Investing in socially responsible stocks is a popular strategy today that aims to find companies with a balance between solid financial returns and social good. Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) fits this description to a T; it's hard to beat Tesla when it comes to investing in socially responsible companies. The California-based automotive company manufactures and sells zero-emissions cars, which cause less harm to the environment than gas-powered vehicles -- thereby making it a "socially responsible" company.
Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk, started the EV maker with one goal in mind: to help end the world's dependence on oil. Moreover, Musk says the "overarching purpose" of Tesla Motors is "to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy toward a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution." That is undoubtedly a noble and socially responsible cause. However, until recently, few thought Tesla's business plan would survive, let alone thrive.
From humble beginnings
Tesla has grown from an upstart automaker operating in the niche market of electric vehicles into one of the most admired and disruptive auto companies in the world today. Tesla's gas-free Model S sedan has achieved many milestones since first hitting the road in 2012, including a five-star safety rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Motor Trend's coveted Car of the Year award in 2013. Yet even with accolades piling up, Tesla Motors and its visionary CEO continue to aim higher.
Tesla generated record Model S deliveries in the second quarter of 7,579 vehicles and record production of 8,763 EVs in the period. That was a 16% increase over the same period a year ago. This led to a 55% increase in non-GAAP revenue of $858 million in the quarter.
On top of recent results, the company has so far delivered on its "Master Plan" to:
- Build an all-electric sports car (Tesla Roadster).
- Use that money to build an affordable car (Model S).
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car (Model X and eventually mass-market Gen III).
- While doing above, also provide zero-emission electric power generation options.
Not only has Tesla Motors followed through with its vision thus far, but it has done so while promoting sustainable energy on a global scale.
Combating misconceptions about EVs
One of the main arguments against electric vehicles as a sustainable solution is that they only transfer carbon emissions to the power plant, because EVs need power to operate. However, Tesla is aggressively expanding its Supercharger Stations in the U.S. and abroad to help EV drivers recharge their vehicles in record time. This is important because the Superchargers use grid electric power from solar panels to recharge the cars, thereby involving no CO2 emissions
Additionally, investors can rest easy knowing that Tesla isn't spending too much building out this Supercharger Network. Thanks to a strategic partnership with SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY.DL), Tesla is able to deploy Supercharger stations inexpensively. Not only is SolarCity helping to install these solar panels for the Supercharger network, but the system also returns more energy to the grid than it uses to charge people's cars -- sustainability at its best.
Tesla also teamed up with SolarCity to offer EV drivers the option of installing affordable solar panels at their homes. Once installed, the system is capable of generating more than 50 miles per day of electricity. As Musk explains, "If you travel less than 350 miles per week, you will therefore be 'energy positive' with respect to your personal transportation." This is just another way that Tesla and its partner in crime, SolarCity, are bringing sustainable energy solutions to the masses.
Tesla Motors' planned Gigafactory for producing lithium-ion batteries at scale is yet another important step in Tesla's mission to advance sustainable transportation. Making its massive battery factory both green and self-sustainable to some extent is a priority for Tesla. With Nevada selected as the site for its Gigafactory, Tesla plans to harness wind and solar power as well as other local renewables. Moreover, this makes sense because Nevada is home to the world's largest solar power plant.
By focusing on solving the world's dependence on gas, Tesla Motors has built a company that not only makes beautiful and powerful cars, but helps the environment as well. There is no denying that Tesla, albeit a risky stock, is one of the most exciting socially responsible investments available to long-term investors today. However, just because a company is socially responsible, it doesn't always translate into a winning investment. Moreover, investors should always take a deeper look at a company and weigh the risks before investing.