You know you’re getting somewhere when General Motors takes a dangerous interest in what’s under your hood—that’s likely the general sentiment floating around Tesla Motors these days, as GM seeks to pick apart a small company that in different times it would have shrugged off as inconsequential.
Now look what’s happening. This year, Tesla’s stock is up 400% and it seems to be threatening to lure American drivers away from the traditional power houses with a sense of suave progress. In mid-2010, with its initial public offering, Tesla shares were trading at under $20. Today, we’re looking about over $180 per share, and a market capitalization of about $22 billion.
The threat is emanating from Tesla’s Model S electric vehicle, which has a range of up to 265 miles on a single charge. By comparison, GM’s Chevrolet Volt has a range of about 50 miles before it needs a recharge, though it’s working on a new version that promises a 200-mile range.
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GM sells about 9 million cars globally every year. Tesla has only sold 11,000 Model S cars as of the end of August this year—for about $70,000 at the low end and upwards of $100,000 at the high end.
Looking at the figures, one wonders why GM is so concerned about Tesla—concerned enough, according to Reuters, to order a special internal task force study into Tesla’s Model S to determine what the automotive giant might be missing.
The concern is in the bubble that just doesn’t seem capable of bursting, and GM is looking at a different set of figures: its market value has risen only 25% this year, compared to Tesla’s 470%. If this keeps up, Tesla could be the new GM—so the theory goes.
What GM will be looking at specifically is Tesla’s cheap battery pack, its long range and its innovative plans to provide free electricity to consumers through its own network of EV charging stations.
With all of this in mind, GM might find some small amount of relief in the news that Tesla’s stock dropped 6% Wednesday following a negative analyst report and a crash in one of its Model S sedans.
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All it took was the posting of a video of a Model S on fire near Seattle, Washington. The vehicle collided with a large metallic object in the middle of the road and caught on fire after the driver had exited. The fire in the battery pack was contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle, according to Tesla.
That said the incident isn’t likely to burst any bubbles. Tesla’s Model S has recorded outstanding performance in government crash tests, and continues to get rave reviews in key consumer magazines.
In the end, some analysts believe that GM—and indeed Detroit--does indeed have something to learn from the likes of Tesla.
"Tesla could teach GM how to 'small' a problem rather than 'big' a problem," Reuters quoted Matthew Stover, auto analyst for Guggenheim Securities, as saying. "They've done that well — solve problems quickly with a small group of people."
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com