Just a bump in the road?
It’s not impossible to imagine a certain amount of Teutonic chuckling in the strategic planning bunkers of Stuttgart, Munich and Wolfsburg. When Tesla announced its targets for the production ramp-up of the Model 3, Germanic eyebrows were raised in quizzical fashion. Now that Tesla’s third-quarter results have shown that the company missed its production targets by a country mile and has plunged to its biggest-ever quarterly loss, it may be hard to resist suggesting that, “for you, Herr Musk, the war is over.”
However, it is far too early to write off Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as he has a long track record of setting targets that everybody considers utterly bonkers.
He might not hit them first time off, but he lights the blue touch paper under his teams and they make progress at a rate nobody else gets anywhere near.
Production bottlenecks are hardly unexpected, given the unprecedented ambition of Tesla’s race to mass production, but the danger is that the 500,000 customers who have put a US$1,000 deposit on a Model 3 may lose patience with the delays and take their business elsewhere.
They may also be rattled by news that Republicans in congress are planning an immediate repeal of a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles, which will make a chunky difference to a $30,000 purchase.
This astonishingly retrograde step harks back to an America where the dream was a huge V12 car with the aerodynamic profile of a brick rather than the dangerously liberal, possibly even Scandinavian, appeal of the ecofriendly, hypermodern Tesla.