News of mass “performance-based departures” at Tesla, reported yesterday by the San Jose Mercury News has underscored the fact that Elon Musk and company have burned through a ridiculous amount of cash in the past two quarters alone, raising questions about why the company would choose to cut nearly 10% of its workforce when the assembly line for the company’s new Model 3 sedan has reportedly not yet been completed, and production remains woefully behind schedule as employees at the company’s Freemont factory have been forced to piece together the cars by hand.
And with Elon Musk reeling from a series of embarrassing revelations, Bloomberg is here to remind us of one of the many reasons why Tesla will never become a global automotive behemoth.
So far, the US government’s generous tax incentives for buyers of electric vehicles have helped bolster Tesla’s sales – a strategy that has been employed across Europe – and have sustained the market’s misguided conviction that Tesla will one day become a profitable enterprise.
But unfortunately, those incentives aren’t nearly enough to create the infrastructure to support Morgan Stanley’s forecast of 526 million electric vehicles operating globally by 2040. Building the charging stations and other infrastructure necessary would cost an astonishing $2.7 trillion, much of which would probably need to be allocated by governments.
Morgan Stanley says the problem requires a mix of private and public funding across regions and sectors. The investment bank’s strategists added that any auto company or government with aggressive targets would be unfeasible unless the infrastructure is in place.
As we’ve noted time and time again, the electric-vehicle industry is essentially being support by generous – and borderline anti-competitive - government subsidies. In China, which has aggressively pushed EVs as a potential remedy for its pollution problem, communist party officials have hit on an effective strategy for forcing consumers to favor electric vehicles. In Shanghai, where tens of thousands of people enter monthly lotteries for just a handful of license plates, consumers who buy electric cars are given license plates with little resistance.
Morgan Stanley expects China to become the largest EV market in the world by 2040, accounting for about a third of global infrastructure spending, Bloomberg reports.
But with Trump in office, it’s unlikely the US will prove so amendable to subsidizing Elon Musk’s ambitions for much longer.