Tesla: The Little, Pricey, Electric Car Company That Could
It’s hard to believe that a small, independent electric car maker, who I had never heard of 4 months ago, has become the darling of Wall Street. Investors everywhere are clamoring to get their hands on the stock or ETFs that hold the stock so that they can ride the Tesla wave.
Tesla is a Silicon Valley-based company that designs, manufactures and sells electric cars. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, said he envisions Tesla as an independent automaker (i.e. you won’t be seeing it on the lot of your local Toyota dealership). While the cars are quite pricey (the Model S has a base price of $62,400) he eventually hopes to mass-produce fully electric cards at a price affordable to the average consumer.
Tesla has had a very impressive year. The stock price is up 165% on the year. In the first quarter of 2013, Tesla turned a quarterly profit for the first time, and Consumer Reports gave the Tesla Model S sedan their highest rating ever. Shares of Tesla are trading 100 times 2014 estimates. Some experts believe that the car company can hit $10 in the near tear based on expectations for the Model S and future Tesla vehicles.
Tesla is hugely popular amongst investors and car aficionados alike. My dad even told me that he won’t retire until there is a Tesla parked in his driveway. While they’ve had a lot of recent success, there are still quite a few questions. Like, where do you even buy a Tesla? How do you get it serviced? And oh, can the stock price continue on its growth path?
But perhaps the biggest question is, how will Tesla be successful, over the long-term, if they only manufacture electric cars designed for the high-end owner? Should they try to be everything to everyone? Or stick to their niche audience? Those will be the difficult marketing questions that Elon Musk will have to answer over the next couple of years.
Understanding who your customers are, is the first, and most important step, of every PR campaign. Tesla has the potential to be the most successful car manufacturer of all time. But in order to maintain their success, they must develop a campaign that meets both the needs of their customers and their shareholders. Messaging for their audiences must be developed and the campaign must be focused. Will Tesla be able to attract enough affluent customers to electric cars? Time will tell.