Disruptive Technology

Disruptive Technology

Tesla is up against old tech ICE huge industrial complex. It has the ICE auto dealers arrayed against it nationwide, the auto makers themselves and the oil industry... the entire value chain. Why? Tesla has developed proprietary management tech, enhanced Li-ion cells and has the lowest cost/KW-hr in the industry. It has also developed a hi efficiency, hi performance compact induction motor couple to a microprocessor controlled inverter. Then there is the design and infotainment electronics. They did win the top Consumer Reports award for any kind of car. Then they got an innovative flexible manufacturing robotic operation, that is possible with their unique kind of BEV design. Next, Elon nailed the shorts and raised $1.1B!

The big question is what is next? He has to focus his limited resources in the most decisive aspects of the business. Tesla does not have the time to wait for GenIII battery tech to evolve. They have to optimize the design of Model S to enable precision manufacturing, without extensive rework of bending metal of the kind that caused the recall. Optimize the supply chain to drive costs. Add value added features like smart cruise control, collision avoidance, park assist, etc. Scale production with 2 shifts to 50,000 Model S/year. Deploy Model X production and achieve additional economies of scale to produce 50,000 of these autos. Thus scale production to reduce ASP and get mid-end mass market in the $55-100+k range.

Ultimately, price including cost of operation including energy, maintenance + battery capacity/range + supercharger network will drive global demand. They can also upgrade the battery pack to 500 miles using the newer Panasonic batteries. If successful, this business model can wipe a bunch of industries starting with the auto dealers, a chunk of the oil industry and the hurt the big manufacturers. What do they have? Leaf? Volt? RAV4? BMWi3? Mostly fancy golf carts!

No wonder the ICE value chain consisting of dealers are laying siege to Tesla in the state legislatures. They know what happened to all those record shops, Blockbuster, etc when folks could just plug their PCs in the wall and download songs, video, etc like Netflix. Except for some wild hair moments like the battery swap dog and pony show last night, Elon Musk has what it takes. Unless he makes fatal mistakes, Tesla could become a dominant player in the new auto industry.

ian | 21. Juni 2013

Great stuff as usual Bubba!

A couple points of disagreement. The new Panasonic batteries aren't necessarily fit for use in cars. It has been found that Tesla uses the 18650 form factor but with proprietary chemistry and anode/cathode materials. I think it was JB Staubel that said if you tried to use a regular laptop battery in their pack it would fail immediately. While I'm sure they are working on a longer range battery I just wanted to clarify this point.

Also, I don't see the NADA battle as that of old ICE against new electric, I think it really is more about old boy dealership franchises wanting to protect against manufacturers selling direct. More of a new school sales channels vs. old school sales channels fight.


Bubba2000 | 21. Juni 2013

goneskiian, I agree that in the near term, the supercharger will mitigate range anxiety if not eliminate it. I would rather see Tesla focus on economies of scale with Model S, X. Again, I think Tesla has what it takes to disrupt the ICE age.

wcalvin | 21. Juni 2013

They seem not to talk about it but Tesla has surely considered how to capture fleets as customers.

Superchargers in their own parking garages would do nicely for most fleets (rental, municipalities, big companies), but police and taxi round-the-clock use could also use the local battery swap or lease their own from Tesla. I bet we see some fleet deals before Model X hits the streets.

ian | 21. Juni 2013

Yup totaly agree with you on the focus of S and X economies of scale.

Found that Quote from Straubel re:batteries in SamoSam's interview thread...

I'm very excited to see what kind of disruption this company and this man can have in the not so distant future.


Brian H | 22. Juni 2013

The focus on charging and swapping is necessary to address the persistent and stubborn anxieties of the general buying public. And the costs don't much impact production or release dates; the number$ are an order of magnitude or more smaller.

TeslaRocks | 26. Juni 2013

Love it, and I can't get enough of the Tesla story.

The dealership saga is simply a battle that is long overdue, started by the fact that Tesla was the company to finally bring the direct sales model to the car industry. When I worked for ING Direct, when they were just old enough for the traditional competitors to be seriously annoyed with 'us', you wouldn't believe the lies and stories other banks told their clients who asked about ING Direct in an effort to try and scare them away from 'us'. I love that Tesla is selling directly, it's another way they rock the world and rid us of thieves and tyrants. It's a perfect fit with their business model and ethos.

About the battery swap, I don't see myself ever using it, even when I do someday own a Tesla. But I see why they felt they had to invent it, maybe put a few out in some key locations to end range anxiety once and for all and turn the tables on skeptics, ICE-worshippers, and Broders. I like the fact it is all automated, which is the only way it could ever work. But I doubt Tesla will go big with wide deployment unless there is huge demand for it, which I don't see happening, ever. At least now we can say that charging a Tesla can be done more than twice as fast as fueling up any other car, without even needing to get out of your car.

Although I don't want to minimize the huge risks involved, I think Tesla has a lot more potential than you even described it, Bubba, but then again so does everything that Elon touches. I guess it shows how much people can achieve if they start working together towards a noble common goal instead of just trying to rip each other off.

SamO | 26. Juni 2013

I can't get over that Tesla is planning to leave thousands of battery packs detached from the grid.

They want to build $40K 5kwh battery packs sold through Solar City.

Want to stabilize the grid?

Allow Tesla Model S owners to plug in at work. Let the employer negotiate with the electric company. Or better yet, the building owner can have Solar City negotiate a deal that allows for intermittent battery backup at places where people park. Malls. Airports.

SamO | 26. Juni 2013

Ignore above link to Forbes.

This is the better link:

Bubba2000 | 28. Juni 2013

Even without disruptive battery tech, Tesla has the technology to disrupt the ICE vehicles in a big way. I figure the market has finally figured that out, especially with the supercharger network being deployed. In spite of multiple of negative opinions.

I am waiting for my 85P here in the south. Power is dirt cheap at 8-9 cents/KW-hr. The killer is insurance with State Farm at 993/6 months with State Farm. It is less than what they charge for Mercedes S550.