There can be no doubt that Tesla Motors is extremely successful, as their market value has passed other American giants such as Ford and GM. That being said, strangely enough, Tesla is not profitable, with them posting just under a $675 million USD net loss in 2016, despite having benefited from a number of alternative fuel and green energy grants.
In spite of this, Tesla’s stock keeps rising. This leads some, such as Fortune magazine, to speculate that Tesla’s real value is as a battery manufacturer, rather than as an automotive manufacturer.
As an automotive firm, Tesla is seeing some degree of success, selling over 76,000 vehicles in 2016 despite their range still being exclusively on the premium end of the market, with their Model 3 clocking in at £35,000.
That being said, the demand for alternate fuel cars, especially hybrids and fully electric vehicles, is on the rise in the UK in a big way, with demand for fully electric vehicles rising 48% in 2016, and demand for hybrid vehicles rising 133%. Tesla is, however, a small fraction of this market, with cars such as the Nissan Leaf and competing executive BMW i3 outstripping Tesla in 2016.
Tesla may have a future in the motoring industry, but they are far from the market leader their stock prices might suggest.
There’s no ‘Planet B’, but is there a ‘Planet Battery?’
Tesla’s real innovation and value may come in the battery market, rather than the automotive market. Far from being only about car batteries, businesses such as http://www.grovesbatteries.co.uk/ make their living on power supplies, batteries for mobile homes, and other lithium ion or Li-Ion batteries which are fueling our transition to greener power generation.
For example, Tesla is now marketing a product called Powerwall, which allows households to store energy they generate through solar panels, or energy when the power grid is at it’s cheapest, enabling the distributed power generation which will fuel the upcoming Green Revolution.
In short, electric cars are a small portion of what we all will be doing in the next few years to transition toward a green economy, and batteries are essential in that. Tesla’s real value will likely be in what they produce in their battery-focused Gigafactory, not from their auto plants.