• Jan 30th 2010 at 12:19PM
  • 30
Tesla Roadster – Click above for high-res image gallery

You read that right. Tesla Motors will stop building the Roadster in 2011.

Wired's Autopia was digging through the papers filed by Tesla to the Securities and Exchange Commission for its IPO and came across with this nugget:
"We do not plan to sell our current generation Tesla Roadster after 2011 due to planned tooling changes at a supplier for the Tesla Roadster."
As everyone's aware, the current iteration of the Tesla Roadster is built in Hethel, England by Lotus using Elise/Exige underpinnings. Judging by the quote above, that means the Elise/Exige is due to be replaced by a new model (good news for enthusiasts), but that leaves Tesla up a creek without the proverbial paddle.

The other telling line is this:
"As a result, we anticipate that we may generate limited, if any, revenue from selling electric vehicles after 2011 until the launch of the planned model S..."
The Model S is due to come out in 2012, which means Tesla might not have any revenue coming in until the all-electric sedan goes on sale. If there's a snag with anything in the launch of the sedan – design, production, engineering, you name it – then Tesla's in serious trouble. That might make investors wary when the upstart automaker finally begins offering shares.

So, bottom line: If you want the current Roadster, order now, or wait until the all-new Roadster goes on sale in 2013.

[Source: Autopia]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Furthermore, Tesla was profitable since early last summer just selling the Roadster. The purchase price of the Roadster was higher before it started production than when it actually started rolling off the line at the end of 2008.

      Additionally, the deadline for applying for the DOE loan was two years ago. They were approved, along with Ford and Nissan, early last year. It is certainly possible that knowledge of this was not known by Tesla when they applied or when the loan was approved.

      There is a limited edition Model S that is being produced first - the reservation is $40,000 and the final price is not yet determined - they could jack up that amount, since it's never been advertised.

      I'm sure that the regular Model S will come out as advertised. It would be too big of a blow to the reputation of the company to sell the Model S at a higher amount than currently advertised, not to mention potentially reduced sales.
      • 8 Months Ago
      "The Model S is due to come out in 2012, which means Tesla might not have any revenue coming in until the all-electric sedan goes on sale. If there's a snag with anything in the launch of the sedan – design, production, engineering, you name it – then Tesla's in serious trouble. That might make investors wary when the upstart automaker finally begins offering shares."

      They do have the deal with Daimler that could provide some income during that period.
      • 8 Months Ago
      How about you make an AFFORDABLE electric vehicle.
        • 8 Months Ago
        There are many more people that can afford a $50,000 vehicle then
        ones that can afford a $100,000+ vehicle. Sure, your average American
        can't afford a $50,000 vehicle but it's still a step in the right

        If you look at the Volt, it's probably going to cost around $35k-$40k
        after a tax credit. That isn't really affordable for your average
        Chevy customer, or average American, either. Not to mention you're
        still going to have to pay for ICE maintenance in the Volt.

        Assuming the Model S comes off the production line in late 2011 then
        Tesla should have an affordable (≤$30,000) "family" car by ~2015. If it arrives sooner that would be excellent.
        • 8 Months Ago
        • 8 Months Ago
        isn't that the entire point of this? they're changing production lines. it's hard to make an affordable vehicle when every one of them is essentially hand-built.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Tesla clearly doesn't mind canceling the Roadster. If they wanted to continue selling them, they would just place a large order for the rolling chassis and "stock up." It's not like they're not going to sell a single one if it's not pre-ordered, why not hedge their bets?
      • 8 Months Ago
      wouldn't that be an obvious opportunity to take over production of whatever parts lotus will stop making? or have someone else copy the parts..

      seems a little odd to be a defunct car maker for a year or more. especially since the model S might well fail to sell 10k a year at 80k$ and no range extender. yes I said 80. it's beause I know musk

