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Tesla is about to release its Model S sedan. Despite operating at a loss, despite never having turned a profit, despite being the recipient of government loans (which the right wing hates about the Volt), despite its stock price dropping due to perceived competition from the Toyota RAV4 EV, some Wall Street pundits are still bullish on Tesla.
Why? Well it promises decent range:
Tesla: The Time Has Come
The Tesla Model S will give you significantly more range than a Nissan LEAF or any other practical all-electric car to date. The Nissan is EPA-certified at 73 miles on average. Tesla claims 160 miles for the base version of the Model S. ...
Tesla will also sell you an alleged 230-mile and a 300-mile version of the Model S. Each step up is $10,000 more.
Who will buy these cars? According to Rocco Pendola, writing for The Street, rich people will.
Sell Ford, Buy Tesla on Growing Income Inequality
We have what I will hesitate to call an income inequality "problem" in America. I use the word "problem" with caution, as that word can take us deep into subjective territory. Objective data does show, however, that both income and wealth concentrate in the relatively small upper echelons of society. Expect that trend to hold constant or intensify, but not revert meaningfully anytime in the foreseeable future. ...
My bull case on Tesla has always focused on three things:
- Tesla's ability to build a revenue bridge between models by developing EVs for other companies, such as Daimler and Toyota.
- The existence of that revenue as an additional stream of income during periods of core EV sales.
- Tesla's prime and well-positioned target market.
Again, that target market is ... rich people:
It's well-to-do types from places like Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Southern California who will fork out more than $50,000 for a Model S, just like they did for Tesla's inaugural $110,000 (sold-out) Roadster. ...
To achieve this level of success, Tesla does not have to concern itself with a very large portion of the population.
So far, Pendola's few commenters think he's nuts. I have to wonder if rich people will buy a car from a company that abandons customers with bricked batteries—but that's just me. But Pendola is also concerned that no one will have enough cash to buy Ford's EVs:
At day's end, in a nation (and world) increasingly divided between haves and have nots, I do not want to be long companies, for the most part, that serve an uncertain "middle class" American. Nine times out of 10, I get bullish stocks that serve the relatively poor and the modestly-to-filthy rich.
While this somewhat snobby view of the landscape does not sit well with my socially conscious side, it is what it is. I do my best to not let that part of me influence my investment decisions to any great extent.