The trivial and the not so

First the trivial, although $1.66 billion is no trivial matter, it is now one week that Avengers Endgame is in play (for a few countries 8 days) and it has made a staggering $1,664,151,786 so far, and it is now in 5th position on the list of biggest box office successes in the world right behind Avengers: Infinity War, It will not surpass that before the end of the weekend I reckon, yet by Sunday evening it will surpass both its older brother as well as Star Wars, the Force Awakens, less than two weeks and it will be nipping at the heels of the 20 year standing record of Titanic, the movie is going that fast and there is no stopping it, people want to see it more than once (I would really like to see the 3D version) which was not available to me on opening night. At this point 50% of the top 10 most successful box office titles are all Marvel titles. It made me think back to a conversation I had with some director on how he thought that Fantasy movies had no place to go in the 80’s at the Rotterdam ‘Lantaren Venster’ film festival. That conversation is currently making me giggle, the man was sincere in his belief and that is fine, and just like the Deer hunter is not for everyone, neither is Monster Inc.; we all have different takes on what we call entertainment and what we want to see on the big screen, yet I never forgot his view and me being the eternal diplomat remarking at that point to him on how amazing the movie Krull was (I had a mean streak in those days), and with actors like Liam Neeson (Kegan) how could it not be? He was not stricken with a sense of humour, let me assure you of that.

I never had any doubt that Endgame was going to get where it was now, yet the speed at which it did blew me away, it still does. The fact that during the week, in what is usually regarded as the lull of movie incomes, Avengers: Endgame added half a billion like it was a casual shower moment for Scrooge McDuck inside the United States Mint.

As for the not so trivial we need to take a look at Tesla. The Guardian gave us yesterday (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/02/tesla-elon-musk-raise-money-stocks-bonds) ‘Tesla seeks to raise $2.3bn after concerns it is running out of money‘, even as the newspaper is giving us: “Company announced last week it had lost $702m in the first three months of the year and sold 31% fewer vehicles in the first quarter“, that does not mean that we should go all negative on Tesla. Yet the part that does give rise to concern is: “Founder Elon Musk has previously dismissed the idea of raising more money but in the last earnings call said: “Tesla today is a far more efficiently operating organization than it was a year ago. We’ve made dramatic improvements across the board. And so I think there’s merit to the idea of raising capital at this point.”” When I see ‘a far more efficiently operating organization than it was a year ago‘ I wonder what that is based upon. Consider the cost of being somewhere, why is Tesla in two locations in Sydney, have Sydney sales given rise to a second store? They did the same thing for Melbourne, Amsterdam the Netherlands and we could go on, but when you realise that these are premium locations no matter where you are in the city, having an American approach to locations in Europe, your logistical cost will go through the roof and that is what is happening. The same for Sweden, yet there the cost setting might differ considerably and having part in Täby might make sense, although there are alternatives near Solna as well, perhaps it was a good deal. Now there is a second part, are these Tesla ‘owned’ places or are they independent dealers? No matter what, there are larger costs to consider like displays, parts to show and other items, and many of these places are in expensive areas, now we can agree that there might need to be one, but two?

It goes further that; it is not merely about the stores, it is about awareness to a much larger degree. You see charging the car is still an issue and yes there are solutions. Some look at the home charging solution. Yet consider the amount of energy required, your electricity bill will skyrocket. Now, there are alternatives, first there are solar panels and there we see: “This is why pairing a charging station with a solar panel system is a great solution for EV owners and solar panel owners alike“, I am less optimistic. Depending on several factors you could need up to 70 panels (low end 1kWh a day panel), and when we start looking at the options, when we go for a generic 7kWh solution, we get an annual average of anywhere between the numbers of 20 – 29 kWh daily created. Now this is merely one third of your battery, the question becomes, so you need a 100% every day? When we go commercial sized (30 kWh) we see that the production get to be between 86-133 kWh a day, so basically that takes you off the grid and give you a daily 100% charge, yet the price is also there. At prices that go up to roughly $30,000 – $40,000, now this is not to scare you. Consider that the car ‘fuel’ is free from thereon after, also your house electricity bill is reduced to almost zero, even better you can sell your excess energy to the energy provider, so there is that, but is that what you were after?

Why does this all matter?

