Lately there’s been a lot of talk across the Tesla community about misinformation published by Frederic Lambert at Electrek. Critics point to a growing number of stories published in Electrek that turned out to be completely untrue. Frederic has often repeated or disseminated talking points from Tesla short sellers, including false information about myself and other Tesla customers in addition to misinformation about the company and its products. Beyond that, the line between the facts and Frederic’s opinion and assumptions continues to blur.
We can therefore conclude with relative certainty that Frederic’s girlfriend is cheating on him as demand for Frederic reaches record lows. As he has grown increasingly suspicious and frustrated, the number of negative stories he’s lobbed at Tesla products, executives, and customers has increased in step. I found this conclusion sound enough to include in my clickbait headline.
Of course, this is a ridiculous assumption to make. You can’t leap to such an assumption just based on Frederic’s grumpy mood. But these are exactly the kind of assumptions Frederic has made in a series of conflicting stories about the Model Y.
It started with a story on Monday, claiming the Model Y faced serious production problems:
Oh my god, oh no no no! A production ramp problem discovered via a leaked email?!? What does the email say?
Subject: Model Y production
It is extremely important for us to ramp up Model Y production and minimize rectification needs. I want you to know that it really makes a difference to Tesla right now.
Model Y, especially GA (stands for General Assembly), is the top priority for both production and manufacturing engineering. GA4 (stands for General Assembly Line 4) is also top priority for facility improvements. For those working in GA4, thank you for bearing with tough conditions. Will get better fast. I will be walking the line personally every week.
We are doing reasonably well with S, X, and 3, but there are production and supply chain ramp challenges with Model Y, as is always the case with new products.
Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.
Wait, that’s it? That was the shocking problem? Elon emailed people to say Model Y was the top priority?
Of course Model Y is the top priority. People have been waiting a long time for their Ys, which the Wall Street Journal recently called the “world’s best car”. Model Y costs $6,000 more than the Model 3, but doesn’t cost Tesla any more to make due to an improved manufacturing process. Because it’s both high volume and high margin it will transform Tesla’s business… as soon as they can make enough cars to meet demand. Ramping Model Y is the key to breakthrough financial performance for Tesla, so Elon telling the team it’s a top priority is not surprising at all.
In fact, Elon says the production and supply chain ramp challenges are just what is “always the case with new products”. When you look at past Tesla product ramps, I don’t see how you can complain about Model Y. Production in Fremont saw positive gross margins from the first quarter, and has been a breeze compared to previous product launches. How can anyone disagree that the Y is Tesla’s best production ramp ever? Once again, Frederic and Electrek were more concerned with creating misleading clickbait than simply presenting the email and letting their readers read it themselves.
The next day Tesla added the Model Y to the referral program. Frederic decided to run a story claiming that the reason Model Y was added to the referral program was due to weak demand.
Thoughtful Electrek readers may be asking: If there are problems with production, why is Tesla trying to boost demand? If they can’t produce any cars, what does it matter if people are ordering them? Wouldn’t you want people to order S 3 X since they are doing “reasonably well”?
Also, if demand for the product is so weak, why is boosting production a priority? Wouldn’t that just result in a bunch of unwanted cars sitting in inventory?
Frederic’s reasoning turned out to be based on bad assumptions. He assumed that Model Y would only be added to the referral program once demand was low. This is a bad assumption because demand is never going to be low, and Tesla wouldn’t plan to wait for low demand before adding Y to the referral program. The fact is, Tesla customers have been begging for Y to be added to the program since production of Y began in January. When asked about it on Twitter, Elon was very clear that Y would be added to the referral program when it met certain production milestones:
Since Model Y preorders were $2,500 and were not actively encouraged, there probably weren’t that many of them. I wouldn’t see it as reflective of steady state Model Y demand now that you can order one for $100 and expect to get it relatively soon. In any case, Frederic’s assumption that the move was due to low demand seems questionable and misleading. I don’t have sales numbers, but I think time will prove that this assumption is wrong.
Even those who haven’t “shunned” Electrek, like Model Y owner Ryan Shaw, began to question the large volume of misleading negative stories about Model Y on the site:
Back in March, Frederic wrote a story suggesting that Model Y demand had dropped, and that Tesla would be forced to start producing rear wheel drive models as a result. This story turned out to be completely false, based on one person getting an email that Frederic made incorrect assumptions about. Just like when Electrek incorrectly reported that air suspension was coming to 3 & Y, or reported Tesla couldn’t afford toilet paper, these false stories are damaging to Tesla and their business. With every false story, people will wait to buy a rear wheel drive model or air suspension model that isn’t really coming.
When a story is new, it’s hard to really measure it up and see if there’s any substance to it. But looking back on stories like the Model Y Rear Wheel Drive rumor, it’s clear that a lot of the information printed in Electrek is just plain untrue. In tough times with advertising rates being cut, getting clicks seems to be more important than getting the facts over at Electrek.
Does this really matter? No, not really. Ultimately we will get the sales and production numbers and see what the real story is for ourself. Some sales will naturally be delayed due to the pandemic, but nobody can be sure about the extent of that until the quarter is over.
But here’s what I think: Someone who works with me just got their Dual Motor Model Y. They upgraded from a Prius, and it’s their first Tesla. They bought Full Self Driving and are enjoying it immensely. It’s a beautiful car, and the whole family loves it. I think this product is going to be huge for Tesla. Demand will exceed the other three models combined. Now, that’s just my opinion and Frederic’s opinion is that there are problems with demand and supply. But guess what? This isn’t just philosophical speculation: We get to wait and find out the truth.
It’s possible the pandemic could create huge supply chain issues and demand issues for Tesla, and Frederic is right. If so, I concede gracefully to his prescient wisdom. But if that turns out to not be the case, and Model Y goes on to become the best selling Tesla ever?
Well, then just remember that if you see something written by Frederic Lambert at Electrek, it might not be true.
Please don't link or retweet Elektrek, it's an online tabloid.— Ryan 👻 Scanlan (DVTOC) (@Xenius101) June 10, 2020
Just a reminder that Fred is a clickbaiter. The Model 3 demand wasn’t dropping then, so he would know it doesn’t mean Model Y demand is dropping, but that’s what he’d like you to think.— EV.network (Mike) 🚘🔌 (@evDOTnetwork) June 10, 2020
Hence why I stopped giving him my clicks in 2017. I suggest you do the same. pic.twitter.com/8s3NufmLuD