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Tesla has won

Excellent artice, Julian Cox.

Long and detailed, by a battery exec and entrepreneur. In his view, TM has written a winning script, and is starring in its own movie.

Impressive. And from a singularly critical source...

Brian - you just need to read the secret master plan from years ago... says it all. The inclusion of SolarCity there makes it cristal clear that the mission is way beyond cars. And that Mr. Musk knows how to execute was demonstrated before.

Yep. Tesla is just a knight, or maybe a bishop, in Musk's long-term chess game. I try to avoid admiring industrialists, but he's hard not to.

By the way, has anyone heard from John Peterson lately? I really miss his comical criticism of everything EV. Micro hybrids are the future he would say.

The article is a very detailed and fascinating read.

Just a technical hint: disable Javascript in your browser (e.g. use NoScript in Firefox) and the full article will be displayed at once, otherwise a sign-up message is in the way to read the 2nd half of the article.

Wow, the man really took some time to think about it and to write it down. Very good article.

Thanks for the hint. I refuse to sign up for things thus missed the second 1/2.

Brian, help, this guy wrote the longest, hardest to read sentences I have seen! Maybe you can re-edit it for people like me who have a hard time parsing his run on sentences?
good otherwise article, anything to do with TSLA being on its all time high now at 114?

You know what, TSLA even reached a new all time high of 116.20 today.


Good catch with Julian's article. His previous writing on Tesla Motors

covered much of the business and technology questions surrounding Tesla.

He's calling this a catalyst both in terms of the valuation of Tesla and their recognition by the general public as a way to address carbon targets.

Article in IBD today points out that Tesla alone accounts for nearly all the growth in the large luxury sedan market segment this year:

Hello Tesla. This is Julian Cox, entrepreneur and environmentalist.

Turns out that the serial slaying of deranged Tesla detractors is not always appreciated with the same editorial integrity as letting them have at it:

"Hello Julian,

It has come to my attention once again that you have been posting comments that are in violation of Seeking Alpha's terms of use. While I had hoped that you would respect my request and stop posting such comments, you have not. As such we will be setting your profile to read-only status once again, and will no longer allow you to post on Seeking Alpha. Please do not set up any additional accounts.


Note: The first occasion my account was set to read-only status was for excessively slaying the nefarious John Peterson, apparently to something akin to silence. My Seeking Alpha account was re-opened with the following apology from Yosef Levenstein "Upon further review I realize that I misread your comment on John's article and for that I apologize. I have asked our moderation team to restore your account to active status."

This occurred I am led to believe by coincidence, after I showed Levenstein and his boss George Moriarty George this:

I hope I have been of service to you in fighting of swathes of disingenuous FUD on Seeking Alpha - I am pleased to say the two articles I wrote on the subject immediately preceded a significant jump to a new 52 week high.

It has also been heart-warming to see some warmth here at

I, like you believe Tesla is important as a genuine catalyst for economic change to a sustainably powered economy. The attacks I have participated in fighting off are only likely to intensify as the threat to fossil fuel interests from Tesla becomes more and more evident.

All that having been said, I am not comfortable with the notion of censorship for defending the truth (the truth, and a bit of depth of understanding is all it takes to defend Tesla - it's Tesla's enemies that have to make stuff up). I have no particular interest in being a blogger or an author. Is my wish that this event focuses some attention and results in an opportunity to do more for this amazing company, not less.

If you happen to have any objection to my being censored from Seeking Alpha then here are some contact details for they guys responsible:

George Moriarty

Yosef Levenstein

Perhaps if you do write something maybe you would be kind enough to copy me at

If anyone feels that it really matters there is always:

Very best wishes and thank you for the appreciative comments above.


A classic "Julian Cox" rebuttal of an anti-Tesla activist for posterity (before Seeking Alpha closes my account)

OK - why am I "manic" about defending Tesla. Firstly it is not about Tesla. I am manic about defending the idea that Tesla represents. In a very real sense Tesla is an idea that I have worked all my life to make real, I have been there, I know the thrill, the risk taking and the messiah status involved in standing in Musk's shoes, the knowing you are doing the right thing and the inspired clarity of mind (and ruthlessness) that comes with it. I know it first hand and I know the enemy of ideas like this: Its name is short-sighted greed, fear, envy and cynicism. The enemy of that enemy is the truth.

