New weapon in the refuel duel

Remember that big advantage of gas vehicles, and even fool cell vehicles — that they can refuel in about three minutes while slowpoke EVs take hours to charge and thereby ruin the spontaneity of driving? Erase it. A robot can unscrew your Tesla battery and screw in a fresh one before you can utter the words “Formula One pit stop.” Uh, assuming you utter them kinda slowly. Will these Tesla battery-swap stations, the first of which debuts next week in California, proliferate? TeslaMondo thinks not. They’re a groovy option, but probably not necessary for most Tesla owners, who charge overnight in the garage and rarely even need a Supercharger visit. If these swap stations don’t proliferate, it means life with a Tesla is already easy enough. If they do proliferate, it’s another revenue stream for Tesla, an EZ way to upgrade a lot of Teslas if a better pack comes along, and an in-your-face reminder that Tesla wins any refuel duel as handily as a drag race. There’s no negative outcome here, unless a robot cross-threads the bolts and finds itself at the Robot Unemployment Office with Asimo.

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Even Stanley is wrong on this one

Stanley who? Morgan Stanley. The company’s press-friendly and generally Tesla-friendly analyst, Adam Jonas, seems to think gas prices will:

1. Stay recessed for years
2. Hurt desirability of the Model 3

Never mind the first one. It doesn’t matter, because he’s dead wrong on the second one. We’re not talking Nissan or Toyota here. Tesla sells excitement, not mathematical formulae. Excitement doesn’t chart well, but it’s exactly what makes Tesla immune to ROI concerns. It ensures the company’s success in any segment it chooses to attack. Yes, saving money on gas is a nice bonus — a cherry on the cake — but if the cherry shrinks by 25 percent, the cake will sell just the same, if it’s really, really good. So how good are Tesla’s cakes?

Roadster: Simple, potent, proved EVs are exciting. Mission accomplished. Cleared the way for . . .

Model S: Proved EVs have mainstream appeal and are demonstrably better than gas cars. Also, showed the world that Tesla continually improves its products. Compare the new P85D to the original Model S, launched just two and a half years ago. The new recipe is far better, true? Better seats, better onboard tech, better acceleration, better traction, better warranty.

Model X: Sold out for a year. Sight unseen. Price unknown. A home run out of the stadium and into the center field parking lot. Undoubtedly will see similar improvements during its lifespan, so the 2018 version will obliterate the first version. Model X street presence will transform Tesla from a potentially great brand to brandus magnus.

Which brings us to . . .

Model 3: Never mind the Model 3 we’re imagining. Never mind the Photoshopped renderings showing a stubbier Model S. Even the Model S won’t look like the Model S much longer. Tesla will have more self-confidence when it’s time to pen the Model 3 and will likely push the styling envelope. Also, the company surely will discover some other James Bond trickery to throw in, akin to the powered door handles in the S and falcon wings in the X. Musk is a real-life Q, you know. By the time the Model 3 is built, Tesla’s excitement factor will have people wanting a Model 3 whether they’ll save $2,234/year in gas money or $229/year in gas money. Considering it a mere BMW/Audi/Benz/Lexus challenger, with a gas waiver thrown in, is naive. Consumers will have a choice between:

1. A Tesla, by this point representing the new automotive status quo.
2. The other guys, representing the status quo ante.

The price of crude oil can go screw itself. Tesla is immune now and will stay immune through Model 3, unless Elon starts a new habit of leaving the office early, going home, knocking back a few, grabbing the clicker and konking out on the couch.

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Even sub-$200, Tesla has us in brainlock

Tesla brand traction TeslaMondoA new survey of “brand traction” by Added Value, a marketing firm, bolsters TeslaMondo’s assertion that Tesla has us in a brainlock. That’s a good thing. It will correct over-selling like we’re seeing now. Here are the rankings based on a 7500-person survey of “traction.”

Tesla, Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Etsy, Nike, Ford, Coca Cola.

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Lexus might try mall outlets

Toyota has disregarded Tesla’s powertrain solution, but it’s not disregarding Tesla’s retail solution. This frank interview with Ward’s Auto about opening mall outlets should be read as a trial balloon floated by Toyota, akin to a concept car. It’s meant to gauge public (and dealer) reaction. Surely there’s more to come. Tesla is eating Lexus’ lunch in the premium sedan segment and now occupies the runner-up spot behind Mercedes.

The phase-in plan probably goes something like this:

Phase I: Casual mention in the press, to break the ice
Phase II: Quiet discussion with dealerships to ease shock
Phase III: Public announcement
Phase IV: Execution

Will these Lexus outlets be factory-direct or independent? In a stroke of journalistic ineptitude, the Ward’s article fails to clarify that crucial aspect, but rest assured that every automaker would go factory-direct if it could. Remember, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, of which Toyota is a member, has complained about being forced to use dealers while Tesla can skip the middleman.

Complaint 1
Complaint 2

Automakers badly want a direct pipeline to you, the customer. Ford and GM tried it in 1999, but the efforts flopped for various reasons.

