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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Tesla(TSLA - Get Report) and Fisker received some unexpected attention in last Wednesday's presidential debate. There are some important differences between these two companies, however. This article outlines my theory of what will happen to Fisker in the coming months and years.
But first, Tesla. The Tesla story is simple in comparison, in that there is hardly any doubt about how this company will progress for the next several years, short of an M&A event.
Tesla has over 12,000 refundable $5,000 (and up) reservations for its hatchback, the Model S. Prices range from $57,400 to just over $100,000. Tesla has delivered approximately 300 cars since production started in June, making for a much slower ramp that it expected when it started.
Unfortunately for Tesla, the calendar year break comes in the early/middle phase of its ramp to 20,000 cars per year. Instead of reaching "cruising altitude" by Thanksgiving, this now looks to happen by February, barring further production issues.
All in all, however, the Tesla story remains on track for near-certain success. Tesla will make and sell close to 20,000 Model S cars in 2013, reaching profitability. In early 2014, the Model X minivan comes online, adding another 10,000 to 15,000 cars per year. Then, in 2015 or 2016 at the latest, Tesla should launch its lower-cost platform, competing for cars near the $40,000 mark.
All the while, Tesla's investors
Toyota(TM) are or have been generating extra high-margin revenue for a couple of their new cars. Much of Tesla's enterprise value comes from its patents and other IP associated with its focus on its signature drivetrain technology. Then add the unique sales (stores) model, which has largely applied the
Apple(AAPL) model to the automotive industry.
So basically, Tesla is all set. But what about Fisker, which was lumped into Tesla in last week's presidential debate mention?
Fisker remains privately held, with
Kleiner Perkins being one of the lead investors. The spectacularly beautiful Karma car is the closest thing to a four-door Ferrari. Close competitors include the
Aston Martin Rapide and
The problem with the $110,000 or so Karma is primarily that it hasn't sold very well. Only approximately 3,000 have been manufactured, and probably no more than 2,000 have been sold.