Tesla Model 3's huge pre-orders burn as Elon Musk fiddles

After Model S and X, Tesla effectively crowdfunds the 3 development. But Elon Musk should beware the ides of April (and remember he's not really Tony Stark).

Tesla Model S 3 X Elon Musk
Credit: Paramount / Marvel

After the dust settled on the Tesla Model 3 jamboree, preorder deposits approached $300 million, topping up Elon Musk's capex war-chest. His new electric car's reviews are insanely great, but some commentators are wondering if it's really an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

Despite what you might call the highest-value crowdfunding campaign ever, the future is full of unknowns. And when will the release date be? Musk says "late 2017" for the west coast, but his history of sticking to plans ain't all that.

As one Tesla-driving source said, after viewing the streamed bash: "Musk looked like he had his fingers crossed behind his back." In IT Blogwatch, bloggers get all charged up. [Developing story: Updated 12:05 am PT with more comment]

curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, dum-dum-dum the night

What's the craic? Fred Lambert does the math—Tesla is going to “rethink” Model 3 production planning:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed [it] has now over 232,000 reservations. ... Around 100,000 people reserved the car with a $1,000 refundable deposit before even seeing [it].

At [the] estimated production rate of ~80,000 cars per year, it would take...3 years to get through this backlog. ... Tesla wrote that it should start...production in late-2017 and ramp up to ~500,000 units by 2020.

Two hundred and whatnow? Giles Parkinson concludes Musk just killed the petrol car:

By nightfall on Saturday, that order tally had jumped. ... That’s more than $US280 million in zero-cost capital. [It's] the fastest growing customer order book in the history of the automobile.

There could have been no greater demonstration of the latent demand for electric vehicles than [this]. The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered.

VW...and other car makers [plan] to throw all their efforts into electric vehicles. ... China and other countries are trying to kick petrol and diesel cars off the road. ... India’s roads minister...was quoted as [wanting] all cars to be electric by 2030. Norway...by 2025, and the Netherlands...will ban sales of new petrol cars from that date. ... Saudi Arabia said it is planning to establish a $US2 trillion sovereign wealth fund...in preparation for a world beyond oil.

Tesla has also managed to up-end the whole concept of networks and dealerships. ... And this is where it gets interesting.

When Musk began building his Roadsters eight years ago, EVs were seen as...for the golf course and the DIY community. ... Now it has pre-orders of 100 time that sports car’s entire production.

What do the industry experts think? Zachary Shahan reports Elon Musk is Gangsta (although his headline editor didn't approve)

Concerns...must be flowing in the board rooms of GM, Audi, BMW, etc. ... The landscape display on this prototype...replaces the dash display completely. [It] doesn’t tilt toward the driver like in a...Model S either. ... This is a strong lean-in to fully autonomous driving.

The Model 3 is surprisingly spacious in the front and back seats. ... The steering wheel, also, is different from the norm, in more of a “kidney bean shape.” ... In the end, the story is: Elon Musk is gangsta.

But Peter Kaye thinks Tesla's stock price is ludicrously high. So What Is It Really Worth?:

Tesla is a fantastic company. [But] on no metric, no matter how you slice and dice it, does...the valuation...make sense.

We love the car. ... What we continue to not love is Tesla's valuation and the assumptions implicit. ... These assumptions aren't realistic. At all.

The key issue for Tesla is how cheaply it gets to scale. ... Building out production capacity for 3.3 million cars [and its] supercharger network [will cost] billions of dollars in production capacity and subsequent maintenance. ... Any capex weighs on free cash flow.

BMW is on the cusp of making its entire lineup electric. Mercedes is set to launch four EV's by 2018. ... The Model 3 [is] the Model 3 of...2018. Comparing it to the current offerings from competitors gives you a false sense. ... By the time you actually get the car, Tesla's competitors will have something just as good. ... Extreme competition...will emerge.

The current [$235] stock price bakes in sky high expectations, and there's nothing to give you upside. [Our value] estimate [is] $15 billion, take off...$1.72 billion of net debt and you get...$11.28 billion...or about $100/share.

Update: What we neeed now is a cross-cultural food metaphor. Trip Chowdhry obliges:

Tesla has set a formidable world record...of booking orders of more than $11.6 Billion within the first 72 hours. [The GM] Bolt is DoD (Dead-on-Departure), and General Motors should just cancel [it]. It’s An Ugly Tiffin Box.

The digitally centered consumer is sick and tired of General Motors, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota etc...who have shown zero innovation and have been producing “Ugly Tiffin Boxes” for decades. [The] Model 3 has been designed for the iPhone generation consumer, whose lives are digitally super-centered.

And Finally…

The worst highwayman ever
[Warning: Lupins can be toxic if eaten]

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Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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