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Tesla on Top, Now Most Valuable U.S. Automaker

"It's one of the strangest things I have ever seen."

by on Apr.10, 2017

Tesla CEO Musk can now afford a shirt with sleeves, as his stock soars to a new record.

Tesla is the new king-of-the-hill, after a week giving chase to long-time industry leader General Motors, the Silicon Valley upstart wound up narrowly squeaking into the lead, a nearly $51 billion market capitalization running just ahead of GM’s as trading on the New York Stock Exchange closed Monday afternoon.

Tesla had seemed poised for more than a week to take the lead, having already nudged past Ford Motor Co. earlier in the month. But Monday brought the Wall Street equivalent of a close horse race, GM and Tesla trading the lead almost by the hour. Finally, as the bell range, the EV maker had a closing stock price of $312.39, a $9.85 gain for the day, leaving it valued at $50.95 billion, while GM closed up $0.26 a share, at $33.97, with a market cap of $50.89 billion.

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The surge in Tesla’s market performance comes at a critical time for the Silicon Valley automaker, which little more than a month ago had warned its finances were “on the edge” as it continued its costly investment in the launch of the new Model 3. The midsize electric vehicle, Tesla’s first priced by the mainstream, is set to go into production in July.

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Tesla Sets Q1 Production, Sales Records

Despite analysts' caution, investors continuing driving up shares.

by on Apr.03, 2017

Tesla has been launching non-traditional showrooms and displays, like this one at a Nordstrom's.

Tesla got a jump on the rest of the auto industry, reporting late Sunday that it set new production and delivery records for the first quarter of the year.

That comes as particular good news for the Silicon Valley manufacturer of electric vehicles, Tesla stretching its finances as it prepares for the launch of the all-new Model 3 sedan later this year. Sales had slumped during the final quarter of 2017 due to a mix of production snags, including the shift to a new version of the maker’s Autopilot system.

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Tesla was forced to return to Wall Street late in the January-March quarter, raising about $1.4 billion in a new stock offering. Investors responded positively, despite CEO Elon Musk’s warning that the maker’s finances were “getting very close to the edge.”

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Will the Tesla Model 3 Be the Safest Car Ever?

New battery-sedan could prevent 90% of accidents, says analyst.

by on Mar.24, 2017

Tesla promises to launch Model 3 production in July, with retail sales following later in 2017,

Tesla has promised that its upcoming Model 3 will be loaded with a variety of high-tech features, including the latest version of the maker’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system. And now, automotive analysts from Morgan Stanley are predicting the sedan will be the safest car ever made.

With “a supercomputer in every car,” they estimate in a new report that the new Model 3 will be 10 times safer than existing vehicles – or 90% less likely to be the cause of either vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-pedestrian fatal crashes. But that actually could disrupt both the conventional new and used car markets, Morgan Stanley is forecasting.

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“Look for an acceleration of the market’s awareness of the obsolescence of used cars and an acceleration of insurance company awareness to reprice premiums,” the report suggests.

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Despite Ongoing Quality Issues, Tesla Owners Bond with Their Cars

“Owners see themselves as pioneers.”

by on Mar.21, 2017

Despite endemic quality problems, Power finds strong emotional attachment to Tesla products.

Tesla owners could be accused of having a love/hate relationship with their vehicles. The maker’s Models S and X have repeatedly been slammed for serious quality issues, yet owners retain a strong emotional bond to those battery-electric vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

But the question is whether those buying the next generation of Tesla products, starting with the Model 3 sedan set to go into production in July, will be nearly as forgiving. Moving into the mainstream carries significant risks, according to various analysts.

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“Tesla owners see themselves as pioneers who enjoy being early adopters of new technology,” said Kathleen Rizk, director of global automotive consulting at J.D. Power. “Spending $100,000 or more on a vehicle that has so many problems usually would have a dramatically negative effect on sales and brand perception. Right now, though, Tesla seems immune from such disenchanted customers.”

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Wall Street Throws Tesla a Lifeline

Stock offering does better than expected.

by on Mar.17, 2017

Tesla needed cash to ensure the Model 3 launch.

Despite growing concerns among industry analysts, investors haven’t given up on Tesla. Anything but.

Wall Street came up with another $1.2 billion in capital for the Silicon Valley battery-carmaker this week as it went back for an infusion aimed at helping complete development of the critical new Model 3 SUV set to go into production in July. And it’s possible the figure could climb to $1.4 billion.

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The latest stock offering went off barely a year after Tesla’s previous turn to the market, and was meant to “reduce any risks associated with the rapid scaling of (our) business due to the launch of Model 3, as well as for general corporate purposes,” the company said. It also came just weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned that the maker’s finances were “getting very close to the edge.”

