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TheStreet Open House

Does Elon Musk Think We're All Complete Fools?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Maybe Jim Cramer is right and Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings isn't that bad after all.

Long considered the master of smoke and mirrors by NFLX bears, Hastings has fantastic competition as Tesla Motors (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk appears to have entered the dog and pony show.

I'll stop just short of calling Tesla's new the best of the both worlds' lease/finance option for its Model S a scam. It's not. Upside exists. For instance, you have greater flexibility at the end of your term. In this regard, Tesla's program does blend the best aspects of leasing and buying a vehicle.

This is marketing, and bad marketing at that. Musk should give less undivided attention to his own thoughts. They're running away with themselves.

I'm not even anti-EV. Or anti-Tesla. In fact, the Model S is a thing of beauty. I have written quite a few bullish articles on Tesla the company and TSLA the stock. It's a premium brand that targets high-end affluent markets.

In fact, since I wrote this bull case for TSLA last May, the stock is up 25% -- and that takes into account today's 7% haircut!



Anyway, Tesla doesn't need to provide an affordable, mass appeal product. In fact, it's probably better off doing just the opposite. Musk's ploy here puzzles me.

Unless Model S sales are slumping -- and I don't think they are -- why bother with this? Does the billionaire Musk simply want to portray a kinder, gentler self and an egalitarian Tesla? Is he merely teeing up a more modest image ahead of plans to enter a broader market against Nissan's (NSANY) Leaf, General Motor's (GM) Chevy Volt, other lower-priced EVs and other cars marketed, at least in part, on the basis of superior fuel economy?

If he is, he's (A) being disingenuous and (B) addressing a problem that doesn't exist.

Play around with Tesla's True Cost of Ownership calculator. You need to be typecast worse than Jennifer Aniston to play the role of a person who would benefit much, if at all, financially by bleasing a Model S.

Tesla's assumptions are unrealistic for most of the population. Ultimately, they only matter to its core pool of prospective buyers who don't have to ask what the car costs and likely have already reserved or are driving one. It's not that these cats don't like saving a few bucks (that's often why somebody is relatively well-off in the first place), but, if you're Musk, why ask? What's the point? There's got to be an ulterior motive.

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