You asked for a fair review - OK

The concept goes like this: I, like Dr Zhenner am convinced that we (humanity) is on track for some impending survival issues in the relatively near term in the form of climate change. (You have been known to demur - but then you would be disagreeing with both of us).

Dr Zhenner comes from an academic perspective which pretty much states forget about looking for ways to make clean energy for existing consumption patterns and growth, instead come at it with the understanding that society should use less energy and cut population size. Now academically that sort of works, however if you were to put it into a policy we are talking about austerity and birth control. Less attractive 'final solution' kind of thinking.

Dr Zhenner goes on to state that all clean energy technologies are built on a fossil fuel economy regardless, and so the only "solution" is to essentially cut living standards and population size otherwise we are only fiddling with the problem instead of solving it.

This is where I start to disagree on lots of levels.

1. Without going into all the details, perhaps it is sufficient to simply state that it is contrary to human nature to voluntarily agree to a reversal in human progress with respect to living standards. The idea might win a prize but nobody will adopt in into their daily lives without a fight.

2. I believe clean energy is only a subset of a fossil fuel when it is a case of only fiddling, however moving in the direction a near complete transformation is a different story. A massive transfer of capital from fossil fuels to solar and so on would ensure that clean energy became a source of the economy and not a subset of it. There is enough solar energy (from the sun) to do that and it can actually be captured more economically than oil per kWh produced, there is also provenly more profit to be made in investing in Solar City (or similar) than in Exxon - that is true for Exxon shareholders or for Exxon itself.

3. If everyone agrees that the objective is both an improvement in living standards and a cessation of risking human survival on a grand scale, then we are looking for solutions that stand to ATTRACT a massive transfer of capital from self-destructive to constructive means.

4. Zehner comes with a hark-back to 1960 hippie culture in which anti-establishment types tried to live in tune with nature. It was entirely ineffectual in its day because the bulk of the economy (the big money) was heading hard and fast in the opposite direction (coal, oil, gas, war, slash and burn deforestation).

5. In my view Tesla (and any businesses founded and led on its core ideals) is the real deal, namely of becoming the seed of something that will ultimately make literally all the difference in the world. Tesla illuminates a path whereby the big money, the whole profit-motivated establishment of human society can envisage an economic boom in doing what needs to be done to align energy and transport with the interests of continued life on earth. It might be tight for time, but if everyone is making money trying then there is literally no harm at all in trying - there's a profit-motivated benefit in trying.

I think this idea is important and I think humoring a debate aimed a dividing sentiment or injecting unhealthy skepticism (cynicism) and fouling the debate with misleading information regardless of motive is very much contrary to what needs to happen here. Tesla embodies that idea, that is why I think it is worth defending, specifically from BS in the form of pervasive cynicism, FUD etc.

Trust this is a useful explanation.

in contect:

an another

"The infrastructure required for delivering hydrogen is trivial by comparison to EVs"

This appears to be confused. Naturally it is trivial to to roll out EVs because the infrastructure already exists, certainly for round-trip travel and increasingly for long distance travel also. Hydrogen is extremely difficult to handle with respect to temperature if liquified, seepage that leads to brittleness of containers, and explosion risk. Also Hydrogen produced from a distant source of electricity is 90% less efficient than simply sending the electricity to market down a wire.

If the hydrogen is produced from Natural Gas (as 95% currently is), there is no benefit at all because it is simply a very inefficient use of Natural Gas which is arguably the most polluting fossil fuel when BOTH production and consumption are considered, and this is definitely the case mile for mile when NG is converted to Hydrogen and used for transport either by direct combustion of the hydrogen or in a fuel cell - certainly in this case Hydrogen is an order of magnitude more polluting than gasoline and diesel.

If one were to follow the logic, there is no possibility that the future can be fuel cells, hydrogen fuel cells only exist to give the petrochemical industry a voice in the green energy debate by stealth. It was exactly this that was used to kill the EV1, a decision that was later acknowledged to have been a bad one that arguably lead the the bankruptcy of GM (it was Hydrogen fuel cells that was used to convince Californian Legislature in the late 1990's that there was an alternative to BEVs).

