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It's a common refrain: the German automotive aristocracy boasts superior performance over American muscle cars. But, times are changing. There's a new kid on the block — in Silicon Valley, not Motor City. In fact, Silicon Valley's Elon Musk has become the boogeyman at one Bavarian automaker. Sure, Musk can do rockets. But can he do high-end sedans at the level of a Mercedes, BMW, or Audi? Well, the folks over at UK's Carwow decided to put a Tesla through its paces with a few of Germany's finest.

Above: Carwow raves that the Tesla Model S "offers stunning performance and technology" (Image: Carwow)

Carwow's showdown is described as a unique opportunity to, "settle two big scores all in one video: which brand makes the world’s fastest wagon, and who makes the most rapid luxury saloon? To find out, the Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate, the Audi RS 6 Avant, the BMW M760Li and the Tesla Model S P100D line up against each other, for one of the closest ever carwow races." Each of these, "four performance monsters all with over 600hp and all-wheel-drive" had to face off in both a drag and rolling race.

Above: Carwow pits Tesla's P100D against Germany's finest (Youtube: carwow)

Okay, we suspected Tesla would rule the track. But, what's Carwow's verdict on the vehicle itself? It turns out that reviewer Matt Watson was able to provide personal feedback on Tesla's "electric saloon" in an earlier review. Watson...
Famed Apple analyst turned Venture Capitalist, Gene Munster at Loup Ventures, recently attempted to answer Wall Street's burning question — isn't Tesla just another car company? Munster's answer: "Tesla is not (just) an automaker. Nor is it (just) a battery, solar, or software company. Tesla is an agent of change. Its mission is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy – and its story is about engineering a different future. Each move the company makes lends itself to a higher-order goal, and, as you zoom out, the picture becomes clearer."

Above: The Tesla Model X and Model S (Image: Recombu)
Munster elaborates, "Tesla seems fine with investors and the public thinking they are an automaker. Musk knows that his ambitions to manufacture electric vehicles, develop autonomous driving software, double the world’s output of lithium-ion batteries, be the largest solar panel installer in the U.S., and modernize energy production, storage, and consumption, must be executed in steps, each building on the last."

Elon Musk took a uniquely Silicon Valley approach to building the company. "Tesla, like others in technology today (e.g., Amazon), is attacking non-tech sectors with a thoughtful, albeit unconventional, commercialization plan. If your goal was to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, you might get a degree in chemistry or electrical engineering, go on to study environmental engineering or law, assert yourself as an expert in the field, create an interest group, lobby congress, get approved to test a project; you get the picture."...
Renowned mutual fund manager and investment icon Ron Baron of Baron Capital is well-known for his conservative, long-term approach to stock picking over his 46 year career. He's been compared to Warren Buffett (both for his investing style and outstanding track record) and recently created a bit of a stir when he predicted Tesla stock could hit $1,000 by 2020.

Above: Ron Baron (right) interviewing Elon Musk (left) at the 2015 Baron Capital conference (Image: Baron Funds)
Baron Funds second quarter commentary (via Valuewalk) includes a letter from Ron Baron highlighting some fascinating insights surrounding Tesla. To understand businesses, Baron notes the importance of, "the individuals who lead those businesses; and of the character and talent of the individuals... In the end, we think it’s all about people." Baron cites an unnamed Tesla executive who told him, "It is amazing to me how little most people know about Tesla."

Baron explains, "Few institutional investors have met with Elon and JB. Fewer still, we’re guessing, have met with the co-founder’s teaching instructor at Stanford. We believe fewer and fewer in the investment industry are performing even the most basic research on businesses... Our meeting with Dr. Yadigaroglu is one example of Baron Funds’ differentiated primary research approach."...
One distinct competitive advantage often considered for Tesla is the company's complete commitment to an electric vehicle future. Their cars don't sacrifice anything in the design process — they're built from the ground up to take advantage of a wholly unique electric vehicle architecture. And, according to Reuters, "Electric motors are smaller than petrol or diesel engines, so electric vehicles designed from scratch can benefit from better interior packaging which allows a bigger passenger space."

