Will Tesla Ever Make Money?

creating a product from scratch that's designed to disrupt a market

I'll let you in on a trade secret. Every vehicle that looks new and pretty on its big reveal, was designed just for this reason and started from scratch just like Tesla does. The difference is that every other OEM does in 10 months what takes Tesla years. They do this routinely in fact, about once every three to four years for every model they produce. They also do pretty extensive research to see what people not only want, but what they're willing to pay extra for. It's not about what people want to own, its about what people want to buy. Tesla models require about the same amount of R&D that the average new model requires. Maybe they have a disproportionately large future R&D sector, but they need the same chassis, the same wheels, the same interior (albeit with a big fancy touchscreen), and the same government regulations. And I don't know if you've ever looked under the hood of a new gas powered engine, but they're significantly more complex than even Tesla's AC motor setup. When they redesign one of those, it requires more engineering than it takes to redesign an entire electric vehicle.

Tesla is... completely unique to the automotive industry itself

It is very unique in that it is literally the only OEM in the US market that has interest in mass producing vehicles that isn't doing well right now. Sometimes being "unique" is not a good thing. When your competition is succeeding pulling a profit and you are not, then you're doing something wrong. What else is unique? A big screen on the inside? Door handles that retract? It can be done by a profitable company. Everyone has an electric car. Most OEMs don't build them to be profitable, they do it do maintain a high fleet MPG average. I was involved in designing a couple of these cars myself. Even as disingenuous models, they still put out models in a decent timeframe and avoid keeping the company from putting up poor profits.

/r/cars Thread Parent Link - bloomberg.com