As soon as the EV1 program was killed, the fuel cell industry was allowed to die on the vine. Many people refer to Fuel Cells as "fool cells" because their only genuine purpose is to deceive. One of the technical challenges apart from the full-cycle inefficiency that, is unsolved issues relating to power density. Typically to make a fuel cell vehicle work, then it will also have to be effectively a Hybrid Fuel-cell BEV whereby the fuel cell slowly charges up an on board battery, the battery has the power to drive the wheels, which the fuel cell does not have directly.

The difficulty in justification comes, when of course the hybrid fuel-cell/BEV only really needs a slightly larger battery and to dispose of the expensive Hydrogen Fuel Cell and then the vehicle is free from a truly cumbersome and dangerous interaction with hydrogen, 90% of the electricity used to make the hydrogen is saved immediately by simply cutting out the fuel cell and charging the battery directly, and naturally the vehicle will be more attractive and higher performance by removing the bulk and the weight of the redundant fuel cell, hydrogen and water tank systems.

and another

Let me try to contribute something without coming across as condescending (I appreciate that the objective is lost already).

1. If you cannot reliably account for the rise of Apple to $700 and its fall back to $385 without reference to technology, competition and fundamentals (none of which changed that significantly) then there is no point in making statements about Tesla. It seems that for the most part the human brain is not designed to access comprehension of brand value directly, and to an even lesser extent the ability to create brand value. There are some who can, Jobs and Musk for example, and some who cannot, Cook for example. The effect of brand value is somewhat analogous to a movie audience simultaneously applauding a great scene in a movie, but the reason why is lost in the analysis of camera angles, lighting, CGI special effects etc. With companies like Apple and Tesla stock markets applaud increase in brand values and boo a loss of brand value more reliably than anything else. It is not even bunk, because the fundamentals track brand value also. In Apple's case, a loss of brand appeal under Cook has resulted in margin pressure, shareholder activism, reduced innovation - and if it carries on much longer it will result in the exodus of key personnel.
Tesla on the other hand is going on a tear in the form of an increase in brand values. It attracts customers, it attracts customers to reserve, pay and wait for products, it attracts word of mouth evangelism, it attracts world-class R&D and engineering talent, it attracts finance on outrageously good terms, it attracts the media to cover the story continuously for free and so on and so forth.

2. This article has one gaping hole in it. "a current enterprise value (EV) of approximately 1.3x revenue". So long as in 5 years time (also 4, 3, 2 and 1 years time) the Tesla is still accumulating brand value, then it is entirely realistic that the forward looking prospects for year 6 are outrageously better than year 5 - perhaps another doubling of sales. If I was to bet, I would bet that would be more likely than not. Something that cannot be said for BMW whose prospects for 2014 can at best be considered marginally better than 2013 with every chance of being mildly flat or mildly negative.

Hence this 1.3 X revenue valuation is at total risk of becoming 2.6 or 5.2 at year 5. It is not reasonable to look at an analogy between the 5th or 6th year of full production from Tesla when it is only just really getting established as a major player, with the 96th, 101st or 102nd year of a company founded in 1916.

in context:

" That's not why short squeezes happen. "

While I am developing some ideas on the subject I would like to agree with that and add something.

1. To paraphrase a piece of Buddhism: Wisdom is to perceive the motion of things that appear to be static. For example a mountain is part of a process that created it and part of a process that will erode it flat again. To state that a mountain solidly exists is an error in this context.

One reason for the short squeeze on Tesla (and repeated short squeezes in future) is the confusion that the Auto Industry is a mountain, and moving it is improbable. As a matter of fact there is nothing discontinuous or abnormal about the flow from railways, to ICE cars to EVs.

2. Another reason for the short squeeze on Tesla (and repeated short squeezes in future) is the idea that sentiment is subservient to fundamentals, and that fundamentals dictate a lower price than the price that exists. By the same argument the market for overpriced flavored fizzy water would dictate the demand for Coca Cola. It does not dictate the price or the demand for Coca Cola. Years ago the Perrier fizzy water brand became associated with benzine contamination. Once given a clean bill of health, the inherent product was the same before and after the benzine incident, but trust in the brand collapsed and hence the fundamentals, market share and so on. Tesla is associated with Car 2.0, fabulous performance and running-cost savings, the future of transportation and a desirable route for humanity to take vs inevitable self destruction or living without modern amenity to live at all. If it was just an expensive electric car without these brand associations, then the market would react differently. Treating the product and its prospects in the market as an expensive electric car without accounting for market forces that add up to product demand and broad desirability of its brand philosophy will lead to an error of judgement: Shorting into a bull market for example, in other words a short squeeze.

