While markets fret over Coronavirus and the impending collapse of the global economy, focus on individual stocks has been taking a backseat.

 But Tesla remains as fascinating as ever.

 While I don’t currently have a short position in the stock, and have no immediate plans to open such a position (Charlie Munger would agree), it’s no secret that my sentiment is firmly with the bears. If you want a catch up, here’s the talk I gave at last year’s UK Investor Show.

 I probably will short Tesla again, at some point in the future. But timing really matters, whenever you do anything on the short side.

Most recent earnings call – more broken promises

I understand that promises are hard to keep. In business, things crop up. Most businesses fail, and when you try to do extraordinary things, success can’t be guaranteed. I often find that my own projects are delayed, for one reason or another.

What makes Elon Musk special, however, is the size of the promises he makes, and the consistency with which he fails to keep them.

For example, let’s take the most recent Q4 Earnings Call.

At 1:00:12, Elon Musk is asked when the Tesla Full Self-Driving (FSD) product will be “feature complete”.

If you go back to February 2019, Musk said:

“I think we will be ‘feature-complete’ on full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention this year… I am certain of that. That is not a question mark.”

Musk has been collecting money from customers for “FSD” since all the way back in 2016. Here’s an example of someone who claims they’ve paid for FSD multiple times. Since FSD doesn’t exist yet, they’ve never received the product. FSD currently costs $7,000.

That is the real genius of Musk. He can whip up so much excitement about his future achievements that people will pay him cold hard cash in the present for products which don’t exist yet.

It was the same with the Model 3 vehicle. Tesla took in hundreds of thousands of orders (and deposits) for this vehicle in 2016. Buyers holding out for the cheaper trims of this vehicle then had to wait three years for…

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