Category Archives: TSLA

Leaving, returning to TSLA proved timely

You may recall TeslaMondo divested its shares of Tesla and Mobileye last summer and sank everything into Nvidia. Here was the plot:

“Tesla and Mobileye will likely trade sideways for a few months while NVDA rises. TeslaMondo plans to pile back into TSLA, with more $$$ in hand, in time for part II of the Model III reveal. As for MBLY, we’ll see. The company will become increasingly important for sure, but Model III will arrive first. So think of this move as going to the ATM to withdraw more money for TSLA.

Well, here’s how it shook out:

  1. Part II of the Model III reveal still hasn’t come, regardless of what Tesla says.
  2. Mobileye, which TeslaMondo bought long ago, then bought some more, then sold — was suddenly gobbled up by Intel.
  3. NVDA stock did indeed explode in the second part of 2016 while TSLA unbuttoned its pants and took a nap on the couch, exactly as predicted.

Sticking to the plot, TeslaMondo sold NVDA in chunks in early 2017 and started buying TSLA. Some $$ was diverted for other uses, so there’s some missing money here:

portfolio check 4-10-17

Overall, the plot panned out well. Partial credit goes to pure luck, of course. Who knew that Trump and Tesla would get along at all, never mind tete-a-tete? Who knew that a rapper named Tencent would buy a five percent stake in Tesla? Yeah boyeee! Imagine if 50 Cent follows suit?

Tencent Rapper TeslaMondo

From zero to hero in 13 years? Yes.

Here are some cars you’d see on the street 2004/2005:

Do they have any nostalgic value yet? Are they quaint? Probably not. Do you look at them and say, “Ah yes, I remember those days.” Probably not. In fact, they’re still pretty fresh. So thirteen years wasn’t long ago. Fair enough?

Well, here’s a snapshot of Tesla just thirteen years ago, as described in the Ashlee Vance book:

“Had anyone in Detroit stopped by Tesla motors at this point, they would have ended up in hysterics. The sum total of the company’s automotive expertise was that a couple of the guys at Tesla really liked cars and another one had created a series of science fair projects based on technology that the automotive industry considered ridiculous.”

Now let’s press the fast-forward button for just a split second, to 2017. Tesla is now worth more than Ford and, depending on daily market undulation, more than GM. Among millennials, Tesla is now the coolest automotive-related brand and one of the coolest brands in any industry, says a Google survey.

There’s still room for all of this to come crashing down. Model III might be a brief, kooky anomaly that quickly washes away. Think of the music business. The Monkees outsold the Beatles in 1967. Tesla could be the Monkees. But if that’s the case, who are the automotive Beatles?

With TSLA finally at $300, let’s reflect

How did we shareholders get to this milestone? After all, Tesla has done everything totally wrong for years. Haven’t you been reading? This company can’t do anything right.

The Gigafactory? A mistake.

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Model X? A mistake. Never mind the fact that the world has gone SUV-crazy, with the US the craziest of all. Never mind that Tesla is selling almost as many SUVs as sedans — and for higher gross. It’s all a mistake.

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This article, too, is about the Model X mistake. It violates Tesla’s original mission statement of increasingly affordable cars.

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Autopilot? Another mistake.

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SolarCity acquisition? Mistake. No, disaster.

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And Model III? You guessed it. A mistake.

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So now you know the secret recipe for success is a long string of catastrophic misfires.

Battle of Hoth

Imperial Walkers TeslaMondo

“Its market cap is based on hype and promises versus substance,” said David Cole, an outspoken supporter and investor in Detroit auto makers, and chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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TeslaMondo weighs kei car purchase, because it’s fun being a lightweight

TeslaMondo likes Tesla as an investment vehicle, but has no interest in owning the company’s vehicular vehicles.

In 2015, TeslaMondo bought a 2000 Toyota Mr2 Spyder and, a year later, urged all car enthusiasts to make a similar move. Buy an old-school sports car, an elemental machine created purely for motoring pleasure, before such machines, and the art of driving them, both disappear. Buy a horse before they go extinct, basically.

Toyota Mr2 Spyder, black with red factory interiorWell, sometimes the Mr2 feels too refined, too slushy, not to mention too large. It’s also too middle-of-the-road ordinary. Where’s the shock value in a Toyota that resembles a first-gen Boxster prototype?

