Fans of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) may remember the title of this article from Automobile’s article 2013 Automobile of the Year: Tesla Model S. Said by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, this phrase was said in context of ramping up production and successfully delivering Model S sedans to customers. The entire quote from the article was, “There have been car company start-ups before. The real challenge is to ramp up production. Then we’re a real car company.” As Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) continues to build Model S’ we can examine whether or not Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has become a “real car company.”
More than the Roadster
When Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) began manufacturing the Tesla Roadster for the 2008 model year, electric car enthusiasts were overjoyed by a high performing electric car coming to market. Similarly, those who saw electric cars as compromises on wheels were blown away by the $100,000 two seat carbon fiber car. But the Roadster was not entirely Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s doing–in fact, the body of the car was sourced from Lotus, and the car resembled the Lotus Elise in appearance. Still, the little electric racer did its job; people now knew the name Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA).
From there, the automaker set out on plans to build a world class electric car from the ground up. Buying the former NUMMI factory from Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) gave Tesla more than enough factory space for its creation’s assembly. All they had to do now was build it.
From reviews to production
After receiving nearly universally positive reviews, it was clear that Tesla had developed an amazing car that was a thrill to drive. But great products do not always mean great profits. Tesla began to tool up the Fremont facility for production and a few Model S’ began to roll off the line. A positive sign, but not enough to be a “real car company” just yet.