Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is having itself quite a little, merry, merry month of May. The little startup that could – with some U.S. government help – has been making some progress of later on its 10-year history of making electric vehicles. And while the company is getting some assistance from the U.S. government to give itself a chance, it has bucked the trend of many a company that has received federal aid by actually being solvent and making a profit as it did in the most recent quarterly earnings report.
That report was the first item of positive business for Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) this month; not just earning a profit for the first time, but blowing past Wall Street expectations in the process. Another piece to the puzzle was the boffo review by Consumer Reports, which revealed last week that the Tesla Model S sedan tallied the highest score that magazine has ever recorded for a car (99 out of 100), which the one major demerit being that the car is electric, can’t go long distances and the charging process takes a long time. (We’ll get to more on that in a minute.)
The third item that has come to light for Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is its continuing work on innovation. What was also discussed last week was that Tesla was working with Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) – the developer of the “self-driving car” concept – to develop an “autopilot” functionality for vehicles. This does not seem to be necessarily a self-driving idea but rather one where autopilot serves as an assistant for the driver in certain high-stress or high-risk situations (like a medical emergency where the driver might be incapacitated for a time, as an example). CEO Elon Musk doesn’t like the idea of driverless cars per se, but the concept of having a way for the car to still act in a safe manner when the driver cannot could very well save a few lives and perhaps millions of dollars in damage in the long-term.
Now. back to Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and its charging stations. The Model S can go more than 250 miles on a single charge (which three to four times farther than any other all-electric car currently in the market), and the Supercharger stations that Tesla created can fully charge a battery in about an hour. While that seems pretty fast considering how long it takes to recharge a couple of rechargeable “AA” batteries, Consumer Reports knocked off a point for the Model S due to its slow charging compared to the 5 to 10 minutes it takes to fill up gas tank.
How does CEO Elon Musk respond? With a tweet that suggests a new innovation may be coming. He wrote that there is a way for the Model S to be recharged in faster time than it takes to fill the gas tank. While Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has not made the announcement yet, there is wide speculation that Tesla may soon unveil a battery-swap system, which would allow a Model S to get back on the road very quickly. In this scenario, Tesla owners would stop at “specialized” facilities, where the old battery would be replaced by a new battery pack, and the driver can pick up the recharged original battery on its return trip. This doesn’t seem to consider the possibility of a one-way trip, but still.
What are your thoughts? Is this just a good month for Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), or are you a believer that this is the start of something big for the company? If you’re not convinced, why not? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.