s worsening cash burn problem leaves investors wary and worried that the carmaker may soon have to beg Wall Street for money to keep its operations going.

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Tesla Model 3: How Can Such a Good Car Be So Bad

Teardown of battery-electric vehicle reveals many surprises.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Apr.25, 2018

"You can see the gaps from the moon" on the body of a Tesla Model 3, according to Sandy Munro.

With apologies to Charles Dickens, think of it as two tales of a car, suggests Sandy Munro, head of the suburban Detroit competitive analysis firm, Munro and Associates. How can such a breakthrough vehicle also have so many problems, he asks, during a lengthy look at what’s under the skin of the Tesla Model 3.

Over the years, Munro’s firm has vivisected hundreds of automobiles, including a number of new battery-electric vehicles, such as the BMW i3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV. But few teardowns, he suggested, have been more eye-opening than Tesla’s first mainstream offering. In terms of its battery-based drivetrain technology, the Model 3 readily sets a benchmark, but it’s another matter entirely with many of the things an owner more readily sees, including a body with massive quality and fit-and-finish problems.

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“It’s the best of (cars) and the worst of (cars),” Munro said, during a special meeting of the Detroit Automotive Press Association held at his Auburn Hills facility. “Some stuff gets a six, on a scale of one to five, others a one.”

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Despite Problems, Musk Promises Tesla Profit in Second Half of 2018

Stock up, but not everyone convinced.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Apr.13, 2018

CEO Elon Musk shown exiting the back seat of a Model 3 at its debut. Musk still needs to dig out of trouble caused by Model 3 delays.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Tesla, the battery-electric automaker again missing production targets, being accused of improperly firing nearly 1,000 factory workers and being scolded by federal safety regulators for its role in investigating a fatal crash involving its semi-autonomous Autopilot system.

But that has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of CEO Elon Musk. After earlier this week suggesting Model 3 production isn’t delayed but in a “time shift,” the South African-born exec on Friday tweeted a promise that Tesla will be both profitable and produce positive cash flow by the second half of this year.

Promises, Promises!

Musk’s latest tweet came in response to a harsh Twitter post by British news magazine The Economist, which warned Tesla would need to raise more cash this year. “The Economist used to be boring,” Musk responded, “but smart with a wicked dry wit. Now it’s just boring (sigh). Tesla will be profitable & cash flow+ in Q3 & Q4, so obv no need to raise money.”

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Tesla Again Misses Production Target for Model 3

Output up, still 20% short of goal, according to Musk e-mail.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Apr.02, 2018

Tesla is finally ramping up Model 3 production but still has a long way to go to meet targets.

Tesla shares took another 5% tumble on Monday after reports surfaced that the automaker once again missed its production targets for the much-delayed Model 3 battery-sedan.

Delays in the roll-out have hammered Tesla’s balance sheet, with some analysts expecting the California carmaker to have to go back for another fundraising round. It didn’t help to have Elon Musk post an April Fool’s Day joke indicating the automaker would be declaring bankruptcy.

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In an e-mal sent to Tesla workers on Monday, Musk said production of the Model 3 had reached the 2,000 per week mark at the end of the first quarter, but that is still short of the 2,500 target Tesla had projected back around the beginning of the year, and it is even more substantially behind the original target Tesla had laid out when Model 3 production began in July 2017.

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