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Forget the Freeway, Tesla’s Musk Now Aims for the Moon

His SpaceX set to send two “tourists” into lunar orbit.

by on Feb.28, 2017

If all goes according to plan, two paid "tourists" will get to see this view for the first time since the Apollo mission ended in 1972.

Elon Musk has long been shooting for the moon, and now he wants to do it quite literally. The founder of both Tesla, the electric vehicle maker, as well as rocket launch company SpaceX, says he intends to send two “tourists” on a week-long trip to orbit the moon a little more than a year from now.

They’d ride in a modified version of the Dragon spacecraft that SpaceX is planning to use to begin ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station as early as 2018, allowing NASA to stop relying on the Russians to get there. According to Musk, there are already two paying customers who have plunked down a “significant deposit” for the lunar mission.

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“Next year is going to be the big year for carrying people,” Musk said during a news conference. “This should be a really exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again.”

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Tesla Updates Autopilot – But Faces Federal Lawsuit

Owner claims Model X experienced unintended acceleration.

by on Jan.03, 2017

Tesla was sued last week by a Model X owner who claimed the vehicle suddenly lurched forward running into a garage wall and into the house.

Thousands of Tesla owners have gotten a surprise, post-holiday gift from Tesla Motors, the battery-carmaker issuing a major, over-the-air update for its Autopilot system that significantly enhances the car’s semi-autonomous capabilities.

The move happened as Tesla comes under scrutiny for alleged problems with earlier versions of Autopilot linked to at least one fatal crash and several other accidents. Separately, the carmaker was sued in federal court on Friday by an owner who claimed his Model X unexpectedly surged out of control, smashing through the wall of his garage and into his living room.

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The latest Autopilot update – dubbed HW2, or Hardware 2 – is likely to disappoint some owners. It will only work on Tesla Model X SUVs and Model S sedans built after October 2016. That’s when Tesla began updating the vehicles with an array of new radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors – but minus the cameras the cars were equipped with previously. (more…)

Tesla Will Now Charge to Supercharge

Maker also announced purchase of German engineering firm to help boost production capacity.

by on Nov.08, 2016

A Tesla Supercharger station in Hawthorn, CA.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or free energy, it seems. Tesla Motors plans to stop offering unlimited use of its cross-continent network of high-speed Superchargers to anyone who buys one of its vehicles after January 1, 2017.

The system, which currently includes 734 chargers worldwide, most in the U.S. and Canada, allows motorists to travel long distances without range anxiety. Until now, they have been open to any Tesla owner at no charge. The battery-carmaker hasn’t said what it will now charge new buyers but claims it will “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”

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Tesla had already signaled it would not include free charging for buyers of the Model 3, which is expected to go into production during the second half of 2017. The company says it now has more than 300,000 advance registrations on the books. And to help ensure it meets the aggressive production ramp-up outlined by CEO Elon Musk last March, Tesla is now buying Grohmann Engineering, a German firm that develops automated manufacturing systems for batteries.

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Tesla Delivers Unexpected Profit

Shares surge, though not everyone is convinced.

by on Oct.26, 2016

Tesla overcame quality problems enough to boost production and crawl into the black during Q3.

Long struggling in the red, Tesla Motors delivered a surprise profit, the maker delivering more cars than expected for the third quarter, after a shortfall during the first half of the year.

The black ink, a total of $22 million, or $0.14 a share, was a much-needed boost for a carmaker struggling to launch its first mainstream product next year. The announcement came just days after Tesla took a sharp hit from influential Consumer Reports magazine, which declared the California carmaker suffers from serious quality and reliability issues.

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The black ink sent shares of Tesla soaring after months of weak performance to $211.83 a share. But not all observers were convinced the company had achieved a long-sought breakthrough.

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More Trouble for Tesla: Consumer Reports Trashes Reliability

Model X rated “sixth least reliable vehicle” in latest owner study.

by on Oct.25, 2016

Tesla's Model X has had a series of major quality problems, especially with the falcon doors.

Already facing growing concerns about quality issues with its newest electric vehicle, the Model X SUV, Tesla Motors was hammered by influential Consumer Reports magazine this week, the non-profit publication ranking the California carmaker 25th of 29 brands in its annual automotive reliability study.

It wasn’t all bad news. After faring poorly in the 2015 auto survey, CR said the Tesla Model S actually had “improved reliability.” But the newer Model X “has a long way to go,” with a variety of issues including balky falcon wing doors, locks, latches and other systems.

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The Model X is “the sixth least reliable vehicle in our survey, and there are some monumental challenges with that vehicle,” Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing, said during an appearance before the Detroit Automotive Press Association. “It’s unclear,” he added, “whether they will get the ‘falcon wing’ doors right ever.”

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