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Why Tesla Will Stall in 2013

Based on the aggregated intelligence of 180,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) has received the dreaded one-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at Tesla and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

Tesla facts

Headquarters (founded)

Palo Alto, Calif. (2003)

Market Cap

$3.9 billion


Automobile manufacturers

Trailing-12-Month Revenue

$146.3 million


Co-Founder/Chairman/CEO Elon Musk
CFO Deepak Ahuja

Return on Capital (average, past 3 years)



$85.7 million / $474.5 million


General Motors (NYSE: GM  )
Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM  )

Sources: S&P Capital IQ and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 66% of the 29 members who have rated Tesla believe the stock will underperform the S&P 500 going forward.

Just last week, one of those Fools, All-Star TopAustrianFool, succinctly summed up the Tesla bear case for our community:

[Electric vehicle tech] has serious technical problems. With batteries costing 1/3 of the total cost of the car and the technology at an impasse I don't see [Tesla] going too far. The company doesn't have a record at all, and it is surviving on govt money from a govt that is going bankrupt. It's a matter of time before this pipe dream comes crashing taking unsuspecting investors with it.

Near-faultless execution has led Tesla Motors to the brink of success, but the road ahead remains a hard one. Despite progress, a looming question remains: Will Tesla be able to fend off its big-name competitors? The Motley Fool answers this question and more in our most in-depth Tesla research available for smart investors like you. Thousands have already claimed their own premium ticker coverage, and you can gain instant access to your own by clicking here now.

Want to see how well (or not so well) the stocks in this series are performing? Follow the TrackPoisedTo CAPS account.

Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2012, at 7:19 PM, gene132 wrote:

    Not surprised-even the great Henry J. Kaiser couldn't break into the auto industry-and he invested over $100 million ( the equivalent of over $1 billion today). The best hope for Tesla is that they get bought out by an established car firm.

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2012, at 9:10 PM, haid1 wrote:

    Of course its hard, but it has always been hard. Are the next 12 months more risky than the last 12? I don't think so.

    Put another way, would you have predicted 2012 MT car of the year, this time last year? So why is it so hard to see 20K cars shipped next year?

    It may not be Ford or GM scale, but who said that defines success?

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2012, at 9:22 PM, cottagetrees wrote:

    Not a very smart piece here. Where's the substantive fundamental analysis? No discussion of their recent accomplishments, deals to supply other automakers, cash flow positive, etc. I don't have a position, but it seems to me that the company is executing well, which means execution risk is declining.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 9:40 AM, sabertoothtiger2 wrote:

    If TopAustrianFool's ideological comment sums up the bear case, I'm buying more Tesla.

    What is making Tesla successful is their track record of making customers smile and open their wallets.

    Reservations for the Model S keep growing, and as more of them get on the road more people will start to understand the breakthrough Tesla has delivered. Plus, more models are on the drawing board.

    Tesla is a hard-charging company that is delivering.

    They also have a secret master plan, which can be found here:

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 10:16 AM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    What threatens Tesla is competition: They don't have the scale or footprint (or a really significant technological advantage) to go head to head with the major global automakers -- *if* those automakers choose to enter the premium-EV space. That's more likely to happen in 2013 than it was in 2012.

    To be clear, Tesla's execution so far has been excellent. But if Honda or Ford or Nissan or VW decides to eat Tesla's lunch... I don't see how Tesla can thrive. They might not be toast, but they won't be worth anything like $30 a share.

    John Rosevear

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 5:29 PM, andy8546 wrote:

    Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are both failures in terms of people buying those cars... Its actually below the both companies expectations.. With Tesla Model S at twice the price of Leaf or Volt, why would this be a success in mass market? It is really aimed at a small niche of people who are willing to spend $70-$80K in California, and when that market dies out, Tesla will start faltering. Every car i bought needs some kind of servicing in 6-12 months.. There are no servicing places outside of CA, so do you have to ship your car for servicing? Get real.. this company cannot compete with bigger giants and the bigger giants have products that are all electric which they can't sell..

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 12:20 AM, Wayoutfront wrote:

    In a decade people will ask "who killed the combustion motor?". The advantages that Tesla Motors have already proven such as 320 mile EV on a 30 minute charge in a car that out performs all others and use today's technology (touch screens, inverters, regen) instead of mechanical transmissions, combustion, water pumps, knobs/buttons). Imagine a car that will last 2-3 million miles instead of 200-300K. No noise, no pollution. Tesla may not survive, but Elon et al have proven the technology. In 10 years it will be gauche to drive a pure combustion auto.

  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2013, at 2:04 AM, leafnteslaowner wrote:

    I own a 2012 Nissan Leaf and have reserved a Tesla S and X. I love my Leaf. I also love not needing to fill up my gas tank, do not miss the 3000 miles oil changes or envy the loud mufflers and engine noise of ICE cars. With over 26k on the Leaf, I am sold on electric cars. I've saved over $400 per month on gas and pay only $40 more per month in electricity costs. The best thing is the pleasure of driving the Leaf. While it doesn't handle as well as my 911, I am very impressed by the acceleration and handling of such a small, relatively inexpensive all electric car. Who knows how TSLA will fare in the future, but I'm fairly confident that as long as I drive, I will drive something I love. Life is too short to settle for anything less.

  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2013, at 2:31 AM, leafnteslaowner wrote:


    TSLA is a premium brand. There's no shortage of people buying cars that cost $50k+ I predict TSLA is targeting BMW, Mercedes and Lexus owners. I am replacing an aging Lexus RX with the Tesla X. I am also replacing my Porsche 911 with the Tesla S. Cost is not the only issue for me. I want a gorgeous, fast and hopefully reliable car that transports my friends and family in comfort and style. The affluent can and will pay for luxuries and quality automobiles.

    By the way, the Leaf I've owned for nearly 18 months now have required 0 service. The only time I bring the car into the dealership is to get free charging. If you look under the hood of electric cars, you'll see that an electric car has fewer points of failure than ICE cars. If I do need service, a Tesla Ranger will come to me or I can take it to a nearby service center.

    Finally your claim that no one buys electric cars is not quite true. As of December 2012, the United States has the largest fleet of plug-in electric vehicles in the world, with around 75,000 highway-capable plug-in electric cars sold since 2010, of which, 17,800 units were delivered during 2011, and more than 53,000 during 2012. The market share of plug-in electric passenger cars nearly tripled, from 0.14% in 2011 to 0.37% of new car sales in 2012. So sales are growing as perceptions change, technologies improve, and range increases.

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