Who’s Winning The Tesla (TSLA) Tussle? Musk vs NYT Broder

I’ve been covering Tesla Motors (TSLA) for a few years now (not as much recently) and since the company went public in June of 2010, the scrutiny level continues to rise.  With shareholder fortunes at stake and a general skepticism of electric cars, particularly of those not made by Toyota, the microscope has zeroed in on Tesla.  If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that CEO and Co-Founder Elon Musk won’t simply rely on a PR department damage control piece.  He’ll get into the ring himself and throw some punches.

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In 2008, he hit the show Top Gear with a lawsuit claiming the show lied in order to sensationalize the piece where it showed the Roadster dying after just 55 miles along with criticizing the brakes as deficient.  The lawsuit was thrown out last year with the judge saying the show is more for entertainment rather than factual journalism so couldn’t be punished for embellishing the truth (which in fact it had).  Around the same time last year, the brick issue was making the rounds. The latest disagreement (that’s putting it nicely) involves New York Times writer John Broder who wrote about his journey in the Model S from DC to New York which ended with the Model S on a flat bed tow truck.  I won’t get into all the details of the “he said, he said”, but Broder claimed the car struggles in cold temperatures with a significant depletion in range.  Musk countered with tracking data from the car claiming that instructions weren’t followed by Broder. The end result of all this is another round of skepticism that in fact a Tesla made car can in fact be a mainstream car while Broder’s credibility is questioned.  Some point out the fact that he’s not an automotive expert and actually focuses on the oil industry.  Fair or not, you can understand the criticism.  Probably not the best guy to put on this assignment.  It should be noted that the NYT’s auto expert wrote a glowing piece of the Model S in September, but based on a drive in California, not the frigid NE. Taking a step back and viewing the big picture I think most of us can agree that the Model S, which is designed to hit more of the mainstream market, just isn’t quite there yet.  Perhaps in another year or two.  You can start at the price point which is out of the range of most middle class families and then consider the potential issues including lack of infrastructure.  The company originally expected to sell (CORRECTION: deliver.  The company has close to 20K reservations for the Model S and it’s expected to take close to a year to deliver on all these) about 5000 of the Model S in 2012, but estimations are calling for about 3500.  We’ll know the exact numbers once the company releases it’s much anticipated earnings report after the close on Wednesday. Heading into this earnings report, the stock chart for TSLA actually looks considerably bullish, so perhaps traders are forecasting a surprise the to the upside.  The stock broke out of a real nice looking cup with handle base a few weeks ago on decent volume and the pullback off the NYT story at least for the time being is a very normal pull back.  There is STRONG support around $35 and it looks like that level will need to be tested.  Should it be tested and it holds, that would be an excellent entry point.

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To wrap up this post, I just want to say that regardless of whether you believe in electric cars or not, or whether you like Elon Musk, you have to admire the drive and entrepreneurial spirit of Musk.  This is a guy who isn’t afraid to put it all on the line and continue to forge ahead when others say it can’t be done.  This is exactly the attitude that is the backbone of the success of this country and what continues to make it great today.  I’m rooting for Musk and Tesla and do think they will continue to improve the car over time.  Costs will come down  and maybe in a year or two you will see the Jones next door with a Model S in the driveway.

6 thoughts on “Who’s Winning The Tesla (TSLA) Tussle? Musk vs NYT Broder”

  1. How can you write an article like this ? Incorrectly spelling the man’s name ? WTF

  2. Whoops, must have been before coffee this morning 🙂 Man, life must be awesome for you hey Mikey? To have never made a mistake..

  3. If a driver needs continual phone support to get from point A to B, the car’s not ready for the mainstream. I can’t imagine paying $90K for a car I have to constant worry about in cold weather.

    I own TSLA, and am hoping they can get it together. They do make fine looking cars.

  4. Agreed to a point MK, but I’d imagine the need for phone support isn’t all that common. For longer trips of a few hundred miles this probably isn’t your car particularly in very cold weather, but most people are going to drive this within 30 miles each way. To me the biggest issue is with the price point which will come down as production ramps up this year. What’s really needed are 100’s of reviews from owners of the Model S. Note sure if something like this exists. Good luck on your position, the chart looks good.

  5. First, I have a long position in Telsa and have no plans on selling the stock during the next 5 years. I purchased a 1st generation cell phone in the early 80’s for about $1500.00 (company discount when I worked for what was then called BAMS – Bell Atlantic Mobile Phone Services). I was also a software engineer working on the back-end interfaces between the landline switches and billing systems. The battery on that phone lasted about 30-40 minutes and the whole portable kit weighed about 5 pounds. By the early 90’s I had a $99 Qaualcom phone that fit in my front pocket and lasted 2 hours. It is only a matter of time – maybe 5 years at most 10 when the electric car technology is dramatically improved, reliable and far less expensive. There will be high-end low-end and everything in the middle. Maybe NASCAR will even by driving them in races. It is a complete waste of time and money to try and get a charging station on every corner. The market will determine what we need but in reality, the distance will be as relevant then as regular gas stations are today. I like what Musk is doing and sure wish there were a lot more innovators like him in the world.

    MK, stay long on TSLA and be patient. You will retire rich.

  6. Good point Lou, thanks for the comment. I know some grocery stores and perhaps parking lots in strip malls have charging stations. Plugin, do your shopping and be good to go if you forgot to charge at home. Whether people believe that TSLA is a good investment or not, you can’t help but root for its success. If the Model S can cut that price in half then it gets mighty interesting. We shall see.. interesting times.

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