3. Failing to account for the firepower of the longs / bulls. It does not matter if some financial model dictates $70 as a correct price if the majority of the market values the stock to $400 discounted for risk and acceptable return on cash invested over time to target. The price will not fall to $70. Believing it will will lead to error.

4. Reliance upon old data, inadequate data-points and expired guidance with failure to anticipate probable growth in fundamentals in the light of the nature of the business. The majority of analysts are guilty of forward projections based on insufficient trend data - TSLA Q1 data is not trend data, reliance upon it will break any statistical model because there is no statistically relevant data set.
There will be a jump (a very large jump) in the trend data on release of Q2 from irrelevant to somewhat relevant. The company is very much in control of which fundamentals to prioritize in operations and it is reasonable to suppose an enormous revision of Forward PE and many other metrics following the Q2 earnings call. Reliance on statistically irrelevant data to short a stock while dismissing the company's business model and ignoring the trend of news flow is an error of judgment, leading inevitably to another short squeeze in the near future.

Elon Musk

Am seeing many poorly argued attacks on "true" CO2 impact of electric cars. Will rewrite attacks 4 max strength & try my best to rebut.

Here is something that may help as some jottings for that Elon:

The worst case figures that even the most ardent anti-ev protagonists (those with competing "green" technologies) can muster is 23MWh embedded energy invested in a battery that delivers 183MWh of service life (to 70% retained capacity).

Calculations for embedded energy in an 85KWh NCA pack range from as low as 12.5MWh and useful throughput range as high as 229MWh. The calculations used here (naysayer figures) are 230% off from the best case scenario, even the average figure is over 100% better for the case for EVs but the naysayer figures are more than adequate to refute the IEEE paper.

IMPORTANT NOTE also: 183MWh on board a vehicle and used at 90% efficiency for motive power replaces 658.8MWh of Unleaded Gasoline (at 33.44 KWh/gal) when burned on board a similar size and weight of vehicle at 25% efficiency.

1. There is nothing to stop that 23MWh coming from solar for the most part, and any criticism of this metric is far more likely to lead to the likes of Panasonic installing solar than quitting battery production. In other words nagging about this is likely to result in an an additional environmental benefit, not a win for this line of thinking.

2. The 183MWh is admittedly more than is required for any normal lifetime in a vehicle, however in the case of Tesla that already partners with Solar City for the supply of batteries as localized grid storage, it is unthinkable that Tesla will not supply ex-vehicle batteries for grid storage that will take advantage of the whole remainder of the 183MWhe (and probably more until the entire service life of the battery is exhausted). The modular design of the Tesla vehicle battery makes the exchange between vehicle and secondary application extremely straight forward.

3. The economics of preparing a secondary market for vehicle batteries lends itself to creating a residual value in vehicle packs, thereby dramatically improving Tesla's opportunity to become a vendor of upgraded vehicle packs, and a continuous supplier of grid storage packs with great value provided to both markets.

@Julian - (if that's actually you) wow, that is a whole lot to process. I won't pretend to understand all of what you wrote in your posts or your article (my backgroud in monetary theory and finance is minimal to none) but it was certainly enlightening nontheless. I'm sorry for the censorship you faced at Seeking Alpha, but thank you for pushing against the entrenched powers that be to further the cause.

Excellent article. Really enjoyed it as did the wife. Keep up the good fight and best wishes.

NoMoDinos - yes it's me alright. Many thanks - I actually think a spot of censorship ads a certain nobility (can't get that to happen in a good cause without really upsetting the bad guys).


I thought your article was an excellent piece on why Tesla is destined for greatness. Is it unrealistic for me to think this company will be worth as much as a Toyota by 2020? That would put it at about $2k a share, no? I'm a huge, HUGE believer that Tesla will change the entire infrastructure of not just the US, but the world. Industrial Revolution #4 (if you count micro processors :P)


I've also been booted from S/A for the exact same reasons. I consider it an honor. I continue to battle the FUD, but mostly for amusement. Nothing on that puny stretch of the internet could possibly even "slow" the widespread adoption of the Model S.

