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TheStreet Open House

A Tesla in Every Driveway

During the entire weekend of driving around, I did not see a single Mercedes S-class or 7-series BMW that was less than three months old, either in a driveway or on the street. Tons of Chevrolet Volts, Nissan LEAFs and Tesla Model S's -- but very few brand-new gasoline cars over $60,000. I define "brand-new" as cars with the temporary dealer registration tags, typically valid for 90 days or less.

It would be good to see what the official statistics are, if any, on the plug-in electric cars in at least these parts of Silicon Valley. Are they 70% of all new-car sales? Higher? Seventy percent of all car costing more than $40,000? Ninety percent?

How is this dramatically high demand for electric cars reflected in the demand for public electric-car charging stations? I drove into downtown Palo Alto and checked the five charging stations several times every day, several days in a row. The occupancy rate: 100% at all times. It didn't matter whether it was 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. Even worse: There were several electric cars parked next to these cars, waiting to charge. The demand for electric chargers appears to be close to 10 times the supply of them -- and probably more on weekdays.

The point here is this: Tesla cars are, of course, not yet commonplace all over the country. However, at ground zero, in its home market, the luxury-sedan market share has already hit 100% based on my personal observations. Given how many cars are sold every year in the major California coast cities -- San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego -- Tesla may not need to sell a single car anywhere else in the world, ever. It can easily sell the 20,000 to 30,000 cars it has planned to sell every year in California coastal cities alone.

Other carmakers are taking note of this steep adoption curve in Silicon Valley. The major carmakers are spending billions of dollars preparing their answers to Tesla, Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF. There will be an onslaught of models from all carmakers entering production starting already this year and accelerating all the way to 2018.

More about this in another article, coming soon.

At the time of publication, Wahlman owned shares of AAPL, GOOG and FB.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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