I love Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA), and I love TSLA stock … but I also love Porsche.
So as a TSLA stockholder, when Volkswagen AG (VLKAY)’s Porsche unveiled its all-electric concept car, the Mission E, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, it definitely captured my attention.
According to my friends at Autoblog.com, the engineers at the iconic German sports car maker are “taking aim at Tesla.”
The Mission E boasts an all-electric engine that generates over 590 horsepower, along with a range of over 310 miles on a full battery charge. Although the Mission E isn’t quite as muscular as the Tesla Motors Model S when it’s jacked-up to “Ludicrous Speed,” the Porsche is definitely punching in the same weight class.
Although the Mission E is an extreme looker, with futuristic lines and curves that look plucked straight out of a Stanley Kubrick film, the vehicle still is in the concept stage. There was no pricing announced for the vehicle, nor was there any official release date.
What I thought was a bit more important news from Porsche was there announcement that every major model over the next 10 years also will have a plug-in hybrid option.
That news, along with the Mission E, can be construed as the fifth-biggest threat in a handful of looming threats to Tesla’s all-electric sport/luxury vehicle dominance.
It also could represent a threat to TSLA stock.
Although the threat posed by Porsche and other luxury vehicle hybrids such as Toyota Motors’ (TM) Lexus, Honda Motors’ (HMC) Acura, and Ford Motors’ (F) Lincoln is real, if you want the status and Silicon Valley street credibility of a cutting-edge technology vehicle, you’re going to call Elon Musk and get into a Tesla Motors Model S, or the soon-to-market Model X.
Still, there are a few other threats to Tesla and TSLA stock out there, including all-electric competitors, unlikely competitors — and even one very big global economic competitor.
TSLA Threat No. 4: The Return of Fisker
Everyone loves a great comeback story, and one comeback story soon to be playing on the open roads is that of luxury electric automaker Fisker Automotive and its all-electric sports car.
The brand recently got some renewed life from Chinese firm Wanxiang Group, a privately owned auto-parts supplier, which acquired the troubled Fisker in early 2014 after the company declared bankruptcy. The Chinese group now has plans to bring back a version of the Fisker Karma sports car, and it’s investing big to do just that. The company is building a 555,670-square-foot production facility in Moreno Valley, Calif.
If a “Chinese Tesla” can come to market via the former Fisker brand, it might ruffle a few of Tesla Motors’ feathers.
TSLA Threat No. 3: Toyota’s Hydrogen Car
Toyota isn’t threatened by the relatively small number of all-electric vehicles Tesla Motors sells, but that doesn’t mean the Japanese auto behemoth doesn’t see alternative fuel opportunities.
Last year, Toyota announced it planned to release the “Mirai” hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, Toyota made the Mirai (which translated from Japanese means “future”) launch official in Europe.
One obstacle to mass-adoption of the clean-burning hydrogen fuel cell is Toyota is building hydrogen pumping stations. The long-term plan is to launch the Mirai worldwide in limited numbers, and then work with partners to develop the hydrogen pumping stations.
If this technology catches on, it could be a threat to Tesla stock, and the entire gas-powered auto market.
TSLA Threat No. 2: Apple’s iCar
In February, Apple (AAPL) launched a venture it called “Project Titan.” Details of the project were given in a Wall Street Journal article titled, “Apple Gears Up to Challenge Tesla in Electric Cars.”
When a company like Apple — with its mega-sized cash war chest and nearly unlimited ability to hire the biggest brains in the tech and auto industries — decides it wants to be in the car business, you’d be silly not to pay attention.
To be certain, the thought of an Apple car, or “iCar,” might be interesting to that cult-like customer, yet I still can’t see Tim Cook outdoing Elon Musk in the “cool department” when it comes to creating an automobile you’d want to drive.
Still, if any company can create an electric car with the appeal of an iPhone, then that would be a threat to every automaker, including Tesla.
TSLA Threat No. 1: $20 Oil
Maybe the biggest threat to electric cars, hydrogen cars or even hybrid-electric vehicles is a collapse in oil prices to $20 per barrel.
That forecast was made recently by Goldman Sachs. Energy analysts at the firm cited persistent supply surpluses coupled with a scarcity of storage space, for the potential plunge in crude.
To be certain, supply-and-demand dynamics are extremely bearish for oil prices (particularly supply). If we were to see a multiyear oil glut that made $20 a barrel oil the norm, then there wouldn’t be much demand for electric vehicles, as gasoline prices would remind us more of the 1980s than the 21st century.
Fortunately for Tesla stock, and for the shares of other alternative-fuel automakers, it’s unlikely we’ll bring back Reagan Administration fuel costs (about $1.20 a gallon).
But if that were to happen, it would be the No. 1 threat to Tesla Motors, TSLA stock and the entire alt-fuel auto segment.
As of this writing, Jim Woods was long AAPL and TSLA stock.