Sep 18, 2018

Tesla faces threats from every direction

Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

In addition to possible competition from Lucid, an electric vehicle startup that will receive more than $1 billion from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund (PIF), Tesla is still trying to repair damage from CEO Elon Musk's self-inflicted wounds.

Why it matters: Tesla is in one of the rockiest stretches of its 15-year history as it seeks to show consistent and well-executed Model 3 production increases and to make good on Musk's promise of imminent profitability.

Driving the news: Just hours after the PIF announced its investment into Lucid, there was news that a British cave diver who played a role in rescuing the Thai boys soccer team is suing Musk over his baseless accusations of pedophilia.

Threat level: The lawsuit underscores how Musk's erratic behavior is a distraction at a critical time. And this is compounded by the continued fallout from the going-private fiasco, which has brought an SEC inquiry over Musk's claim that he had "funding secured."

The intrigue: Via The Washington Post, "The lawsuit could amplify calls for Tesla to install a high-ranking executive or co-captain who could keep Musk’s more self-destructive instincts in check."

The big picture: On the competitive side, don't forget that Tesla is by far the biggest player in the U.S. EV market today and has lots of European growth potential.

  • Nonetheless, the Lucid news shows how the EV field is getting more crowded as startups and legacy automakers — like Audi — plan new models at various price points.

A couple of noteworthy pieces about Tesla's competitive position:

  • Over in Bloomberg's opinion section, Liam Denning writes, "Lucid’s funding is a reminder that Tesla has a target on its back." He notes that despite Tesla's powerful U.S. position, "operational snafus mean it isn’t capitalizing on the current window of opportunity the way it was supposed to."
  • Yes, but: Per MarketWatch: "Tesla Inc. faces no competition at present, and when it does it will be able to hold its own, analysts at Bernstein said in a note Monday. ... What should keep Tesla investors worried? Execution rather than competition, the Bernstein analysts said."

Go deeper: Potential Tesla rival Lucid Motors makes its move.

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Acting Navy head apologizes for calling fired captain "stupid"

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly apologized Monday for calling Capt. Brett Crozier, the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, "too naïve or too stupid" over his letter pleading for help following a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

The big picture: His apology came after President Trump told a news briefing earlier Monday he would "get involved" following a leak of Modly's remarks to the ship's crew on Crozier, who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, which were obtained by CNN.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,346,299 — Total deaths: 74,679 — Total recoveries: 276,636Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 367,507— Total deaths: 10,908 — Total recoveries: 19,598Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's High Court.

Why it matters: The cardinal became last year the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. But the High Court's ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

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