At a time when car manufacturers are building boxy-looking electric vehicles that have the sex appeal of a Rubix Cube with its stickers torn off, Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) makes sleek, lust-worthy, high-end speed demons.
The luxury electric car maker epitomizes a sexy stock with its David-versus-Goliath attitude and tech start-up management style. That’s not to mention the fact that the company’s at the cutting edge of an industry that just might revolutionize the way Americans travel.
Still, I keep teetering back and forth on whether or not I should buy into Tesla. It’s hard to believe the founder of PayPal could decide to take on monolithic heavyweights like General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F) and Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM) and actually get in a few punches. There are a raft of start ups to deal with, too (like Warren Buffet’s pick, BYD Auto).
And yet, Tesla seems to be doing everything right. Their designs are strikingly beautiful. Their partnerships have been designed to make them an integral part of the supply chain for larger companies, and they’re attracting capital from the same companies they’re supposed to be competing with. There just might be something to this stock, after all. Indeed, here are three reasons why I say Tesla’s a buy:
1) Innovative technology. Tesla’s batteries are actually groups of batteries. Rather than building one massive unit, they link together thousands of small lithium-ion batteries (much like laptop batteries) in every car. According to the Mercury News, this keeps their costs lower than the larger lithium batteries used in the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. Lower costs per car means more profits despite what might be a lower sales volume than their competitors will snag. Indeed, Tesla’s battery costs per kilowatt hour are estimated to be a quarter of the cost of equivalent power for the Leaf and the Volt.
2) Great management. Tesla’s co-founder Elon Musk nearly bankrupted himself trying to get Tesla’s first cars to the market. He’s got the proverbial “skin in the game,” and that means he’s going to do everything in his power to see the company succeed. This wouldn’t mean much if Musk didn’t have a track record for creating game-changing companies. He did just that in 1999 when he helped launch PayPal.com. PayPal was acquired by eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) for $1.5 billion just two years later.
3) Well-placed partnerships. You’d think Toyota wouldn’t want to give a penny to Tesla, but they’ve actually hired the company to produce the electric components for their upcoming RAV4 electric SUV. Tesla will generate some $60 million in revenue from the deal, and the company will be able to refine their manufacturing process as they turn out the batteries, motors and other components for the RAV4.
This has been part of Musk’s plan from the very start: if Tesla can become not just a manufacturer of EVs, but a electric powertrain supplier for some of the world’s biggest carmakers, it’ll have its fingers in a much larger piece of the pie, and I suspect that will pay off in the end.