Tesla’s Ends 2013 On A High Note

And looks forward to 2014.

After 3 battery fires that brought on an onslaught of bad publicity, Tesla is the subject of some positive headlines as we wrap up the year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reconfirmed the highest safety rating of 5-star for the 2014 Tesla Model S. The California-based electric car maker was quick to jump on the chance to point out that their vehicles are “over 5 times less likely to experience a fire than the average gasoline car” and have never experienced any grave injuries or deaths. We should point out as well that the delivery of the Model S only began in 2012 and sold slightly over 20 000 units in 2013, whereas the top 2 best selling cars for the year, the Ford Focus and the Toyota Corolla, each surpassed sales of a million in the same year. The probability is very much in Tesla’s favour and only time will tell if any significant, untoward incidents can occur with Tesla cars as well.

The affirmation from NHTSA gave Tesla’s share price a nice boost after a fall due to the battery fire hullabaloo to a low of about USD120, rising to USD155 on 26 December. Considering that the share started the year at only USD35, the 340% increase is still cause for celebration.

Another bit of good news that has emerged is that Tesla topped Google’s list of most searched for automaker on the arguably most popular search engine. The trend is also in part attributed to the automaker’s captivating CEO, Elon Musk, whose success story and exciting updates about his entrepreneurial ventures, including Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity, translated to a strong online presence. Case in point, his Twitter account has already garnered 500 000 followers.

So, despite the few fiery disasters, Tesla has had a really good year. And it seems likely that this bout of good fortune will continue in the upcoming year.

Investor confidence towards Tesla remains strong for 2014. Experts predict that the share price will continue to climb as demand for the carmaker’s EV continues to grow and production capacity is expanded to meet it. Musk has said that they will achieve an annual delivery rate of 40 000 by end of 2014.

Predictions are rife in the business arena that Tesla will be sold to one of the top conventional automakers in 2014, possibly General Motors or Ford, most likely the former. Should that occur, will it have any effect on Tesla’s brand? The young company is perceived very differently from other automakers, often grouped together with other ‘techy’ companies like Google and Apple, rather than its more established automotive counterparts. Tesla’s HQ location choice, Palo Alto, has further cemented that impression, which has helped differentiated Tesla’s brand, if not elevated it.

Another milestone that Tesla will mark in the year to come is its entry into China. In November 2013, its first showroom was launched in Beijing and online orders began on 14 December. Musk has described the Chinese market as a “wildcard”, but hundreds of orders have been flooding in in the few months since. Tesla’s reputation has preceded it into China, with Chinese buyers clambering to plunk down deposits of RMB250 000, despite the country’s tax on imported electric cars yet to be determined and electric vehicle charging stations are not yet available across the country.

But Tesla has hit a rut in trademarking its Chinese name. Its preferred option – Te Si La – has already been taken by a local businessman since 2006, and in this case, not even money can help solve the problem as Zhan Baosheng, the trademark owner, has stated that he has no intention of selling it. Still, despite being ‘nameless’ in China, Tesla seems to be doing really well as it is. That’s something that branding gurus should consider a subject of study.

image: teslamotors.com

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