Tesla Model 3: Finding perspective
Plus: Analysis on Top Gear and a smaller Ram pickup.
It's a staggering feat considering the Model 3 is one car, from one company that's just 13 years old. It begs the question: Is all of this attention warranted?
Barclays analyst Brian Johnson urged investors to "take a deep breath," and be mindful that the Model 3 won't likely arrive in "significant volume" until possibly 2019. Though Tesla promises the car will launch in 2017, Johnson points to the slow rollouts of the Model S sedan and Model X crossover as cautionary notes.
The potential extended wait didn't temper the enthusiasm of Tesla's faithful, and many put down deposits before they had even seen the car. Johnson compared the hype to a "Black Friday atmosphere," saying the social media buzz went from "insane mode to ludicrous mode," in a riff on Tesla's driving features. Still, the Barclays analyst was admittedly "curmudgeonly" when it came to Tesla's stock price.
In comparison, Morgan Stanley called Tesla's shares undervalued, and expects the Model 3 to be the start of cataclysmic changes in the industry. "We have said for some time that, despite its many worthy accomplishments, Tesla had not yet truly disrupted the auto industry," according to a report led by Adam Jonas. "We are now getting a feeling that this may be starting to change."
The Model 3 offers a range of 215 miles on a single charge, can sprint to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, and has room for five. It will also be capable of charging on Tesla's supercharging network and features the company's autonomous technology. With a starting price of $35,000 before incentives, it's arguably the most futuristic car that's attainable for a wide swatch of American buyers, though the Chevy Bolt EV is comparable (200-plus-mile range, $37,500 MSRP before incentives) in many ways.
The Model 3's attainability is what partially drove the hype. It was like Elon was whispering: You can own the future. The question is now: Can Tesla deliver? If it does, this early fanfare will be richly deserved.
News & Analysis
News: Top Gear appears to be in turmoil as Chris Evans works four hours a day.
Analysis: Is this a soap opera or a car show? The latest reports out of the United Kingdom have the show's new frontman, Chris Evans, logging four-hour workdays. The caveat is he's already up before dawn to do his radio show. Considering both programs are on BBC properties, it would seem a compromise could be reached.
The bigger question is: Who cares? If the show turns out, that's all that matters. Except several incidents are already throwing into question the success of TG's reboot. In March, the show was flagged for doing donuts around the UK's nearly century-old national war memorial. Before that, Evans was caught by tabloids puking after filming hot laps with co-host Sabine Schmitz at the wheel, which actually made the show's trailer. Plus, Evans was reportedly against former Friends star Matt LeBlanc joining the show (the two don't seem to like each other), which has an unusually large cast compared to the longtime trio of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. Meanwhile, those three are starring in their own show on Amazon, which is putting Evans' new generation of Top Gear – and its missteps – under even greater scrutiny. Truth be told, the Clarkson-led version was hardly devoid of drama, which is what some fans loved.
News: Ram is reportedly considering adding a midsize truck to its lineup.
Analysis: Do it. Now's the time. General Motors jumpstarted the segment with the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. With the new Toyota Tacoma and upcoming Honda Ridgeline joining the party, Ram can't afford to be left behind. A credible midsize truck would give Ram definition with new consumers. Right now the foundation is the 1500. Then it's big trucks and work vans. Something smaller than the 1500 — but by no means soft — could attract new buyers. The Detroit News reports Mike Manley, who leads Ram and Jeep, said there's an "opportunity" for this product, though he wouldn't offer any more details. We think there's more than an opportunity. This is could be Ram's next big break.
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