This is what passes for criticism in the tech journalism world of 2015: “Elon Musk is a genius. He’s a business icon. He’s a massive force for good on our planet, and he’s one of the most impressive people of this century, having founded PayPal, SpaceX, SolarCity, and, of course, played a leading role in building Tesla, perhaps the most innovative car company on the planet.”
That’s Venture Beat’s John Koetsier complaining that Musk’s grand unveiling of the Tesla Model X just wasn’t amazing enough. He continues, concluding that “Tesla will go on. The Model X will sell well. And Elon Musk will continue to be an outrageously successful individual. But it could have been much better.”
And over on Fast Company, Neal Ungerleider claims the Model X represents the mainstreaming of the electric car, despite its $130,000 price tag. While the Silicon Valley fan club that is tech and venture capitalism journalism seemed reluctant to admit that Musk is a mere mortal, you can find the true skeptics on Wall Street. Not everyone is actually convinced the Model X is going to sell. Despite nearly universal praise for the Model X, which is by all accounts a truly impressive specimen, shares for Tesla are dropping so far this week.
Far from going mainstream, the Model X is just too expensive. Not only that, but most Americans would struggle to find accessible charging stations on the road. While there remains a niche for hybrids and all-electric vehicles, the $130,000 Model X is a tough sell. Hybrid cars are 20-35% more fuel efficient than traditional vehicles, and produce about 20-35% less emissions as a result. However, while total U.S. sales of hybrid cars have been flat in recent years, electric vehicle sales are modestly increasing.
Despite small gains in the market for EVs, analysts say the newly released Model X and its “falcon doors” are unlikely to appear in many driveways. This week, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas — another noted fan of Tesla and Musk — revised forecasts for Tesla sales downward. Jonas issued sharply lower projections for Tesla’s sales through 2018, and Wall Street reacted accordingly.
For now, the mainstreaming of electric cars appears to be on hold.