I've been watching Tesla Motors for a few years, back when the Roadster was only a prototype. I've chatted online with Martin Eberhard and a few other early employees, and I watched with some dismay when many of them were forced out of the company. I've watched as they took less than ideal available components, improved them, and made them into the fastest production electric vehicle ever built. I've watched the company repeatedly do what detractors said couldn't be done. I've watched as major automakers stood up and took notice of what this little company had achieved. I stayed away from the IPO, stayed away when the price came back down after the euphoria, stayed away when it ran back up, and stayed away after it dropped back down after the 6 month lockup ended. I was hoping for a larger pullback but it never materialized. After all this time I can no longer ignore the potential of this company and what I think they are capable of, so I'm in. To me their biggest weakness has been their use of commodity cells to build a pack, yet by using them they've built the least expensive and most energy dense automotive pack on the market, and they will soon be using even better cells. Since the weakest part of their technology has proven successful and it's likely to get even better it's hard not to have a positive outlook on the company. The employees are skilled, passionate, and driven, as is Elon Musk. While I did not like his handling of the restructuring of the company and some of his design decisions I can't say that he was necessarily wrong. He obviously has what it takes to make innovative companies successful and I think betting against him is a mistake. The Model S sedan design is progressing well and looks to be as ground breaking in the performance sedan market as the Roadster was in the sports car market. Recent agreements with Panasonic should give them good pricing on improved cells. Partnering with Toxco and Umicore will provide a comprehensive recycling program for their battery packs when needed.
They continue to advance motor and controller design, battery technology, and vehicle design and construction. While some concern has been raised about rare earth magnets their motor doesn't use them. At 70lbs, 250hp, and 300 ft/lbs of torque they have the best power to weight ratio of any production EV motor. Their methods and results are actually influencing established automakers such as Toyota, who has partnered with Tesla for their RAV4EV program.
Tesla doesn't want to just build EV's, they want to build desirable vehicles that also happen to be EV's. Unlike most companies who try to keep costs as low as possible and target the general buying public Tesla has chosen to build vehicles without compromises that take full advantage of the benefits of their electric drive trains. A common complaint against Tesla is the average person can't afford their vehicles, which is true, for now. However, does BMW, Porsche, or Ferrari get hit with similar criticisms? Sure we all wish we could afford such vehicles but we don't argue that they should lower their quality or performance to achieve lower costs. Tesla creates products that compete directly with high end vehicles while also offering oil free transportation. They think, and I agree, that there is a strong and growing market for such products. The larger volume of the Model S production building on their experiences with the Roadster production will help them lower costs and move them towards profitability.
EV's are coming. Tesla has led the way with the first real production EV in the 21st century, and I don't see them losing that lead any time soon. They won't lead in volume but they will lead in technology that other auto manufacturers want and in producing vehicles that people want. Going forward I don't see anything stopping them.