It matters as I went to see a Tesla a few weeks ago, merely because I was curious and the Black Men’s Corp Jacket looked appealing for the upcoming winter ($120, which I did not get), and the Models looked pretty cool too (so did the Roadster), yet when I looked into charging, there was a little vagueness (unintentional mind you) they showed the charging unit, and it got me to think things through. I got from more than one source relative the same results “the average petrol car in Australia uses 11.1 litres of fuel to travel 100km (Australian Bureau of Statistics). That’s a cost of $16.65 to travel 100km at $1.50 per litre2. Even a very efficient diesel vehicle (5 litres per 100km) will cost $7.50“, most sites were all about how much cheaper the electricity was, not how much it would cost, so I got one result giving me “the average price for electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh) in Australia is about $0.25 and it takes around 18 kWh to travel 100km in an average EV. So, it will cost approximately $4.50 in electricity charges to travel 100km“, now we have something to work with. If you take the average annual driver distance (20K and divide that by 100) we now see that you are facing an optional saving of $900, not something you can ignore, but we all forget the infrastructure and now my panel viewing becomes important. If we see the brownouts that are going on all over, the switch to Tesla means that the price of electricity goes through the roof at some point, a shortage will do that for you, when everyone needs more electricity, prices go up, and that initial 30 kWh solution now becomes a more interesting money maker, but overall it is not the only path or method to rely on. You see, when the price changes we suddenly see that the $900 savings become a mere $420 savings, yet on the other side your electricity bill rises steadily and with the panels you avoid that 100%, optionally adding income to your household. I do believe that for now the 30 kWh is overkill and as we might not need a full battery every day, we could start with the 10 kWh solution, or even better if they have the plus package (double paneling). The initial $10,000 will earn itself back over 3-4 years and more important it will aid in lowering the electricity bill as the panels can do more than just reload the car battery. More important the larger issue will be the 40 panels, so apartment owners are almost directly out of the race for now, more important, when you have a solution that sets the stage for a doubling down the road with minimum extra you would be looking at reducing the bulk of your electricity bill which is not the worst idea in summer (AC’s swallow electricity like sponges) and that is where we need to look at with Tesla, as we can use Tesla battery power in other ways, the solution becomes an actual larger solution.

They are all about the car and rightfully so, but when did you look around for a battery charge point? That matters, because when there are no options and it must be done at home, you need to have the proper electricity contract, even if that is not the case now, it will be in the future. In Australia, we see Energy Australia giving us: ‘first 10.9589 kWh of peak usage per day‘, then we see ‘Next 10.9589 kWh of peak usage per day‘ and ‘Balance of Peak usage > 21.9178 kWh‘, the prices are all the same for now, but when that changes, which it always does over time? When we see that those in the highest range are charged an additional 5-15 cents per kWh? That will change the cost of living picture real fast and real direct. Now the electrical car is another matter and there is no way that these fears are not with every consumer looking at an electrical car the day after they receive their energy bill, fuel is still more expensive for now; yet when we see it against the Tesla that starts at $112,000 and the highest performance model at $137,000, the math does not work for the largest extent of people. I got here the long way round because it is not the buying of a Maserati that breaks the bank account (for those who can afford it), it is the annual insurance and fuel cost that grab you by the tender spot and makes you regret the choice. Now that we see that and we see that a new 2019 Infiniti Q70 is a mere $48,712 and that is not even close to the cheapest solution, so there is a saving of no less than $63K, if you put that in your super and use the interest to pay for the insurance and fuel you’ll end up paying the cost and growing your fortune, and that by merely banking the additional cost for a Tesla. So no matter how ‘environmentally aware’ you are, the entire saving part becomes a myth and when we see that and we consider that Musk is running out of cash in a myth based created car need that shows that there is a market, yet not with the hardworking population that makes up for a little over 65% of all workers, Elon Musk has a car that is supposed to be for those who prefer high end cars, all whilst we see that the new 2019 Jaguar XF Starts at $50,960, we see that there is a market for people, but is it with Tesla? Consider the question ‘when was the last time you could afford to handover $60K for keeping environmental principles?‘ I met two last year, one was driving a Lamborghini, the other has a black Mercedes-AMG, I reckon they will not join the Tesla community any day soon.

So as I took you on the scenic route towards the drive that Elon Musk requires us all to take and the fact that he seeks $2.3bn, implying he might pressingly need $1.5B by quarter end is a matter for concern, not because of the innovation he created, that is clear and down the track he will be the first; where would Henry Ford be if he never created the Model T? Elon Musk might be the next Henry Ford down the line, yet when we see certain steps taken, we need to see that ‘a far more efficiently operating organization‘ sounds as nice as seeing an organisation grow by 100%, yet when the reality is that they grew from 4 members to 8, we need to seriously consider where we are at and that is where I see Tesla at present. It looks great, yet it is for the bulk of all of us too unaffordable and the bulk of those who can afford it can get the luxury Nissan (Infiniti) or a new Jaguar at half the price and that is where Elon Musk is stationed, in a small niche and in all this.

I do not see the market going his way and that remains to be the sad part, because if he pulls it off and creates a large enough market it will be a historic day for him and for America, they need a win like this in the United States of America where they are in a technology drought. They currently lack of true innovation in too many fields and they show a lack of true new technologies, not amendments or mere iterative steps from the old models that exist. Elon Musk has that one true new technology and I hope that the US can stage it to an actual large enough market, I truly do.

 

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