Where Goeth Tesla and its Model X?

Earlier today I read an OpEd on Autoblog, Let’s Face It: Tesla’s Model X was a Mistake. While I don’t subscribe to this clickbait, it caused me to think more about Tesla, the Model 3 and their future.

The article asserted the Model X was a mistake, because the project became bloated insanity?—?they basically threw in every feature they could think of. Tesla probably sees this as a technological achievement and a landmark of carmaking. Certainly, themodelx Model X is impressive. Those Falcon doors are fun to watch (after the initial novelty wears off, does one start to agonize over their speed, or lack thereof). In fact, all the doors can open as if you have an invisible valet. It’s all very cool for a production automobile.

Back to the article: I think Tesla must continue upscale. I left this comment on Autoblog and sharing here:

The Model S has crept up from its $50k-ish pricing to over $100k depending on equipment. I read the average selling price is $85k. To me, this is indicative of a strategy to gain more profit to offset the costs and lack of scale. The Model 3 cannot scale to the numbers everyone expects?—?Tesla doesn’t have the infrastructure. Car showrooms are not Apple Stores?—?the complexity of distribution and support is too great.

Model X is the right strategy, albeit an overly complex one (I’m very concerned about their reliability). Continuing to go upscale is Tesla’s only hope. There simply isn’t enough margin to play in the $45k arena, especially considering their lack of scale.

I predict Model 3 will cost a lot more than anticipated?—?I’m guess around $65k base price. They’ll justify the cost by comparing it to a loaded up BMW 3-series with Tesla’s tech advantage.

With the Volkswagen Group showing prototypes of 300-mile range EVs and publicly speaking of nearly 200-mile range Golfs (around $35k), I’d be very concerned to be Tesla. At 2% of the US market, EVs account for a pittance and aren’t profitable. If the market grows into a real market, Audi will introduce a modern crossover with 300-mile range, for under $100k that is supported by a large dealer network. At that point, I would probably not want to be holding Tesla stock.

Not all is lost, Tesla can remain a strong, profitable niche player, just like an Aston Martin and be profitable. They can continue to move the technology forward and innovate. Plus, there’s battery packs and power systems they can market?—?so there’s a lot of upside in the whole company. As a car company, though, they need to reign in the hyperbole a bit and enjoy being the unique player they’ve become.

This also posted on Medium

RSS Feeds: To Truncate or to Expand

When creating an RSS Feed (or Atom, if that’s your flavor), how do you decide the level of information you want to provide in your feed?  Many sites decide to post only the headline in their feed, causing the reader to visit the site, thereby enhancing page-view counts.  At the other extreme, others decide to put the entire article in their feed, allowing readers to use a feed reader (like Google Reader or NetNewsWire) without having to click out to the site.  Some also truncate the article, giving readers a glimpse of the article–most likely designed to hook them into the draft and get them to click through to the main Web site. I’m torn on what makes sense here and what to recommend to clients. Surely, you want page views, which not only gives you better stats, but may provide income in the form of advertising page- or click-thru’s.  Still, the experience of having to click out of your feed reader every time you want more and waiting for a site to load (especially those bogged down by slow ad-servers), can be terribly annoying.  Some more innovative sites have interstitial ads in their feeds, but that’s not the same as complete page views.  

As a reader, I find clicking out of feeds as annoying as watching live TV and enduring commercials.  We in the TiVo generation want what we want, without interrupting our flow or appetite for devouring information.  Clicking out of feeds, in my opinion, is like experiencing traditional media’s interruptive commercial breaks.   It messes up my thought flow.   There’s so much information I need to devour to keep up with the various subjects I write or consult about, taking the time is simply not worth it.  With mostly regurgitative information on blogs these days (especially tech and automotive–my areas of expertise), there’s always another site displaying with the same info–the story will eventually come across my radar as a result. 

So today I’ve ended my obsession with reading every bit of every headline that catches my attention.  There’s not enough time to click through to other sites, so sites like German Car Blog will lose a reader (because I know if it’s interesting Winding Road will post it anyway).  I also am recommending at least a 40% truncated story to be including in each feed post to anyone who asks–but will ultimately advise full articles.  If your story is compelling enough, you will gain readership to your site, which ultimately will gain you more traffic, ad views and click-through’s.  This is the new media way.