A "Cheaper Tesla"!

A "Cheaper Tesla"!

A “Cheaper Tesla”
As a Marketing Specialist, one of the things that I would love very much to see take place at Tesla; is the banishment of the word “Cheap”! One of the very first lessons in sales is that “cheap things aren’t good and good things aren’t cheap”. That said, I am saying that the reference point going forward with regard to the production and subsequent sale of Tesla models that will be affordable for the masses; be termed as “Less Expensive” or “Inexpensive”.
Let other manufacturer’s state that they will make and sale a cheaper car that anyone can afford. As for the Tesla brand which has worked tirelessly to build and brand itself as a vehicle which is manufactured as a solid, no expense spared UN questionably superior automotive breakthrough in technology; nothing short of shear ethics deems the importance of recognizing a description that a Tesla vehicle is never worthy of.
Thus it needs to be understood and I believe etched in stone that when Tesla manufactures an automobile that is affordable to the general public; it be marketed and referred as “Less Expensive”, “Cost Efficient”, or “Mass Market Affordable”; but certainly not “cheap”.
H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert

Dramsey | 4 juillet 2014


Can you provide any examples of Elon or Tesla referring to one of their products as "cheap"?

estephens001 | 4 juillet 2014


You have made my point! They have never referred to one of "their products" as "cheap". What I am referring to is the mention of future products to be produced by Tesla, Musk and company with the reference being a "Cheaper Tesla". I love the sound of "Less Expensive" don't you! It is a mind set and it should be and I believe to a degree it is in the mind of everyone associated with the brand.

H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert

Brian H | 4 juillet 2014

Marketing loves euphemisms.

estephens001 | 4 juillet 2014

Here, here Brian!

That's my point Brian. When being interviewed on the subject of "mass market cars by Tesla"; whenever someone says "cheaper" they will be corrected! Thus, it is a backdoor way to transfer the mindset to the populous via the media with reference to Tesla, Musk and company!

Well said Brian, well said!

H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert

Dramsey | 4 juillet 2014

Well, Eric, the thing is this: you say... of the things that I would love very much to see take place at Tesla; (sic) is the banishment of the word “Cheap”!

...but as far as anyone can see, Tesla's never used this word to describe one of their products.

So you're railing about a problem that doesn't exist, and I don't see the point of your post. It might as well have been something like "One of the things I would love very much to see take place at Tesla; (sic) is the banishment of flayed baby seal upholstery."

buddyroe | 4 juillet 2014

This may be the most bizarre thread I have read on this forum.

estephens001 | 4 juillet 2014


Not at all; let me try it this way. When Tesla brings to market let’s call it the EM model, they can say it is “Less Expensive” than the model S. However Tesla has created a price point that is comfortably suited for “Mass Market” appeal.
Listen, selling is nothing more than transference of feeling. To quote the great Zig Ziglar; “If I can make you feel about my product, the way that I feel about my product, you are going to buy my product”.
So whenever anyone associated with the brand has the opportunity to help shape the way the market speaks of a “Less Expensive” future Tesla automobile; they will help to shape the public perception that “Less Expensive” equals same Tesla quality.
H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert | 5 juillet 2014

"less" vs. "more"
you are right, but "less expensive" is still an euphemism. Instead, you should transfer a "better" feeling. "less" is still something "pejorative" - I want to have something "better", "more". So, Tesla has to identify the unique selling proposition…

a non-marketing-expert…

estephens001 | 5 juillet 2014

My Dear German Tesla Fan,

It is clear that you are a "non-marketing-expert" and I mean it in a loving way. Consumers are generally tickled pink when they pay "les" for something they should pay more for. Thus it can be said that this act alone does in fact make one feel better!
Gentlemen, we can go round and round with this as much as you like. The fact of the matter is people want to feel as though they got a good deal on a great product; that is what excites the consumer and moves them to tell and recommend a friend. In many of the interviews which you may find if you look all across the board; whenever mass market vehicles become subject matter, "cheaper" is the buzz word for descriptive purposes. All I am trying to get across to you, is there is opportunity to create a self imposed response with regard to Tesla vehicles. One that leaves them out of the "cheaper" car conversation and moves them into a conversation in which Tesla and the word "cheaper" are never used in the same conversation. One may think it doesn't matter, but to the average consumer from 50 personal years of marketing experience, I can tell you it does.

H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert

drax7 | 5 juillet 2014

Apple has stated that they will never sell a cheap iPhone. Learn from the experts.

alcassfast | 5 juillet 2014

Somebody needs decaf.

bigd | 5 juillet 2014

When you speak of cheap price it does not infer the product is cheap. It actually gives the impression that you are getting a good deal. If you said the vehicle is cheap, then you are referring to the product. I enjoy hearing that I got a product cheaply priced. But in all honesty, this is the cheapest thread I have read on here.

estephens001 | 5 juillet 2014


Thank goodness, you enjoyed it!