I've enjoyed reading your articles and comments there and watch you do battle with the trolls, shorters, climate deniers, EV-haters, car dealership clowns and mouth breathers.


@lolachampcar - do a google search on "disposable email". If you use such an address you need not hesitate to sign up for things online.

BTW the bad guys can get pretty upset. The following is a message from a an Auto Dealer that I called out on Seeking Alpha for pretending to represent an investment analyst firm advising investors to dump Tesla's stock to $7.50 if not $2.50 USD with a claim that Elon Musk was being investigated by the SEC for Insider Trading.

And so I received the following:

"Hi, You have a big mouth, where do you live, what is your address? "

Julian - that is horrifying but not surprising. You should absolutely consider the resistance you are facing as a mark of honor, and the most assured sign that you are pushing in the right direction. You know what they say about the path of least resistance...

Julian, I've enjoyed your articles, regardless if I agreed at the moment.

Hey, if it makes you feel better, I got booted from SA for arguing with a short that was abusing the SA terms and conditions to spread FUD. They would not discuss my situation, but they booted the other guy a week or two later.


I read your article and it is very impressive. As someone who grew to view ICE cars as caveman techonology headed for obsolescence, I do appreciate the clear, concise yet upbeat analysis of everything Tesla. Keep it up, the paradigm is shifting.

@farzyness thanks (also jewsh, samosam, RedShift, NoMoDinos) mrspagetti, jbunn - I also made a lot of friends. Seeking Alpha is nothing if it gains a reputation as a destination for mindless FUD that goes unanswered. I don't need a functional Seeking Alpha account and Tesla has the perfect system for parting skeptics from their net worth and economic influence - it's called under promise and over-delivery resulting in a rolling short-squeeze.
No, under the circumstances I'd be more interested to see if they need me after receiving a hail of this kind of thing:

"I heard that you banned Julian Cox from posting articles on Seeking Alpha. I have been a huge fan of his content. He is in fact the only author I follow."

"I don't want to read about TSLA on SA if you're not there to comment. I think lots of other readers will feel the same. The others can **** themselves."

Regards the question from farzyness

"Is it unrealistic for me to think this company will be worth as much as a Toyota by 2020?"

No and yes. No is the easy answer, there is nothing inherent in the Tesla business, the global automobile market or the times in which we live to stop Tesla compounding growth at or in excess of 100% annually until 2020 and beyond, and I think that outcome is more likely than not. At Teslive Elon stated that Tesla was at a 25,000 annual run-rate, projecting an 800 weekly (circa 40,000 run rate) by end 2014 and another data point of 200,000 vehicles in 3~4 years time, we are starting to get a picture that looks roughly geometric plus minus the caution applied (and should be applied) to forward looking statements - especially when the object is to keep catching shorts with their pants down to mix a metaphor to perfection.

There is no reason to believe that Toyota can match that rate of growth. So at some point Tesla should be expected to overtake Toyota. More likely than not Toyota will have to injure itself severely to even get in the game considering it is practically impossible to create a credible EV brand while relying on sales of IC cars.

Right now Toyota looks confused and pandering to the Hydrogen fuel cell lobby. Meanwhile Tesla looks primed in my opinion to claim Toyota's Prius business almost entirely with the Gen III. That being the lowest hanging fruit in the market for Tesla. The reason for saying that is when compared with the Prius, Tesla Gen III - (OK let's just call it the Tesla Model T) is just more of exactly what the customer is looking for in a Prius for the same money. Consider an 80% scale 200+ mile range Model S with great suspension, sporty performance when desired, great looks, spacious interior, great infotainment, free Supercharging and the option to buy a version with a small commuter pack and just swap it for a 500 mile range pack at will, and do all that for the same price as a Prius and with even better green credentials, is just a killer proposition. I would expect current Prius owners to crash Tesla's web servers the minute Model T reservations go live.