Above: Tesla Model 3 followed by a BMW (Image: InsideEVs)
It's reported that, "There are two ways to make battery-driven vehicles: use a clean-sheet design like Tesla, or a traditional vehicle platform that can use all types of motor: combustion, electric or a hybrid of the two." In contrast to Tesla, BMW's vision for the future appears to be one that allows for an amalgam of vehicle technologies crammed into one design as opposed to committing, completely, to an electric vehicle architecture.
Above: A look back at why Tesla originally decided on a clean-sheet design approach in order to engineer an electric vehicle "from the ground up" (Youtube: Tesla)
BMW is, "betting they can mass produce new electric cars based on conventional vehicles." Looking at their plans, "BMW is preparing to launch an all-electric version of its popular X3 offroader by 2020, and... a new electric BMW, the i Vision Concept, [which] will use the same underpinnings as future versions of the BMW 3-Series. Electric...
In a fascinating article in Institutional Investor, Michelle Celarier writes that Tesla [NASDAQ: TSLA] is: "the biggest short in the U.S. market; about 27 percent of Tesla’s free float is short, for a value as high as $10 billion" according to S3 Analytics, a firm that tracks short sales. That said, "the stock has soared more than 1,300 percent since Tesla went public in 2010. It is the first automaker to go public since Ford in 1956, making it one of the darlings of the post-financial-crash bull market."

Above: Tesla Model S (Image: Bloomberg)

It turns out that one of the most notorious Tesla shorts is Mark Spiegel. And Spiegel hasn't even driven a Tesla yet. He says, “I’m more into sports cars." According to Celarier, "Spiegel has become something of a zealot on Tesla. His small hedge fund, Stanphyl Capital Management, runs a mere $8.5 million, given that it was down 20 percent this year through August. That’s largely due to his short of Tesla, which had gained 74 percent this year, making it the worst-performing short of the year."

However, there are bigger players out there shorting Tesla. Celarier reports that: "Everyone who’s anyone in Wall Street’s small and clubby world of short sellers has been short Tesla at one point or another... In the past, some of them also shorted Google and Amazon — other high flyers who weren’t making a profit — and somewhat sheepishly [now] admit they were wrong. Clearly, these guys are not dreamers from California’s La La Land, and Musk’s grand plans and his 'save the world' ethos can elicit a few eye rolls."

Another well-known Tesla short,...
I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with the new Hyundai Ioniq Electric this past weekend and thought I'd share my observations.
Although I've spent an inordinate amount of time recently in both the virtual and real EV world trying to catch up from 37 years of ICE worship (more if you count the pre-drivers-license era), I find myself still woefully lacking in pure EV seat time. And now that I'm regularly volunteering at local EV advocacy events it's important I make at least some attempt to be usefully informed on the different models currently available. So I generally jump at the chance to put some hours in anything I can get my hands on.

The Ioniq is a family of three, a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and the EV. I drove the EV, or Electric as Hyundai calls it.
There are a great number of online reviews of the car already, so I won't go into great gory detail about the equipment/specs etc. The short story on that is Hyundai is trying to carve a niche for itself in the hybrid/EV world the same way it did in the ICE world, with value. Specifically, offering more standard equipment and better materials for the same money or less than others in the segment. On that front I think they've done well here, the car feels slightly more upmarket inside than its current competitors, the Focus EV, Prius, Volt and Leaf (one could add the e-Golf but it only just trickling in now). In Canada the base price is $35,649 and this includes lots of goodies, electric everything, heated front seats, Apple car play, Android auto, 7" touch-screen and best of all Level 3 DC fast charging (80% recharge in 22 mins). For just $1K more you can also add a heat pump and heated rear seats, which should make for a substantial range improvement in winter conditions. I was driving the Limited version, which principally adds sunroof, leather and adaptive cruise for an additional $4K. That starts to make it a bit pricey, but still not bad for what you get. But at base price this thing has...
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