H. Eric Stephens
Having fun now
Marketing Expert

buddyroe | 5 juillet 2014

@alcassfast - You nailed it.

I still don't understand what this thread is about. Tesla should not call their mass market car cheap and everyone agrees that they never have. What are we discussing?

tramline | 5 juillet 2014

yep...maybe somebody should screen these threads...

Red Sage ca us | 5 juillet 2014

Methinks I detect the presence of an expert in... [BOLSHOI], [BORSHT], [BOLSHEVIK], [BRAVO SIERRA], [HORSE HOCKEY], [BANTHA POO-DOO]...

estephens001 | 6 juillet 2014

Red Sage,

I do see clearly here what is produced when you think!

H. Eric Stephens

SamO | 6 juillet 2014


You will never be retained, hired or otherwise engaged by Tesla Motors to do any marketing. You barely make sense and although I didn't do so at first, I've flagged this post because it's so tediously stupid.

You don't understand how Tesla Motors works.

You don't understand their products.

You don't understand the loyalty that Elon Musk has engendered by creating a great product and by ACTUALLY providing good service.

Tesla owners (including myself) give test rides, talk incessantly and evangelize for Tesla. This is so much better than wordsmithing cheap v affordable.

Your thesis is useless at best and deluded at worst.

blue adept | 6 juillet 2014

I'll vote for exchanging the term "cheap" with the terms 'economical' and 'affordable'.

m.elsarha | 6 juillet 2014

I think that affordable is better.

estephens001 | 6 juillet 2014


I see I struck a nerve? I am impressed with your abilities. You seem to know what I do not know. You seem to make decisions for Tesla and company as to services they may or may not seek. You are as you state a loyal customer and I applaud you for that. Last I checked, this is America, I too have the right to speak and be equally as opinionated as you sir am I not? That said, I love your passion, never lose it.

H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert

Timo | 7 juillet 2014

How about "better than anything else in its price range"?

Because that's what it will be.

Red Sage ca us | 7 juillet 2014

Affordable, Attainable, Accessible, Economical, Frugal... All are better than, "Hey, look! This doesn't SUCK anywhere NEAR as much as I THOUGHT it would... for something so CHEAP!" You know what really good marketing is? Some people actually believe that gasoline and diesel fuel are 'cheap'.

Timo | 7 juillet 2014

RS, was that directed to me, or were you just venting?

Red Sage ca us | 7 juillet 2014

It was the unnamed OP. So, yeah... venting. ;-)

Rocky_H | 7 juillet 2014

@estephens, I think your point is good and is an insightful point about marketing if it were made in a vacuum, because yes, the word "cheap" has some negative connotations. What I and others have a problem with is you applying the concept with "what I would like to see take place at Tesla..." as if it's something Tesla is doing wrong and needs to change. The very first comment by Dramsey astutely asked you to point out where a Tesla official has EVER used the word "cheap" to refer to one of their vehicles. They don't. The phrase I always see used is "more affordable".

So the point itself is good, but that box is already checked because it's what Tesla already does.

holidayday | 7 juillet 2014

Can you post a link in reference to ANYWHERE that Tesla says "cheap" or refers to any future car as "cheap"?

I do not recall ever seeing Tesla classify any of their products this way.

SamO | 7 juillet 2014


I'm against marketing, in general, as it obfuscates rather than illuminates. Other than that, you are in a long list of "experts" that would like to tell grandma how to suck eggs.

I'm sure you will be able to suck best, but Tesla doesn't need your help selling cars.

estephens001 | 7 juillet 2014


No holidayday, What I am referring to were instances where individuals have been in conversations where the topic has been “cheaper vehicles” with regard to the manufacture and sale of what I call a “Future Less Expensive” Tesla. Comments were made where the term never was acknowledged or ignored; yet subsequent statements, questions, and answers were delivered. Listen, as I stated and have tried too the point of exhaustion, I am not speaking of anything that is surface. What I am getting at is this. If I am in the midst of a conversation, and people are speaking about how to make something “cheaper”; even if I never use the term or agree with the term, it can be said and construed that I was in the conversation. When my product is lumped into that conversation holidayday, then if I later object that others are now assuming that my product is one of those; I certainly can’t take a stand later, because I didn’t make the correction and thus separate my brand at the beginning.

H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert

holidayday | 8 juillet 2014

estphens: "people are speaking about how to make something “cheaper”;"

That is a valid point. People mis-use "cheaper" to mean "less expensive" when it can be interpreted as "lower quality".

Instead of thinking in your brain "Future Less Expensive" Tesla, try putting "Future More Affordable" Tesla in your brain, and sharing that with your friends. Gently correct them when you see them use the term "cheap" or "cheaper".