Regards to concerns, these are not things that are related directly to the business. The first concern relates ironically to shareholders themselves. It is a unfortunate feature of combining human nature with compound success that it comes accompanied by a growing anxiety to get out of the casino. I can well imagine shareholders clamoring to vote Elon off the board rather than have him take $100 billion risks expanding production with the proceeds of 5 or 6 years of compounded gains. Elon must have at least a veto on shareholder panic and ideally a controlling interest to see his vision through more than a few years of compounding. Happily Tesla is capable of compounding on internal cash without further dilution, and the signs of growth discipline and dilution resistance are an encouraging indicator of foresight in this regard.

Secondly, the future concern whether or not Tesla can grow as large as Toyota is for acts of envy and pure evil emanating from a growing body of those who stood in the way and got buried by Tesla's success. To this point there is encouraging anticipation in the policy of offering the olive branch of drive train cooperation, and a philosophy of welcoming competition to the common cause of environmental stewardship. That can cut down on the weight of enemies, but it cannot eliminate it. The example above (an easily debunked accusation of insider trading) is childish compared with what the Oil industry will do (no point in saying might do) to Elon and/or Tesla unless the oil industry "gets it" that they can become energy companies by divesting from oil and gas and investing in utility scale solar, wind and hydro. Here is a really beautiful example of an oil company (Total Oil) setting out to stay rich the right way, by incubating a self-disruptive business unit: This is really GREAT stuff - it is so great it is like the opposite of burning down a rainforest.

Nevertheless, one only needs to look at the failure of De Lorean for a sobering warning, and it has nothing to do with the car they made. While the DMC-12 ended up as nothing more than a quirky variant on a Lotus with unspectacular power and handling (nothing like the market differentiation enjoyed by the Model S) and the company had terrible execution compared with Tesla - neither the planned chassis nor the planned engine ended up in the product. Nevertheless the company may well have survived anyway were it not for CEO John Delorean being set up to be framed on video released to the public (by the FBI no less) for Cocaine trafficking. By the time he was acquitted after a lengthy trial, his reputation and the company was lost. As I said, my concern for Tesla is nothing to do with the business of making and selling cars. This is not a prediction of doom but a description of the esoteric obstacles that come with the job. For example from someone who has been there and done it for the same reasons in essentially the same business, I would like to see Elon be a bit less self-sacrificial and place a higher priority on building a personal financial and legal fortress for the sake of the business.

Your article was masterful, and I have consistently been pushing members to read it. Your SA 'adventures' astonish and appall me.

Here are a couple of data points you might like to take on board: first, Elon's disinterest, expressed several times, in 'brand' marketing. He takes almost a pure "build it and they will come" approach to product design and quality. Absent that, branding is hollow. With it, branding is automatic.

Second, the CO2 issue is irrelevant. The projections it spins off have universally failed. To take a wider POV, plants have spent a few billion years populating and holding the O2 in the atmosphere by 'eating' CO2, to the point of near suicidal famine. Returning tiny percentages of what plants and shellfish have sequestered in hydrocarbons and limestone and chalk to the atmosphere is only fair, and is resulting in significant greening of the planet. Unnecessary fears may fortuitously draw many into the Tesla users camp, but sheer delight at the performance, and even the stimulating psycho-physical decompression driving a Model S engenders, will keep them there. For good.

That is an under-appreciated market force. It's a valve, a one-way passage. Tesla drivers are repulsed at the thought (or experience) of regressing to ICE use even briefly. Permanently is out of the question.

Did you ever read the 100% market share article?
A Silicon Valley denizen began comparing recently tagged Teslas and other luxury sedans when the Model S began penetration.

For the Dr. Zhenners of the world, you might want to note that the UN Population Survey is issued in three Bands: high, medium, low. The Low Band is the only one that has ever been right, and is almost never cited. Its lower edge, in fact. Currently, it projects population declining precipitously from a 2045 peak of under 8 bn., with drastic aging and even inversion of the population pyramid by 2100. De-pop is the danger!!

As for energy costs, they are a real and imminent murder weapon. Here's one of a series of articles by Willis Eschenbach which correctly name that spade:

Another writer demolished the shortages meme in these essays a few years ago:

Dr. Z. is both dangerous and delusional, almost in Paul Ehrlich's class.

The best summary is this, I believe:
“Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age”.—Professor Richard Lindzen MIT [emeritus, now]

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