September 14, 2012
Investor Urges Tesla Motors To Invest In Flying Cars
John Neumann for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Silicon Valley-based automaker upstart, Tesla Motors, has a brash claim for the throne of electric vehicle engineering. The company sold an all-electric and generally well-received roadster and is now aiming at wider sales with its more conservative Model S sedan, reports Ben Klayman for Reuters.For all its whiz-bang features and gorgeous styling however, the company has only sold 100 roadsters so far this year and is cutting in half its production target for its new Model S sports sedan, writes Wunderlich Securities analyst Theodore O´Neill.
Venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson co-founder Tim Draper however is cheerleading for the boutique automaker. Draper has backed big idea start-ups such as SpaceX and Skype and supports Elon Musk´s Tesla in saying it has the resources to beat the Detroit Three in the long term.
“Oh yeah,” Draper said in an interview at the Techonomy conference at Wayne State University. “Don´t live in your reality distortion field here in Detroit. You´ve got to look at it and say, ℠Yeah we could do something here. We can innovate.´ Create a flying car. Create something different because you´ve lost the electric-car battle. See if you can win another.”
While electric cars are a small percentage of overall sales, more and more of the large automakers have serious support for them. General Motors (GM) is fully supporting its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, for a record month in August with a claimed 13,500 for this calendar year so far, but the company has admitted to discounted leases to power up those sales.
Tesla has said that this year it expects to sell 5,000 of its new Model S pure-electric sedan at a price range of more than $50,000 to nearly $110,000. The company has goals of 15,000 hitting the street in 2013, but analysts have expressed skepticism that orders will meet those targets.
Draper however continues to cheerlead for Tesla in particular and electric vehicles in general but sees Detroit´s big three automakers as falling behind. “They have not innovated nearly enough in the auto industry here,” he said in an interview following his speech at the conference. “They really should wake up.”
Asked whether DFJ would consider opening a venture capital office in Michigan, Draper said it´s possible. “You know, I haven´t really thought about it,” he said. “It would be driven by the entrepreneurs I see here, and I´ve seen a few, but I haven´t seen too many.”
One of the regions top assets, he said, is its “incredible education institutes...So you do graduate some incredible people,” he said. “The question is, do they want to stay? It would take a real innovative hero to say I´m going to stay in Detroit and I´m going to start a business and since all those people are unemployed and all that real estate is so cheap, I think I´ve got a real edge.”