Although the Gen III probably WILL be "cheaper" than the Model S(because it'll be quite difficult to match the quality of the Model S at the price point Tesla is aiming at), it's better to think of it as "More Affordable" since you want people to perceive quality along with the price savings.

Rocky_H | 8 juillet 2014

"If I am in the midst of a conversation, and people are speaking about how to make something “cheaper”;"

OK, yes, that happens.

"even if I never use the term or agree with the term, it can be said and construed that I was in the conversation."

Well, that is THEIR mistake. If someone else says something and attributes it to you, that is FALSE. So for everything anyone around you says that you disagree with you think you have an OBLIGATION to always correct all of that?

"I certainly can’t take a stand later, because I didn’t make the correction and thus separate my brand at the beginning."

NO NO NO!!! Bullshit. Since when does truth and accuracy have an expiration date or statute of limitations? It is always OK to say, "No, I never said that." If someone wants to argue it with this scenario you proposed and respond, "But someone else said it, and you were standing there." that has no meaning and is irrelevant. I know that some people do make those kinds of wrong assumptions where they think someone agrees because they were supposedly "in" a conversation where something was said, but that is simply a wrong assumption, and people make them all of the time. That doesn't mean you are ever handcuffed from setting the record straight.

bigd | 8 juillet 2014

Rocky_H good points there.

estephens001 | 8 juillet 2014

All I have to say is this on the subject is this.Six months from now, or a year from now; when the press says, “Tesla released the new Tesla” EM for example; mark my words it will be the following.


Then let me see you stop that train! Let me see you dictate what the consumer market will think.
This is not about me or me telling my friends anything people. It is a simple exercise in steering the future marketplace into a company’s own preferred way of thinking.
Many times in life we have all heard, “Well, why didn’t you say something”! Often it is what we didn’t say, that leaves us speechless later on.
This is how catch phrases, market terms, advertising explosions are created or shall I say born. Simply place in the mind of the press what you wish the public to recognize at a later date; by steering the mindset of the interviewers and the press. It is called working the press where I come from, versus falling prey to them somewhere down the road.
Brain max, here people; no other way to explain the already lengthy explained.
Take care!

H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert

Rocky_H | 8 juillet 2014

I am marking your words. I really don't see the word "cheaper" used to refer to the Gen3 model, and I have never heard it from anyone actually from Tesla. They always say "more affordable". We won't have to stop that train, because it never started.

Rocky_H | 8 juillet 2014

Go ahead and put into Google Tesla "Model E". Most of the articles have been referring to it that way. I opened up the first several articles on it. Only one on used the word "cheaper". All of the others say things like "more affordable" "mainstream market" or "moderately priced". So yeah, there doesn't seem to be much here to have all the hand wringing about.

Grinnin'.VA | 9 juillet 2014

Sorry, but I'm not much concerned about others calling the Gen3 a "cheaper" Tesla. All I expect such denigration to do is slow down the rampup of sales a bit. And that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Tesla will have it's hands full going from 100,000 sales per year to 500,000. If that takes a year or so beyond when Tesla hopes to get there, I'd expect Tesla's growth to be a bit smoother.

In my mind, Tesla's bold decisions will prove wise in retrospect. All will be well. I expect to see Tesla sales to top 1,000,000 per year with a healthy profit and lots of growth in the value of my TSLA stock.

Never fear; Tesla is winning this war.

Ron :)

Brian H | 10 juillet 2014

Where's my shovel?

carlgo | 10 juillet 2014

"Giveaway" is not believable. "Dirt cheap" in not a good option. "A steal" has bad connotations. "Free" is unreasonable. "Affordable" is a bit snotty. "Found money" is not snotty enough. "Mass market" cheapens the image. "Easy" translates into EZ, like EZ Al's used car lot. "Entry level" at $45K is cause for a peasant rebellion.

The answer is the use of the word "Only". The New (always a good term) Tesla eFalcon is "Only $XXXX!"*

*When considering tax breaks, resale value, cost of gas and service.

Grinnin'.VA | 10 juillet 2014

carlgo Sounds about right to me. Ron (aka Grinin')

estephens001 | 10 juillet 2014

Well, I said 6 months, it took 6 days for another example. I was reading an article and they just had to throw the word "Cheaper" in because the article is Tesla heavy! One minute "Musk" is down; the next, "Tesla" is up! "Tesla" has the best EV but "automakers" are betting on "Fuel Cells". Once again, the writer loads the word "Cheaper" into the article in bold when in this context it has nothing to do with Musk, Tesla, or EVs at all! The article is from the insider July 10, 2014 on line version. I copied and will paste the text part only without photos for you to see. Take a look.

Here's The Technology Of The Future That Could Crush Elon Musk's Dreams
There's been a virtual civil war happening in the battle to create the next generation of motor vehicles. The battle is between plug-ins and fuel cells.

