Tesla Motors gets a lot of attention in the various investment and financial publications that I read on a regular basis. Many people think they have some great products and that their innovation could propel them to great things in the future. They seem committed to the idea of the electric car, while maintaining style and ingenuity that customers crave as well. The prices are pretty steep, but if you’re in the clientele that they’re marketing to, the idea is that price probably isn’t a huge obstacle. Even though all of these limitations make it obvious that they’ll never crank out millions of cars per year, many investors feel that they have great opportunity.
Personally, I don’t care. I will never invest in their stock. But, my reasoning is a bit more close to home than anything else.
In 2006, Tesla decided that they needed a presence here in Michigan, which even though it has lost a lot of clout, is still a huge center of the carmaking industry. They negotiated with a suburban city for a tax abatement, hired around 50 people, and set up shop with their Tesla Michigan Technical Center, with the doors opening in early 2007.
Less than 18 months later, it was all over with. They put up a blog post indicating that they were cutting back and would be closing up various locations, including the Michigan location. The big problem with that is they put up their blog post before management had a chance to let anybody know of their plans, so effectively, dozens of people found out they were going to lose their jobs via a…blog post.
This was right around the time that the economy was starting to crumble, and it was obvious that the domestic auto companies were in a big world of hurt. At the time, layoffs of hundreds of people were announced almost daily, so the Tesla news was barely a blip on the radar.
The thing was, the other companies stayed in Michigan. They’re still here. They came back. They’re stronger than ever.
Tesla is nowhere to be found. And, quite honestly, I’ll be happy if they keep it that way.
I know that many people think Michigan is not a destination state. I realize the reputation of Detroit is bad. I hear that the fact that the auto companies (two of them anyways) survived because of government intervention left a sour taste in peoples mouth. I get all that. But, I still love my state. I still have pride in where I’m from. And, while it was ‘only’ 40-50 jobs, and ‘only’ one little old 20,000 square foot building that was taken over and later vacated, it said a lot more than that.
In my mind, Tesla basically said ‘You’re not good enough’ to our state and its citizens. They said ‘We’re innovative but not innovative enough’ to make it here. They said that ‘they don’t believe’ in us. They never said those exact words, but I still read them loud and clear.
And for that reason, I will never support Tesla Motors in any way. I don’t care if everybody is driving them in 50 years. You won’t see one in my driveway. You won’t see it in my portfolio.
The domestic auto industry has come roaring back. The future is bright here. I doubt we’ll see Tesla even try to make a Michigan presence again anytime soon (they’d want another tax abatement, and what city in their right mind would grant that knowing their past history of committment?’
Too bad, Tesla. It could have been great here.