      and yes they should make affordable cars. they should make the GM ultralite
        • 8 Months Ago
        I see what you mean but I think you assume an extent of the loss and I'm not sure that's justified. Unless you have intimite knowledge of their operation. if we are talking about the loss of an assembly line and not the parts then I think they could take over that operation without huge difficulty. they don't make 100000 cars per year. more like 500.
        and it might be possible to hand it over to someone like Valmet in finland.
        if for instance lotus is willing to continue to make the chassis which is custom to the tesla then the rest might well be quite doable. I think tesla themselves have negotiated many parts contracts anyway.
        and if they're going to make a new roadster why not combine the two. for all the revolution it represents it can easily be done better. it only did 1 of 3 things right, the drivetrain. it failed on aerodynamics and weight. it should weigh half and have half the drag and then it only takes half the batteries and half the power. and with the newer high density cells the pack will only weigh 40%
        so come to think of it I'd use the opportunity to make a new one instead. and build it inhouse. lotus is expensive anyway and that transport can't be cheap. with that big funding I think it was a mistake to out source it in the first place.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Everyone here seems to having problems reading the filing, which says:
        "due to planned tooling changes at a supplier for the Tesla Roadster."

        According to Tesla's own blog http://www.teslamotors.com/blog5/?p=60 , Lotus installs "everything but the battery and powertrain" (including the Roadster's carbon fiber panels) onto a variation of the Elise frame in England *on the same assembly line*. So if the "planned tooling changes" refer to a new Elise (which has been in production since 1995) it would not be practical for Lotus to continue assembling Roadster gliders.

        So your idea "an obvious opportunity to take over production of whatever parts lotus will stop making" represents an enormous amount of work and complexity. Tesla would have to license and build the Elise frame design, negotiate with all the suppliers, and set up their own assembly line. All while trying to do the same work for a more complex car, their Model S.

        I assume Tesla will try to forecast demand to make the right kinds, colors, and numbers of Roadsters for 2012 before Lotus shuts down assembly, but it's a risky business.
      • 8 Months Ago
      ISTR reading somewhere that the Lotus Evora was going to be the next gen platform to be made available to manufacturers like Tesla. Seems to me maybe Tesla is wise to focus on getting the more practical model out the door before devoting a lot of resources to the next-gen roadster.
      • 8 Months Ago
      >Does anyone here really believe that this was an unforeseen issue?


      I don't think this has been represented as an "unforeseen issue."

      Coincidentally, I was just reading an old BizWk article (11/3/08) about Tesla's cost cutting back then that said:

      " . . . Tesla will need further-reaching structural changes. For example, it gets car bodies and chassis from British sports care builder Lotus, builds electric motors in Taiwan, [etc.] . . . the cost per car is "scary," says Musk. He would consider shifting everything to the U.S., but he can't move body production there until 2010, when the Lotus contract expires."

      So it appears to me that a change in body/chassis suppliers for the Roadster was part of a long term plan to reduce costs.

      It would be unfortunate if Tesla has no cars to sell for part or all of 2012, but given the profound economic situation of the past 18 months, the collapse of car sales in the US last year, volatile fuel prices (which affects the viability of creating a market for electric vehicles), and the resulting investment uncertainty, I'm not surprised there might be a gap in production for a small specialty car company like Tesla. Besides, as someone else mentioned here, SEC filings often purposely present worst case scenarios.

      I'm glad Tesla received some help from the government. It's part of a necessary investment to be competitive in the world market. The Chinese intend to leap frog us in electric vehicle technology and they heavily subsidize their industry. They've implemented aggressive plans to increase domestic annual production of hybrid and electric vehicles from 2,100 vehicles in 2008 to 500,000 by the end of 2011.

      See "China Vies to Be World’s Leader in Electric Cars":

      • 8 Months Ago
      Tesla was profitable before they started serious work on the Model S. If Roadster sales are any indication, the Model S, being much more practical than a roadster and half the price, will sell like wildfire. Tesla will have no problem returning to profitability by the end of 2012.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I think they ran out of buyers.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Even if they could continue production, they probably couldn't continue sales. Just how big do you think the market is for a $100,000 electric two-seater? By 2011, everyone who wants one will have one, and some Roadsters will be in the used market.

      Also, Tesla is not GM. They do not have billions of dollars of quarterly operating expenses. And the vast majority of their production is subcontracted, so when production ends, so does the production overhead.

      I'm sure they have a cashflow plan that gets them through the introduction and first sales of the Model S with financials that will support a good stock price, or they wouldn't attempt IPO.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wish they could build an EV1 copy.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I don't. EV1 was good for its time, but their work with the laptop cells in the roadster has proven to be much more dense in energy and much more viable for an every day commuter car for the average american.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Unless they're still losing money on every Roadster sold, this makes no sense whatsoever. They are moving to a new facility so they don't need to take the current one offline to re-tool.

