Tesla Rewind: April 2012 – Tesla Roadmap, Aerodynamics, Vertical Integration, Major Shareholder Stock Dump



Published on April 10, 2020 |
by Zachary Shahan

April 10, 2020 by Zachary Shahan

Sometimes it feels like the Tesla Model S appeared yesterday. Sometimes it looks like it’s been decades. It was actually almost 8 years ago. I thought it would be interesting to come back to Tesla’s cover at the time to reflect on how Tesla has grown and matured as well as how Tesla’s media coverage has changed. Below are stories that appeared on the first page of Google’s search results for “Tesla” when locked in the period of April 2012 as well as CleanTechnica highlight.

Tesla opens store in Norway

We published 5,630 articles labeled “Tesla” (or 5,631 if you count this one). However, we didn’t really start covering the business closely until the Model S landed. In April 2012, our only article with the “Tesla” tag was a press review that mentioned that Tesla was opening a room and a service center in Norway. In fact, Tesla has released a press release on this via a major press release service. Imagine Tesla doing this today. Tesla hardly ever releases press releases, and the opening of a showroom and service center is very little news these days. Additionally, we all know that CEO Elon Musk can just type a quick tweet on anything big or small and that will generate tens, if not hundreds – if not thousands – of titles.

The other crazy thing about this news is to remember how young and small the Norwegian electric vehicle market was in 2012 compared to today. The Norwegian electric vehicle market today, the world leader in electric vehicle market share, saw 75% of all new vehicle sales come with a catch last month. In 2019, the Tesla Model 3 was not only the best-selling electric vehicle and it was not only the best-selling car in Norway – it was the best-selling passenger vehicle of any class or kind. In fact, it had more than 50% more sales than the No. 2 Volkswagen Golf, which included the fossil-fueled Golf as well as the e-Golf. The electric vehicle market share was around 3% in Norway in 2012, up from 56% in 2019 – and, as I just mentioned, it was 75% last month.

Electric vehicle market share from 2012 to 2019 in the 4 main countries that adopt electric vehicles. An interactive version can be found at the bottom of this article.

Abu Dhabi sold ~ 7% of Tesla [TSLA] the emiratis

When I published an article about it in January 2019, about a year after I got the information from someone very well placed in the UAE and confirmed with someone from Tesla who would certainly know this story, I thought that it was 100% CleanTechnica exclusive. I found nothing about it online. Apparently, however, with very narrow parameters set in Google, I could have collected a little more information about the story. Reuters published an article in April 2012 indicating that Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) had just sold its 7,297,139 shares of Tesla (TSLA). Although the company did not say how much it cost to buy the shares, and it was noted that the shares had arrived at TAQA through the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, it was said TAQA had made $ 113 million on the stock discharge. It was also mentioned that Abu Dhabi, through Abar Investments, was the main investor in Daimler, which at the time owned part of Tesla.

What was not noted in April 2012 was the backdrop for the sale. I was told the story in person when I visited the United Arab Emirates – or at least one version of the story. The person who told it to me told me a funny story. According to this person, it would come from an email from Elon Musk. He mentioned that there were some tough times ahead and said that even if investors were to hold on for a while (more than a year) while Tesla was going through a rough patch, everything would be fine. end if they stayed with Tesla. Abu Dhabi was apparently frightened and sold all of its shares in TSLA the next day. The person who told me the story said it was just plain obvious to high profile investors like this when receiving such an email. (Note that I did not see the email to judge how it was depicted.) Given Tesla’s provenance in early 2018 when the main source told me the story, it’s was a humorous (and, to me, shocking) story because of how much money Abu Dhabi could have made if it had kept the stock.

On April 5, 2012, Tesla stock was priced at $ 34.48. If you multiply that by 7,297,139 shares, the total would have been $ 251,605,352, or about $ 251.6 million. If you multiply that number by the closing price of $ 573 yesterday, it would be $ 4,181,260,647, or about $ 4.2 billion. Sensational.

I would like to think that if I were in these shoes, I would have kept the money, but there is probably a good chance that I would have sold at some point well below $ 573 if not in 2012. It is hard to think of it as hypothetical since we have no idea what they knew and what they didn’t know – and we can’t really get out of 2020 and ignore everything that has happened since 2012. Oh yes, in addition, I have never had so much money to spend.

Needless to say, the people who owned Tesla shares in 2012 and who held them did very well. Congratulations to you!

Tesla robots and vertical integration

Another story of Tesla in my Google search results was a MIT technology review story called “Building Tesla. Caption: “In its Silicon Valley electric car factory, Tesla is obsessed with details like making its own high-tech tools.” Hmm, it looks a bit like today.

Tesla’s propensity for vertical integration and technological innovation is now seen as a major advantage for the still young and relatively small automaker. Instead of a few technology and automotive outlets sitting in a corner talking about the newcomer to the neighborhood, much of the business, technology, automotive, environmental and even the world associates Tesla technological leadership and giant factories. Congratulation to MIT technology review Timothy Maher for reading tea leaves so well in early 2012.

Tesla home battery? Crazy idea?

