" Tesla supporters are like members of a religious cult," the former GM exec told CNBC's Squawk Box. "Just like Steve Jobs was worshiped at Apple, it's the same way with Elon Musk, who is seen as a new visionary god who promises this phantasmagorical future, a utopia of profitability and volume."
Lutz with the set, and now the spike: "The only problem is, Steve Jobs delivered and Elon, God bless him, hasn't delivered a thing, except increasingly negative cash flow, and an increasing lack of profitability; more and more capital spending."
Now, because we live in 2016, it's not hard to find talking heads that are actually talking out of a certain other part of their anatomy. But Lutz doubles down and explains just what he thinks is wrong with the belle of the automotive ball.
"I just don't see anything about Tesla that gives me any confidence that that business can survive," Lutz said. But when asked whether he thinks Musk's company will go bankrupt, Lutz hedged his bet. "The last time I checked, [Tesla's] quarterly cash burn is about $250 million for a company that size, that's horrific."
According to Lutz, "every time [Tesla] gets a $500 million injection from a new stock sale or a $750 million injection of new money, it lasts them two or three quarters. This is a problem that volume can't fix." Tesla's last cash injection came via a $1.7 billion stock sale in May that helped boost the company's cash position to $3.25 billion at the end of Q2.
"If you're in a variable loss – that is, you're not recovering labor and materials in your sale price – then doing twice as many, or three times as many, or four times as many [sales] doesn't help. The losses just get bigger and bigger."
In the interest of balance, it's worth noting an Electrek article published today refuting a number of Lutz's points. In particular, author Fred Lambert calls Lutz's claims about Tesla not recovering labor and material costs "simply not true."
"Tesla has a positive gross margin on its vehicles for years now and as much as 20 percent for the past few quarters. That's without accounting for ZEV credits," Lambert writes.
"Tesla is losing money on a quarterly basis, there's no doubt about that, but that's after its research-and-development investments and massive capital expenditures in its new assembly line for the Model 3 and investments in the Gigafactory, among other things," the Electrek story reads. "It's completely different from saying that they are losing money on vehicles because they are 'not recovering labor and materials,' which is materially untrue."
Tesla just reported its earnings this afternoon, and the news was good. You can check out Lutz's bit on CNBC below.
UPDATE: Elon has a sense of humor about it all.
Dear cult members, I love you https://t.co/1OzRaSQzhT— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2016