TSLA stock has had a rollercoaster ride the last few years and especially the last few months. While a few analysts are quite supportive of the stock, most are not. “Big Analysts” (i.e. those with ties to or a bias favoring “Big Oil”, “Big Auto”, “Big Banks”, etc.,) love to point out the quarterly losses, overly optimistic production and sales expectations, limited market and demand, and reliance on government subsidies and green friendly environmental regulations as reasons to avoid or short TSLA stock. Yet the true believers see past the market manipulation and focus on the bigger picture.
There has been a constant barrage of negative political, environmental, economic, and social news and people feel manipulated by the establishment and powerless to affect change. Perhaps Tesla has become part of the anti-establishment (and anti-Trump?) movement. Small investors are buying and holding the stock (and buying even more every time there’s a dip) as protest against “Big Oil”, “Big Auto”, “Big Investor”, “Big Analyst”, and Wall Street in general. Small investors are also buying and holding Tesla as action against air pollution and climate change, both of which disproportionately affect the world’s poor.
Tesla as a company is a brilliant business contradiction, only a stones throw away from “taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor”. Tesla Roadster, Model S, and Model X are unashamedly cars for the “1%”. Yet, Tesla is using the revenue from those cars to produce the Model 3, its first affordable mass market EV designed for the “99%”. In fact, Elon Musk has on numerous occasions thanked buyers of the Roadster, Model S, and Model X for funding the development and production of the Model 3. The press release for P100D Ludicrous variants literally says so:
“While the P100D Ludicrous is obviously an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasize that every sale helps pay for the smaller and much more affordable Tesla Model 3 that is in development. Without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 development.”
After Model 3 is the Model Y, another mass market EV. Tesla’s expanding vehicle lineup, increasing production, and increasing market share has no doubt spurred other automakers into producing EVs, some with even lower starting prices than Tesla. VW for example has promised a 200 mile range EV priced $8,000 less than the Tesla Model 3. One might think that Tesla would be fearful of such competition, but Elon Musk has on many occasions stated that’s the actual goal. Tesla wants and encourages other automakers to make EVs. Tesla has even opened up all of its battery and electric powertrain patents for competitors to use for free. Imagine if Apple opened up its patent portfolio to the world and encouraged all its rivals to build cheap iPhone clones so that everyone in the world could have an iPhone! The steady production of affordable new EVs by Tesla and its competitors ensures a growing supply of even more affordable used EVs, all of which last longer and cost less to operate than gasoline cars. The direct and indirect benefits of world’s automotive fleet transitioning from gasoline to electric cannot be understated.
Beyond the development of mass market electric vehicles, the buyers of the expensive Roadster, Model S, and Model X have also funded the development and deployment of the Tesla Supercharger Network which is critical to the success of Tesla. Availability of inexpensive, reliable fast charging is as important or more important to the success of EVs than the range or price of the EVs. Tesla is currently in active discussions with competitors and has stated on multiple occasions that they want their competitors to have access to the Supercharger network as long as they meet the technical requirements and help pay for the hardware and electricity. This kind of cooperation is rare in the technology and automotive industries.
Tesla’s mission statement is “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. No other automaker or tech company (or any multi-billion dollar company for that matter) has such an ambitious “save the world” mission, “we can’t do it alone” intellectual property sharing philosophy, or blatant “redistribution of wealth” product development plan. The ludicrously accelerating $170k cars, self-driving technology, Model 3 ramp, stock prices, and Elon Musk will dominate the media coverage. But all the while, Tesla’s vehicles, solar panels, and battery storage systems continue to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and particulate air pollution, and Tesla creates tens of thousands of jobs in the United States to the benefit of the lower and middle class. That’s as beautiful an Occupy Wall Street story as one could ever come up with for a 50 billion dollar market cap company.
Beyond the creation of sustainable energy and transportation products, Tesla could actually help the world’s poor in a more direct sense: