The Danger of Worshipping Tesla

 | Jun 09, 2014 | 11:37 AM EDT  | Comments
  • Comment
  • Print Print
  • Print
Stock quotes in this article:

tsla

I didn't mean anything by it. I wasn't trying to provoke a fight or instigate an insurrection or start a jihad against myself. I simply wanted to post a picture of a parking lot that had some BMW i3s where at one time Teslas might have ruled the roost.

The result was a firestorm of tweets about how I didn't know what I was doing, about how unattractive the darned thing is and how it would never even be a threat to Tesla's dominance.

The funny thing is I would have only have heard about Tesla (TSLA), and originally began to recommend it when the same man who took the picture of the BMW i3 had shown me pictures of driveways full of Teslas.

That's right. Anton Wahlman, one of the great observers of Silicon Valley, took this picture and accompanied it with some pretty simple text: "this was the scene outside my weekend breakfast coffee place shortly after 7 a.m. today. All the Teslas are gone just like the wide lapels and wide ties from 1974. The new fashion is the lightweight and the BMWi3, which weighs 2000 pounds less than the Tesla and costs half."

Sure, Anton's a little incendiary when he writes that the Tesla is "so April 2014," but the man who shocked the world with his early endorsement of Tesla's potential is saying this picture is the "canary in the coal mine." That's because the BMW i3 is easy to use for short-haul trips and, while it gives you only 72 miles, it can also run on gasoline and with two gallons gives you another 72 miles until you have a chance to charge it again.

"It may take up to a year for the rest of the world to realize what just happened, but so be it," he opines. "BMWi3 is the new automotive fashion in Silicon Valley and it will become clear next year."

The provocation pretty much derailed my whole Twitter feed as follower after follower denied that the BMW i3 could ever supplant the Tesla. The most common refrains? Hideous. Impractical. Laughable.

When I pointed out that what matters is that Tesla might have some competition on the horizon from a well-established player, that was just met with further catcalls about how I didn't know about Elon Musk and what he wanted to accomplish or how he is just beginning his conquest, and who would want to be caught dead in one of those BMW i3s.

First, let me answer: I wouldn't. I loved test driving the Tesla. Saw one on the road next to me yesterday coming out of the supermarket and adored it. Sleek. All black. Second, though, an economy plug-in has real value, especially for a short-haul car. Third, BMW is an amazing company; it has a lot of money and fire power and is going to get better, not worse, at creating these cars.

Finally, the vociferous nature of the love for the stock is something you never want to see. It is just a huge mistake to root as much as people are on Twitter for the success of this stock. Instead they should welcome the caution and the knowledge of competition from someone who first pointed out the power of the Tesla.

Here's what it says to me: if you own the stock of Tesla understand that, like it or not, there's another player that represents an alternative that could cut into sales. It might not. It might never amount to a hill of beans, but it is out there for all to see -- and I backed the stock for ages.

Sure, there is a YouTube clip of me at first dismissing the stock, which was right. It did next to nothing for those first three years. But when it took off I was all in Tesla. Now, 150 points later, down $50 from its high, call me worried, not from the BMW challenge, but by the worship of a stock.

These are pieces of paper, and no more. Never let them get to you to the point of dismissing all that is out there, including a parking lot full of competition observed by an early Tesla backer. 

Columnist Conversations

I'm eyeing possible support in this one....writing about this tonight! View Chart &raq...
It was a quiet start to the week, in as much as the broader market was concerned. With only three trading day...
Market closes flat as oil & commodities take hit today on back of stronger dollar...something that could c...
Latest PAYX/IHS Small Business Jobs Index released today...Mountain region and Texas metro continue to lead th...

BEST IDEAS

REAL MONEY'S BEST IDEAS

Columnist Tweets

BROKERAGE PARTNERS

Except as otherwise indicated, quotes are delayed. Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes for all exchanges. Market Data provided by Interactive Data. Company fundamental data provided by Morningstar. Earnings and ratings provided by Zacks. Mutual fund data provided by Valueline. ETF data provided by Lipper. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions.


TheStreet Ratings updates stock ratings daily. However, if no rating change occurs, the data on this page does not update. The data does update after 90 days if no rating change occurs within that time period.

IDC calculates the Market Cap for the basic symbol to include common shares only. Year-to-date mutual fund returns are calculated on a monthly basis by Value Line and posted mid-month.