Meanwhile, TeslaMondo long-ago predicted that Tesla would expand beyond mall outlets, and more recently, Tesla has indeed said it might expand to a hybrid system of factory-direct mall stores and independent dealerships. Perhaps that’s ultimately where auto retailing is headed, period.

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Penetrating China might not be fun

Earth-boring machine TeslaMondoSee the green attachment to that tunnel-digging machine? That’s probably what it feels like to be president of Tesla’s sales operation in China as the company bores through undisturbed Earth while the rest of the auto world relaxes. Tesla’s original green attachment, Kingston Chang, resigned in March. Here’s an announcement about his departure, by his right-hand woman Veronica Wu, who ended up replacing him at the head of the machine. Well, now Wu has resigned too. This can be viewed from two different angles: Either Musk is putting immense pressure on the machine, or Musk is putting immense pressure on the machine.

Surely the stock will sag below $200 before Christmas. We’ve got images dancing in our heads, and they’re not sugar plums. No matter. TeslaMondo has an itchy finger on the “buy” button. History will show the winter of 2014/2015 was the last chance buy TSLA for less than $200.

 

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Proof of demand, for peeps who demand it

Tesla Montreal TeslaMondo

Tesla’s big Montreal showroom. Click image for video.

Tesla felt compelled to open its biggest North American showroom this week in Montreal, because of rampant public interest there. A Chicago limo service called E-Motion saw its website crash soon after adding the Model S to its fleet, and had to seek private owners for auxiliary cars. Tesla’s October registrations in the US are up 152% over last October. The Model X is sold out for the first year of production before anyone knows what it will look like or what it will cost. Tesla’s Australia launch event caused ecstatic, hallucinogenic phenomena, such as a mysterious woman taking the stage nineteen seconds into this video. Can anyone identify her?

When you couple this stuff with the recent TSLA sell-off, you get a buying opportunity. Tesla will probably never sell near $200 again after this winter. Sure, it has a little more room to fall this winter, but a lot more room to rise in 2015, especially late in the year amid Model X Mania. Sentiment will again grow hooves as people realize the pump is well-primed the mighty Model 3.

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“How Should I Presume?”

Woman with three beasts TeslaMondoCup and underwire patternTesla is open for business in Australia. But there’s a spook story to go along with it. The electrical infrastructure supposedly isn’t robust enough to handle Tesla. “How should I presume?” That’s the question famously asked by J. Alfred Prufrock. Presumably, we should presume Tesla has done its homework before setting up shop, instead of simply presuming everything will go smoothly.

TSLA reversed the curse today, posting a gain. But there’s a spook story to go along with that too. Apparently the stock is forming another head-and-shoulders pattern. We heard the same thing a year ago. So how should we presume? TeslaMondo sees merely the formation of a third bra cup this winter. Look at TSLA’s two-year chart and you’ll get the picture.

The dual-motor Model S is being delivered to customers, but another spook there. Bloomberg reports the EPA says the range is 250 to 242 depending on wheel size. That counters Tesla’s claim that the AWD gets better range than the RWD system.

And gas prices are down, so people feel they’ve got more disposable income. Of course, they could save similar money just by bagging a lunch every other day, but that’s okay. When people feel richer, they buy richer things, like Teslas, right? No. The blush is off Tesla’s rose now that gas is way under $3/gal, according to Simpleton Musk in t shirt TeslaMondoinvestors who have fueled this sell-off and created the best buying opp in months. Fools! The Model S isn’t about ROI in gas savings. That’s Prius stuff. Everyone knows the real appeal of Tesla boils down to Musk’s washboard abs.

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Take Tesla, add Xiaomi, and stir

Xiaomi Tesla TeslaMondo

Model S at Xiaomi HQ

No traditional advertising. Just social media and word of mouth. Factory-direct selling with no middleman. A brilliant disruptor as CEO, still just in his early 40s. In fact, he’s Forbes’ Businessman of the Year for 2014. He’s compared with Steve Jobs quite a bit.

We’re not talking Tesla. We’re talking Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone phenom that ranks #3 behind only Samsung and Apple, and whose CEO is a big Tesla fan. And his VP is supposedly in Silicon Valley right now. Yes, another possible Tesla partnership; another dandruffy head-scratcher. If you can interlock these puzzle pieces, maybe there’s a complete picture somewhere here:

Fact: Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun hearts Tesla.
Fact: Xiaomi plans to enter the EV business and is already working with a major auto company. And the timing is good, because China is trying to sprout more local EV builders by massaging policy to allow non-car companies into this regulated business. However, this article ties Xiaomi to BYD, the poor-man’s Tesla produced by Chrysler.
Fact: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Tesla and Xiaomi are sprinkled together here. And we know Apple has talked to Tesla. What’s the relevance? A bridge between hand-held tech and cars.
Fact: Lei Jun just bought a stake in Misfit Wearables. The company is located in Daly City outside San Francisco. Not Silicon Valley, but close enough. If Lei Jun or his VP were spotted in the area, that alone could have sparked the recent Tesla speculation.

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