Investor's Corner

‘Tesla Killer’ myth debunked by TSLA skeptic: Model 3 faces ‘no credible competition’ until 2020

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) seems to be in the process of recovering from Tuesday’s dive over reports of the US Department of Justice’s probe into Elon Musk’s “funding secured” tweet last month, but the company’s most ambitious vehicle — the Model 3 — continues to impress even longtime skeptics. In a recent note, Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein, who is known to be critical of Tesla in the past, stated that there is simply “no credible competition” for the Model 3 until 2020.

According to Sacconaghi, Bernstein has looked into the upcoming electric cars from several automakers set to arrive in the US within the coming years. In the case of the Model 3, the analyst pointed out that the vehicle would likely be unrivaled until 2020, when Volvo releases its all-electric Polestar 2 sedan.

“But let’s make this clear: there is no actual flood of competition coming. We tallied up every announced electric vehicle arriving in the U.S. between now and 2022, and the results were stark. The Model 3, which will account for 70% of Tesla’s revenues within two years, faces no credible competition whatsoever until 2020, or until Volvo AB  launches its all-electric Polestar 2 sedan,” the Bernstein analyst noted.

Sacconaghi’s note also stated that the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X would likely be unrivaled until 2020 as well, as the vehicles will only be facing two competitors, the Audi e-tron Quattro and the Jaguar- I-PACE. Ultimately, the analyst noted that instead of hampering Tesla, the release of electric cars from incumbent automakers would most probably “validate and expand the existing market for electric cars.” Sacconaghi further stated that even the Chevy Bolt, which was once perceived as a “Tesla Killer,” does not really rival the Model 3. 

“While matching the range and price point of the Model 3, the Bolt arguably remains a lower-end car, without the luxury nameplate, the styling, the performance, or even the electronics offered by Tesla. A side-by-side comparison in real life makes the contrast particularly stark – for one thing, the Bolt is a whole 20 inches shorter than the Model 3. GM has been relatively mum on its specific electric vehicle plans going forward, but we do not expect it to sell clear competitors to the Model 3 anytime within the next 3 years,” the analyst noted.

Toni Sacconaghi is hardly a Tesla enthusiast. Back in July, the analyst released a note expressing his reservations about the Model 3’s long-term profitability. Sacconaghi’s questions during Tesla’s Q1 2018 earnings call incited Elon Musk’s now-infamous outburst as well, with the CEO dubbing his inquiry as “boring” and “boneheaded.”

As other carmakers reveal their own entries into the all-electric market, Tesla’s experience in creating compelling EVs is starting to become evident. Thus, Sacconaghi is not alone in his observations. After Audi’s reveal of the e-tron, longtime Tesla skeptic Patrick Hummel from UBS Group AG — the same group which alleged that the $35,000 base Model 3 would not be profitable — admitted that the performance and specs of rival vehicles from veteran carmakers like Mercedes-Benz and Audi shows that Tesla would likely maintain its lead in the premium electric car market for a bit longer.

Since its steep dive on Tuesday, Tesla stock is starting a seemingly steady trek back up. As of writing, Tesla stock is trading up 1.63% at $289.61 per share.

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.

‘Tesla Killer’ myth debunked by TSLA skeptic: Model 3 faces ‘no credible competition’ until 2020
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