This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Who Will Challenge Tesla and Who Won't

Stocks in this article: TSLA AAPL MSFT NSANY GM TM HMC

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors in Tesla (TSLA) need to understand what and when the other car companies intend to do to compete with Tesla, if anything at all. This article is an attempt at a tutorial.

There are at least three attributes that make Tesla into a new kind of automobile experience: an all-electric car that is EPA-rated at 265 miles, almost three times its nearest all-electric competitor; a superior infotainment system fitted in two screens, including one 17-inch touchscreen; a direct sales model, essentially copying the Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) Store models.

This article focuses exclusively on the first of those three attributes. (I will deal with the other two in separate articles.)

It is fair to say that Tesla is enjoying a scarcity premium to its stock market valuation resulting from selling an all-electric car with by far the highest performance and longest range. As real or potential investors, we need to have a view on how long this scarcity premium will prevail -- and for that matter how long it will even be important, even if it prevails.

Competition from pure electric cars: These cars have been priced mostly between $30,000 and $40,000, before tax adjustments, and their EPA-certified electric ranges are mostly between 75 and 90 miles. By a wide margin, the sales leader here has been the Nissan Leaf, with approximately 100,000 sold globally in three years of production -- half of which in the U.S.

Competition from plug-in hybrids: These cars have also been priced mostly between $30,000 and $40,000 before tax adjustments. To a far wider degree than pure electrics, these cars differ between each other in architecture and capability. The size of battery, and the way the electric motors interact with a gasoline or diesel engine, differ materially from car to car.

The sales leader in this category has been General Motors' (GM) Chevrolet Volt, which has sold a bit over 50,000 units since inception three years ago, mostly in the U.S., followed by the plug-in version of the Toyota (TM) Prius and two Ford (F) models (C-Max and Fusion).

Alternative energy storage systems: Hyundai, Toyota and Honda (HMC) have announced fuel-cell cars for commercial availability in 2014-15. These cars have electric motor drivetrains just like pure electric cars but instead of storing most of the energy in a battery it is stored in a hydrogen tank, which can be refilled within a few minutes, almost like in a gasoline/diesel car. Initial cars are said to have a range of 300 miles.

The most fundamental problem with fuel cell cars is that relative lack of infrastructure. There are approximately 10 stations in the U.S. now, and most of them in the Los Angeles area.

1 of 4

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs