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There's just one weird thing about Elon Musk's 'range anxiety' tweet (TSLA)

Published by Business Insider on Mon, 16 Mar 2015

Elon Musk and his Twitter feed strike again! Early on Sunday morning, when vast segments of the journalism establishment were nursing their first cup of Folgers, the Tesla CEO tweeted that the company would hold a news conference on Thursday morning to address the pressing issue of "range anxiety" and the Model S sedan.Tesla press conf at 9am on Thurs. About to end range anxiety ... via OTA software update. Affects entire Model S fleet.' Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2015"Range anxiety" is what happens to an owner of an electric vehicle when he or she considers the distance of a journey and concludes the car will not be able to make it without a lengthy battery-charging session. It also confronts wannabe buyers of electric vehicles who know they can refuel a gas-powered car in about five minutes at a vast network of filling stations and get another 300 miles of range. Why get an electric vehicle when you have that level of convenience and security'Musk indicated in his tweet that Model S owners' range anxiety would be alleviated via an over-the-air software update.This is weird ' and probably something of a bait-and-switch on the part of Musk. It also continues a pattern he has established of tweeting out potentially market-moving Tesla news at odd hours and at times when many of the journalists who cover the company could reasonably be expected to be tending to non-Tesla business, such as sleeping, eating waffles, or preparing to take children to soccer practice.It's an @elonmusk world, and we just live in it!Anyway, why was the tweet so weird'The Model S comes in four variations, delivering ranges of between 208 and 270 miles per charge, according to Tesla. That is far better than the ranges of other electric vehicles on the market, most of which deliver ranges of less than 100 miles per charge.In fact, the Model S is pretty much the only electric vehicle that can assure its customers that they will not suffer from range anxiety. Plus Tesla continues to expand its extensive network of supercharger stations, providing free high-speed recharging to Tesla ownersfor life.In the places where a lot of people own Teslas, there are a lot of places to recharge. And Tesla is steadily filling in the supercharger gaps, at least in the US.I have experienced range anxiety in non-Tesla EVs. In a Tesla, however, I've laughed at range anxiety ' even when I drove the high-performance Roadster and drove it hard.Maybe Tesla will announce that a software update will improve charging for higher-performance Model S variants. It is easy to run down the battery when you're cooking around at not-quite-modest speeds.Who knows' Obviously we'll all be watching on Thursday when Tesla reveals the news behind Musk's tweet. But the focus has already shifted to Tesla's expertise at being atechnology company,not a car company, something Morgan Stanley lead auto analyst Adam Jonas highlighted in a short video he recently made about the company: Jonas noted that 60% of Tesla employees were involved in software, versus a meager 2% for traditional carmakers.This is critical. Wall Street is deeply confused about Tesla ' analysts' price targets for the high-flying company range from $65 to $400 (it was trading about $191 on Monday). The stock story ' Tesla is up over 1,000% from its 2010 IPO price ' has turned into a manufacturing story, as the company struggles to scale up from a 35,000-per-year carmaker to one that says it can build half a million vehicles annually.That's a huge gulf to cross.I wouldn't bet that Tesla can't do it. But it does force those who follow the company's financials to concentrate on the thorny questions that arise from placing big wagers on an automaker currently building one car at one factory.I can't help but suspect ' in the most genial way possible ' that Musk is trying to divertsomescrutiny from Tesla's manufacturing challenges and bolster the case that Tesla is of Silicon Valley, not of the rest of the Paleolithic car business. Apps and code, people, not wheels and axles! Just in case you forgot.Importantly, however,he is not trying to shore up a flagging stock.In a tweet on Monday, he said so:Some people seem to think I tweet to affect share price. This is false. A brief rise in $TSLA stock obviously does no good for Tesla or me.' Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 16, 2015Musk doesn't have to tweet to advocate Tesla stock. In fact, he has a history ofcriticizing Tesla's valuations. In a sense, he is the wisest Tesla investor of all. He knows it is very, very hard to build a completely innovative car company, almost from scratch.SEE ALSO:Used cars could be Tesla's secret weaponJoin the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: Every phone needs to have this waterproof technology
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