It might be time to turn this knob one more notch, to buy a car so raw, so pure, that the Mr2 is rendered a rolling condominium. Yes, it’s time for the “less is more” mantra to become “the absolute least is the absolute most.” And the absolute least, in many measurable ways, is a Japanese-market kei car. Right away we have a semantics problem, for these aren’t really “cars” by American standards. They’re four-wheel motorbikes powered by tiny, high-revving motorcycle powerplants and wrapped in whimsical car-like bodies. But here’s the kicker: These go-carts are totally legit, designed and assembled by major auto manufacturers instead of your drunken uncle Stan.

Illegal in the US, you say? Wrong. Foreign-market cars of all stripes can be imported and driven in the US — and they’re totally exempt from America’s NHTSA and EPA standards — as long as they’re at least 25 years old. That means these cheeky kei cars, kei vans and kei utility trucks, many costing under $10,000, are yours for the taking. And many have low miles on them.

Who sells them? Importers like Japanese Classics, or JDM Auto Imports, or Montu Motors. They take care of the importation and titling agita. Your only legwork, besides getting the car home, is arraigning insurance and registration. Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s all pretty easy. However, a dry practice run might be a good idea. Advice to self: Run your plans by your insurance agent and local registry to make sure it’s all going to work out.

Here are the Big Four in kei sports cars. Big? Another semantics problem.

  1. Suzuki Cappuccino — a teensy Miata
  2. Honda Beat — a teensy Mr2, mid-engined to boot
  3. Autozam (Mazda) AZ-1 — a teensy Ferrari with gull-wing doors, also mid-engined
  4. Suzuki Alto Works — a teensy Dodge Omni Shelby GLH

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The driving experience appears to be at once exasperating and exhilarating. Exasperating because body roll, wheel hop, stability control — puzzles long ago solved in real cars — are unsolved here. Exhilarating because you hear a revvy motorcycle powerplant making motorcycle sounds while you look at a motorcycle instrument cluster and toss around a vehicle that weighs about 600 lbs less than an Mr2 Spyder. Bonus: driving one in the US means you’ve got the novelty factor of a Ferrari F40 — for under $10,000. In fact, there’s a Yamaha kei car with a Ferrari F40 body kit somewhere in Japan:

Yamaha AMI with F40 body kit

Safety-wise, we could learn from motorcyclists. Choose a brightly-colored car for maximum visibility, make sure the exhaust is loud, drive very defensively, avoid people’s blind spots, wear a helmet, and don’t drive it in bad weather. Also, if you have a short commute to work, consider wrapping every utility pole with foam padding, just in case. At least you needn’t worry much about a head-on collision with an oncoming car. Kei cars are right-hand-drive, so you can precisely hug the curb. Just watch out for potholes. They’re unkind to 12-inch rims. If an oncoming car does cross the center line, there’s plenty of room for error. That’s because your car is narrower than a Miata. Not by a couple inches. By a foot.

Two words about parts and service: Screw them. Actually, with the growing interest in kei cars, there’s a growing online parts network. And service? Some of these cars might make sense to the service techs at your local Suzuki dealer. Suzuki motorcycle dealer, that is.

So let’s say after five years of enjoyment, the thing craps out. Just pick a spot on your front lawn and push it there. Instant feng shui. Sure beats a pair of chintzy lion statues guarding your front stairs. Don’t you have some fond childhood memories of interesting car corpses in people’s yards? Saab Sonett? Fiat Bertone X19? Renault Le Car? Well, you could have the king of all yard ornaments for a new generation of car kids.

And you’ll still have your Mr2, running flawlessly as always, happy to forgive and forget.

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When journalists smoke crack, vol 2382

First — Autocar writes an article consisting entirely of stale crumbs about Tesla’s plans to build a small crossover based on the new Model III platform. It throws in a Model Y rendering that looks like a Porsche Macan. Neither the rendering nor the article deserves a single minute of attention.

Then — Claudia Assis from MarketWatch, who has covered Tesla long enough to know better, pretends the Autocar article is some sort of confirmation that Model Y is coming next year. She writes her own rehash of the source piece, and an editor slaps on a nifty headline about Model Y coming next year. So today we were served two hamburgers containing 100% Hamburger Helper.

And yet — TSLA jumps a few percentage points on the mere mention of an inexpensive crossover, so hot is the segment and so ignorant is the layman investor about Tesla’s long-discussed master plan.

Result — Tesla gains market cap because everyone is stupid. Anton Wahlman, a bumbling TSLA short who would happily write about Elon Musk kicking his cat if he could just get a good hidden video, figured out that today’s TSLA bump hasn’t a toe in reality, assuming the bump came from Model Y speculation. The day has finally come when Wahlman made a non-absurd observation.

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