You may have heard more about about plug-ins thanks to Tesla, which has single handedly revived the market for a technology that was otherwise going nowhere. Tesla's foe — and indeed, that is how Elon Musk regards the technology — is fuel-cell vehicles, which run on hydrogen.

Fuel-cell vehicles have seen their own recent jolt thanks to more established automakers like Toyota, which just got a major boost from the Japanese government in the form of fuel-cell vehicle subsidies. At least three other major automakers plan to release FCVs in the near future.

Tesla is enjoying lots of momentum — its shares are up about 50% this year — and the company has embarked on an unprecedented capex odyssey to double the world's supply of lithium ion batteries and expand its charging networks. Can they really be derailed by fuel cells? Or could the two technologies even learn to get along someday?

Let's back up for a moment.

What are fuel cells?

Fuel cells take hydrogen and turn it into electricity. The most common way of doing this involves charging a special material, called a proton exchange membrane, to separate out the proton and electron from a hydrogen atom. The electron gets captured as electricity, then recombines with the proton and a supply of oxygen and comes out as water.
If you stack a bunch of these guys together, you get a fuel cell. Here's what it looks like in the inside of a car. There's only a motor in the front; the fuel cell is in the middle of the car.
Pros and cons

The principal advantage of fuel-cell vehicles is that you don't have to plug them in. Instead, you simply go to a fuel station and refill your car with hydrogen. Battery electrics, on the other hand, require you to leave your car at a charging station for hours (or a little more than an hour in the case of a Tesla). Environmentally, while neither generate direct emissions, creating the hydrogen, and the raw electricity for batteries, requires burning fossil fuels upstream at a power plant. So, neither is truly emission free.
However, there remain huge gaps in fuel cells' charging networks, while those for battery electric are much more widespread.
Here's the map for fuel cells:
And for battery-electric charging stations:
California battleground
Despite its Fremont digs, Tesla does not rule the California roost. The state plans to have 25 hydrogen fueling stations operating by fall of next year capable of handling 4,000 new vehicles. A new study says existing gasoline stations can safely store and dispense hydrogen, which could allow that figure to jump.
In fact, many hydrogen vehicles start out being only available in California. And because of how the state's complex emissions credit rules are calculated, hydrogen-powered vehicles earn more points for range and speed of refueling than do battery-electric cars, according to GreenCarReports. Indeed, the California Air Resources Board projected in 2012 that there would eventually be more fuel cells on the road than battery electrics:
carb ldv zev
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed an executive order calling for 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roadways by 2025. The state is actually one of eight states that together hope to put 3.3 million zero-emission. The program's incentives are fuel source-agnostic.

Getting cheaper ... at least automakers hope so

To date, most fuel-cell infrastructure has been directed toward power plants that run on hydrogen. A recent note from Navigant Research indicates more sectors are looking to fuel cells to provide sources of power independent of the grid in case of natural disasters. Fuel cells have also found their way into warehouses — Wal-Mart has been using fuel cells as cost- and labor-saving devices for its forklifts; they allow for lower refueling times.

Fuel cell automakers are hoping all this capacity spills over — Toyota, Ford, GM, and Hyundai all plan to roll out new FCVs. Adam Jonas says they don't have much choice: He sees their push as the result of failing to make a good enough plug-in electric. "We are not aware of any recent breakthrough in the field of hydrogen fuel cells," he wrote in a recent note. "What we are aware of, however, is a failure of most EVs to achieve their stated volume targets." He calls their doubling down on fuel cells, "a diversionary tactic to slow down, if not completely reset, a regulatory framework scripted to support mass adoption of EVs that don’t appear ready for prime time."
Read more:

Rob Wile

H. Eric Stephens
Marketing Expert
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Rocky_H | 11 juillet 2014

@estephens01, "Well, I said 6 months, it took 6 days for another example."

Sigh, no, there still have been no examples. You started this off with one of the things you would like to see take place AT TESLA. Tesla is not saying any of these things, and that is why a few of us have asked you to give an example EVER where a Tesla employee has used the word "cheap". You just gave an example of a writer of an article using the word "cheaper". What does that have to do with anything? I've seen people refer to Teslas as toys, pieces of junk, fiery death traps, a joke, a waste of money, etc. etc. Other people say all kinds of things, and Tesla has no control over that.

Rocky_H | 11 juillet 2014

I find this all kind of amazing that in your line of work as a marketing specialist, you don't see that they are two different things when other people saying something about a company's products versus a company talking about their own products. And then you think a company should be able to change how other people talk about their products.

Red Sage ca us | 11 juillet 2014

carlgo: +1 UP! on 'ONLY!' I rather like that Tesla Motors doesn't use the tried and true, "Ninety-nine, ninety-nine, ninety-nine, ninety-five!", pricing schemes on their website. I'm pretty sure it is done on purpose. ;-)