Last week, Darryl Siry noted on Autopia that Tesla Motors could be running out of zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) credits to sell. Tesla earned at least $13.8 million through these sales in 2009, mostly to Honda, but the number and value of ZEV credits will be limited to the number mandated by the State of California. This means that Tesla could be looking at a much smaller income stream from these credits than the company is used to.
Well, Tesla wrote to Autopia to "address certain points" raised by Siry, including Siry's estimate of $5,000 credit per Roadster (based on an "incorrect quote" by a Tesla vice president) Tesla wrote:
Perhaps more important, Tesla said it "is not dependent on ZEV credit income," adding:We believe that such conclusions are incorrect as they are built on incomplete facts and an incorrect quote. As a public company our policy is to limit our forward looking statements, so we can't comment on the specifics of future revenues. However, we can offer some facts to help the reader reach a balanced conclusion on the role of ZEV credits in Tesla's future.
There's more over at Autopia, but the key point here is that Tesla is implying its financial model is viable without ZEV credits. Siry, to his credit, responds by summing up Tesla's agrument by quoting a friend:Siry noted that in our S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that we generated $8.2 million from sales of ZEV credits, and that they accounted for 85% of our gross margin. However, he conveniently ignored the fact that this was related to 2009 financials. Our European sales had just begun in the second half of the year and we were in the early stages of Roadster production. Siry omitted to pull information from the same table that shows that in the most recent publicly filed quarter, we generated only $0.5 million of ZEV credit income-which represented a mere 13% of our gross margin.
So if I hear it right, they are willing to talk in general terms that could be misleading as long as no one questions the assumptions. And then if someone does they will defend themselves vehemently?