Speaking of the early leaders covering Tesla, one of my former editors, Michael Graham Richard of TreeHugger, wrote about a first partnership between SolarCity and Tesla in which Tesla contributed to battery technology for home energy storage solutions. I must admit that the first Tesla battery was much less attractive than today. (Not that the Tesla Powerwall is a Monet.) I’m sure the specs were also much worse than the ones you get with today’s technology, but those details weren’t included in the article to make a quick comparison.

Presentation to Tesla investors

Tesla released an investor presentation in early 2012 that is fascinating to watch now. We could spend all day on the 29 pages and how it went. I’m just going to cover a few slides.

First of all, it’s hard not to laugh at the Roadster being seen as the “foundation for success”. Of course, it was the foundation of one direction. However, looking back from today, it looks more like a strange shaped stone that was a small part of the foundation of Tesla. In fact, depending on how you see it, Model 3 could still be considered part of the foundational phase of business development.

Later in the presentation, Tesla said the Model S, not yet in the hands of a single customer, was supposed to be an “exceptional” vehicle. Well, it didn’t go so well, did it?

I laugh! Indeed, Tesla’s Model S slides “redefining” what it meant to be a high-end sedan were as nostradamic as in this industry.

Tesla also discussed the futuristic model X, the expected annual sales of these models (20,000 for the S model and 10,000 to 15,000 for the X model), reservations for the S model, a possible “third generation platform at a lower price ”(which is essentially Model 3 and model Y), and more.

What’s most interesting about the slide set is that Tesla has almost precisely what he said he would do. He rolled out Model S, Model X, and Model 3 (as it is now called) at the base prices and specifications (or better) he planned in 2012. Despite the presentation of its game plan, Tesla’s vehicles have been unique and unmatched in the industry since their birth. And they seem to have been more revolutionary than even Elon Musk and others at Tesla thought.

Tesla Model S aerodynamics

Aerodynamics has long been an advantage that Tesla vehicles show over others. This makes cars more efficient, which can lead to longer range at full load, more functionality and / or better performance. SAE International had a report on the aerodynamics of the Model S in April 2012. You have to pay for the report, but here are a few paragraphs from the introductory article:

“Following aerodynamic optimization in terms of overall shape, the focus was on optimizing production parts, and each external component of the Model S was examined in detail in search of aerodynamic performance, because areas that may seem insignificant in isolation can quickly accumulate to have a substantial impact on the whole.

“The innovative architecture of the Model S platform allows a completely flat floor between the axles. This has substantial aerodynamic advantages, but also poses its own challenges in managing the faster airflow under the vehicle, particularly around the wheels. In addition, the Model S uses active multi-stage management of the cooling air intake and the vehicle ride height to maximize its aerodynamic performance over its entire operational envelope. This holistic approach to optimization has resulted in world class aerodynamic performance for the Model S and has a very substantial advantage over vehicle efficiency and overall range. “

Infiniti electric concept car, perhaps “Tesla’s worst nightmare”.

Or not.

Not even getting into Tesla’s mission and why a convincing electric Infiniti would be a victory, not a nightmare, for Tesla, the most notable point in this story Green Car Reports it’s just that it’s one of the thousands of “Tesla nightmare” or “Tesla killer” articles that have been written over the years about a fantastic future in which legacy automakers are developing electric cars that have a big step forward compared to Tesla and thus threaten the existence of Tesla. Well, I guess what makes sense in the title of this story is that the nightmares are not real, any more than the electric Infiniti. However, I don’t think Tesla has given up the sweat from the fear of vaporware anyway.

The concept of the vehicle was an Infiniti LE, with a touch of Nissan LEAF. The car would have been produced in Tennessee, could have had a base price of – oh, whatever, it doesn’t matter.

Tesla the Band

The YouTube videos that were highlighted for my time-limited Google search of “Tesla” told me that the most popular videos related to Tesla in April 2012 were videos from a 1980s rock group named You’re here. One is a video of one of the guitarists and a video is an interview with a few other guys from the band.

There was also a trailer for a 2014 film titled Tesla Free Energy. (Of course, the movie was about Nikola Tesla, not Tesla Motors.)

Small final pieces

The last thing on the first page of the search results was a Tesla blog article about the Model S cold weather testing. For some reason, however, what appeared in Google’s results was part of the Swiss version from Tesla’s blog. But we are now plunged into weeds, so let’s finish.

Here is this interactive sales graph that I mentioned above:

If it doesn’t show up on your phone, try a larger computer.

Do you want to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model S or Model X? Feel free to use my referral code to get free boost miles with your purchase: https://ts.la/zachary63404. You can also get a $ 250 discount on Tesla solar with this code.

Related: Tesla Flashbacks

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Keywords: abu dhabi, aerodynamics, Elon Musk, electric vehicle sales, infiniti, norway, Tesla, Tesla Abu Dhabi, Tesla batteries, history of Tesla, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, Tesla Norway, Tesla Rewind, Tesla sales , Tesla stock

About the Author

Zachary Shahan tries to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here CleanTechnica as a director, editor and CEO. Zach is recognized worldwide as an expert in electric vehicles, solar energy and energy storage. He has presented on clean technologies at conferences in India, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada and Curaçao.

Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] – after years of covering solar power and electric vehicles, he simply has great confidence in this business and feels like it is a good clean technology business to invest in. But it does not (explicitly or implicitly) offer any investment advice on Tesla or any other company.


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