What a week it was for Tesla! Reaching all-time trading highs was certainly an achievement to celebrate. So, too, was the 2017 Q1 earnings report, in which Tesla excelled in deliveries versus same month, previous year. Teslarati gets the first scoop a Model 3 release candidate in the wild, with reports of new sensors being spotted. Tesla’s company practice of divulging individual driver data became a contested topic, as did the Utah Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit Tesla direct sales to customers. Here are those stories and more on our Teslarati Top 5 Week in Review.
Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) stock, which had previously traded at $280 in February, achieved its all-time high this week, up from the March 31, 2017 close of market mark of $291.74. Tesla’s performance pushed the company’s market capitalization past that of Ford for the first time ever. Ford’s market capitalization at about $44.8 billion stood just about $3 billion under Tesla’s. Next in line for Tesla is GM’s $51.4 billion market cap. Tesla sold only a fraction of Ford’s 6.7 million cars and GM’s 10 million cars in 2016; both offer investors the comfort of healthy balance sheets and steady profits. However, Tesla investors seem willing to hold out for the company’s future potential for still higher growth ahead. Historical malaise over missed delivery targets may be dissipating.
With Model S deliveries at 3,450 and Model X deliveries at 11,550, Tesla achieved a new quarterly record to start 2017. Selling just over 25,000 vehicles in Q1 represented a 69% increase over the same month, Q1 2016. Tesla argues that vehicle deliveries symbolize only one measure of the company’s financial performance; quarterly financial results, they say, depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of sales, foreign exchange movements, and mix of directly leased vehicles.
Up until Tuesday, the Model 3 was assumed to have eight cameras: three facing forwards, two in the B-pillar between the front and rear doors, two in the front fenders, and one in the rear by the hatch latch. (Radar and ultrasonic sensors will also provide the computer with contextual data.) The recent sighting indicates that two additional sensors are located by the C-pillars between the rear door and back. This is significant because Tesla CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly stated that the Model 3 design is meant to include autonomous driving. With a dashboard that lacks a speedometer on the driver’s side and, instead, will fade in and out of opacity on the central control screen, the Model 3 technology evolution will be fascinating. Its sensors and cameras will provide crucial data about the vehicle’s surroundings, bringing the future to today.
Tesla’s company policies about owner privacy has been under scrutiny this week, with accusations that it divulges drivers’ performance information in order to protect its self-driving car technology. Unlike other research institutions, Tesla does not acquire permission from its drivers, who are supplying data about self-driving technology system responses. Moreover, while the company has disseminated specific driver information to the media following crashes, it has refused thus far to share that same data with the drivers. Some accidents involving Tesla all-electric vehicles have involved the Tesla Autopilot system, but in 2016 the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cleared Tesla of any wrong-doing in a fatal crash in which Autopilot was engaged.
The Utah Supreme Court this week has upheld a previous ruling which prohibits Tesla and other automakers from selling directly to customers. Tesla contested Utah’s claim of manufacturers and dealer owners being one and the same, saying its direct sales to customers distinguish it from independent dealerships. In essence, the Utah Supreme Court justices chose not to address when Utah law does or does not block an automaker from direct sales.