      Sounds like cash flow problems.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Well, the end of 2011 still gives them time to produce and sell at least 2,000 more Roadsters, perhaps more if demand kicks up a bit. Either way, the limited supply and historic provenance assures owners that they will retain value as a collectible car.

        It isn't unusual to discontinue a model when new models are ready. The big question is what if anything replaces it. They could produce a model based on a new Lotus design, or, more likely, they could design and produce an all new EV sports car if their factory is up and running in time.

        If sales of the Roadster flattens out, they might decide to concentrate on the Model S and perhaps even launch their 3rd cheaper model before introducing a new EV sportscar model.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I spent most of my career in big companies that were always trying to spin whatever move they made with some kind of press release. I'm not picking on Elon this particular time, just trying to figure out if it's spin or reality.

        I don't agree with your assessment on the retooling, but that's just my opinion. If the new sports car is built on an entirely new platform, then a majority of the tooling from the Lotus facility would be essentially useless in the new one. That's why it doesn't make sense to me. I have no inside information on this one whatsoever though, so it's just my opinion based on my own experience with manufacturing. You could well be right.
        • 8 Months Ago

        Because we all know its impossible for them to retool one facility, do some parts there, and ship them to the other for complete assembly? You don't think that would be cheaper than running to full production lines, with one being a model already several yeas old.

        -If they are truly profitable on each car now being produced, then it makes no sense to stop production of the Roadster for over a year before they introduce something new.

        Yes, it does if they are retooling one plant (and it presumably lowers their overall costs in a capital-intensive period). Not only does that makes sense but its exactly what Elon said himself. Unless you have some solid evidence that refutes what he said that is the standing fact.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Dave It wasn't a freaking press release! it was a SEC filing, where legally they HAVE to reveal the truth of the matter.
        • 8 Months Ago
        This is due to the fact that Lotus is going to replace the current Exige and Elise models. Still it is a mystery why Lotus would not want to sell another 1000 bodies or so.

        What really burns me it that this announcement comes 1 or 2 weeks after a half-Billion dollar government loan. Does anyone here really believe that this was an unforeseen issue? (OOPS! OUR MAIN SUPPLIER WON'T SELL US ANYMORE CARS! Who misplaced the delivery schedules???)

        Tesla will have no income until (unless) they manufacture the type S. Boy, it sure was lucky that they got that loan! Oh! if they use the money to pay expenses, how will they afford a factory?

        Whoever approved that loan should releived of their job and under investigation. Tesla should be required to return any monies received immediately.
        • 8 Months Ago
        --What really burns me it that this announcement comes 1 or 2 weeks after a half-Billion dollar government loan. Does anyone here really believe that this was an unforeseen issue?

        Pretty much nothing you said made any sense but this part was particularly dumb. Tesla applied for the loan in November of 2008, and they were approved June of last year...not 2 weeks ago. The government required detailed plans of their business strategy to prove they were solvent and viable....I have to assume you're simply saying this for drama effect because you can't actually believe they would leave out their future plans for their first and currently only car.

        The move is actually not that surprising if you think about the cost savings involved. Its definitely cheaper to halt production of the (older) Roadster and retool the line for the Model S (and *maybe* use the Model S as the platform for the next gen Roadster), than keeping the old production line running and having to set up a run a second, new, parallel production line for the Model S. But according to your logic showing fiscal prudence so they don't burn themselves out before the first Model S even hits the streets means "whoever approved that loan should releived of their job and under investigation."

        ..uh huh.

        --Oh! if they use the money to pay expenses, how will they afford a factory"

        Another logic fail. So you think Tesla is going to use the loan....just to pay for expenses for the one year they don't have a car being sold....ignoring the fact that the loan will be allotted out like an expense account where they have to detail what each withdrawal is for....what, exactly would be the point of what you just said?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yes Trevor, I read the damn thing....did you use your brain? What I'm doing is using my brain rather than listen to the propaganda of a press release. When they say they have to stop working on assembly line A to "retool" yet they are using assembly line B for the new car....then my BS detector goes up. THOSE ARE TWO DIFFERENT PRODUCTION FACILITIES.

