Those who follow Tesla in the news face an ongoing barraging of misleading information in the mainstream media about the company and its competition. One of the most prominent myths lately is that Tesla faces a demand problem. This is absurd.
This just reared its ugly head yet again with yesterday’s Washington Post article. Another in a long line of hit pieces on Tesla, this one repeated the nonsense that Tesla suffers from demand problems: “demand from Chinese and European consumers hasn’t materialized as planned.”
Meanwhile author Faiz Siddiqui trumpets the “well-reviewed” electric SUVs from Jaguar and Audi, as well as “mass market” EVs like the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf. Siddiqui failed to notice the stunning lack of demand for these cars.
I was curious to see how they’re doing, and started by checking with my nearest Jaguar dealer, which is in Fort Lauderdale.
They have an inventory of 26 I-Pace vehicles. That’s in just one dealership. There’s another 15 sitting in Palm Beach and more in Miami, Naples, Fort Myers, Orlando and so on, all within 200 miles of West Boca.
By comparison, I looked on the Tesla website to check Model X inventory. There are exactly ZERO vehicles in inventory within 200 miles of my home zip code.
Tesla sold 1375 of the Model X in May. That’s more than Jaguar sold of the I-Pace so far this year (data from InsideEVs). Jaguar has so many I-Paces in inventory it suggests they can’t sell them.
I also checked the Chevy Bolt. We have a Chevy dealership only a few miles from our house. It’s not pretty.
They’re offering massive discounts on the Bolt. Why? Because no one is buying them. The Nissan Leaf is such a dud our local dealership in Coral Springs doesn’t appear to be selling them. I can’t find it on their website.
The real demand story in the electric vehicle market is that EVs from other brands do face a demand problem.
We’ve written about Tesla before and the coming transportation revolution. The EVs from most car companies are well behind Tesla on the technological front, especially when it comes to self-driving features, but also on performance, range, and more.
Siddiqui also writes:
Tesla’s competition will accelerate as automakers including Volkswagen, Porsche, BMW, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz begin to unveil their premium electric vehicles in coming months, buoyed by the known quantity of their brands, existing manufacturing expertise and huge dealership networks.
Starting with the Volkswagen brand is odd after the huge hit the brand took from their diesel scandal. Porsche does not have a “huge dealership network” with fewer than 190 dealers in the US. It’s far from clear why a dealership network is a plus in the modern world. Tesla’s network of over 1500 charging stations is far more important for those buying electric cars.
The vaunted manufacturing expertise of these companies is focused on internal combustion engines. Tesla has far more expertise with electric vehicles.
Getting back to demand, Tesla has sold 57,000 cars in the US through May, more than twice as many cars as Porsche’s 25,000 and also more than Volvo’s 40,000. Globally Tesla sold more cars than either Porsche or Jaguar in the first quarter of 2019. The Model 3 is easily outselling gas powered competitors from BMW, Mercedes and others, and the second quarter is projected to be far bigger for Tesla than the first quarter.
The biggest hurdle for Tesla is battery production as Elon Musk himself recently noted. They’re working on it and it sounds like they’re making progress. This is also a problem for other car companies trying to make electric vehicles. They have to get batteries too, and unlike Tesla they don’t make their own. Oddly the media rarely talks about how difficult and expensive it is for other companies to get batteries for their EVs.
Most likely the media will continue to attack Tesla and spread FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt. But EV buyers have already figured them out, and investors won’t be far behind.
Disclosure: The author owns stock directly in Tesla and Honda, and effectively in most car companies through equity mutual funds. He also owns a VW sedan.