        If they are truly profitable on each car now being produced, then it makes no sense to stop production of the Roadster for over a year before they introduce something new.

        I think Sean's comments make sense and could explain things. But it still seems like it would hurt both Tesla and Lotus to have the production down for a year when they've already sunk the cost on R&D to launch the Roadster.

        I can see Lotus being ticked off if the new versions of Tesla's cars no longer involve them, but it still seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face to stop production if it was Lotus' idea/refusal to go forward.
        • 8 Months Ago
        You're right, it was an SEC filing, not a press release. But, that means they have to tell facts about what they're doing, not why. The fact is that they are going to suspend the production of Roadsters. The "why" is totally open to being spun.
        Why does a person lose weight? They'll often tell people, and themselves, that it's so they'll feel better. But they probably want to look better as much if not more than even the feel good part. Hell, it may be both and which reason is primary may change depending on the day and when you ask them or who they're talking to.

        The facts of what they are doing are very different from the why. I'm simply stating my opinion that simple math does not add up here unless I'm missing some variables (which is very possible).

        If they've already got a profitable car, which they claim, then they need do nothing more than continue to produce those cars to further defray the original costs of R&D that had to be spread over the first 1000 cars and each new car is even more profitable. That is simple math and a fact of any manufacturing ...unless there are some new factors like costs going up or Lotus pulling out, or something along those lines.

        From every manufacturing line I've ever been involved with, and everything I've read about the cars being made, there is a lot of new tooling that has to be done when you change platforms. Now it's possible that they can reuse some of the robots or machinery from the first line and that they belong to Tesla, and not Lotus. I find that hard to believe considering that Lotus is doing the manufacturing but it's possible.

        It's more likely that Lotus wants to move to their new platform and they need the space/ equipment, etc to move to their new platform. If Tesla is indeed moving away from all the Lotus stuff for their next generation sports car as I've heard, then I can see Lotus deciding that it's in their best interest to move on as well.

        Frankly, not a single person on here knows the real reason or the real truth unless you're sitting in on Elon's meetings. So everybody here is simply expressing their opinion without having enough facts to claim they are right.

        I'm sorry to be so defensive and reactive, but I don't like somebody talking to me like I'm too stupid to read the article.

        Polo could very well be right. They could be doing everything they can to save money during a capital intensive period, no matter how much it may hurt current revenue or profits. But if I'm going to look at them as a potential investor with their filing for IPO, it makes me nervous to see them halt sales of their only product, and one that is supposed to be profitable, to tool up for the next generation car with no assurance it will be a success. And I'm really nervous if they have to do that on top of the rather large loans they've just received.

        I may still invest in them, I'm just looking at it closely to see how much of this I think is "spin" and how it affects the risk.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Didn't you read? It is because of tooling changes, tesla doesn't want to make the roadster as is much longer anyway, Elon has stated they will make one based on the Model S skate board platform
        • 8 Months Ago

        Seriously, who cares if you worked for a company that spun press releases...THIS IS AN SEC FILING. There is huge world of legal difference between what goes in a press release and what goes in an SEC filing..unless your suggesting you were helping your company defraud their investors?

        You also don't need to agree with my assessment as that is the words from Elon himself, its a logical move for a startup trying to prioritize capital, and it is doubtful Elon would make public statements which contradict the business plans and documents shown to the DOE and risk losing a $400million loan just as the IPO launches.

        The only thing you have to support your conjecture are long, winded, repetitive paragraphs and suggestions of some impropriety conduct you committed with an earlier employee. I think I'll go with Musk on this one.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I never said anyone or any company I was associated with did anything improper or illegal. I said they spin the reasons WHY they do things to make it look good to outsiders. That's a very big difference and I don't appreciate you saying that.

        An SEC filing requires you to say what you are going to do such as "stop selling the Roadster at the end of 2011." You can claim that God personally told you to do it if you want, or you can say you did it because your goldfish died. The SEC doesn't care why and you don't even have to give a reason why. He added that to influence people who would read it.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Damon, you should not negatively extrapolate from reading SEC filing documents. They are *always* negative and mention the worst case scenario in order to avoid lawsuits. Read Apple's SEC documents and you'll get a heart attack when you learn about everything that could go wrong.

      I choose to see the positive side as Tesla will spend the next two years concentrating on delivering the Model S.

      This is good.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X