Many people think that Tesla is a car maker that makes electric cars. Truth to be told is that they used to be that. Even their name used to be “TESLA Motors”, but now they are much more than only 4 wheels and a ton of batteries on top.
As of this writing they have the longest and more powerful charging network in the world. They have a massive presence in the USA, Canada, Mexico, part of China, all over Europe, and even in lost islands such as the Canary Islands or Iceland. Having this network was a big investment in the early years by buying plots and signing contracts with hotels and shopping malls. While other companies said to their customers “go and plug your car at home” they created a massive network not thinking of the cash in the short term, but thinking in the imagination given to the customer saying “you can drive your car wherever you want, and we will be there for you”.
They are at the moment only available for charging Teslas, but it wouldn't surprise me if they open it to every car maker giving preference and free charging to Tesla owners (once again). This way they will have the owners happy because they drive for free and have always an available spot, while they make money with every other car brand. Why isn't it open now? You have to win a big enough maker ownership before you open your network, especially when the war is now for the small-price EVs. If you open it now you may risk losing some people not willing to wait for their model Y, or some people more willing to drive an older brand such as Nissan.
They are also battery producers, as they are opening factories to produce only car-battery modules and packs. This way they are bringing the price of each kW down. We used to see it for around 1,160$/kWh on 2010 and in 2018 price was as low as 176$/kWh, with a price target of around 90$/kWh. This means that having a competitive price will make Tesla profit per car grow, but also being able to sell this packs to other companies that will have to buy from them in order to be price competitive. They will not kill the competence of battery making as they are already busy with other electronics products, but they will force other car manufacturers to rely on their battery technology. And this is not new, when they first start thinking about Tesla Motors the first car wasn't even thought of, they were developing the technology for the batteries, the charging and re-generating system before they thought about having a car. By the way, they didn't even design the first cars as they were modified Lotus Elise.
If one technology has made Tesla famous in the last years is no other than the autonomous driving one. This technology don't really only in a radar system, but also in a camera system that could with IA learn about objects meaning and giving the main focus to an updateable software that could be update via internet without the need of leaving your car in a workshop and without any extra costs (BMW you have to learn a lot…). Also making the Beta Version available for an extra cost makes it very attractive to many drivers willing to test-drive the future instead of waiting ten years. This “California style” system of Beta testing has proved for years a good way of having feedback for free or even winning money out of it, as many people want to be “the first to”. This technology is so advanced and precise that it has decreased the amount of accidents from 1/10.000 cars to 1/100.000, and they will for sure be selling it to other car makers in the future. This should not be surprising for anyone; this business model is already seen in, for example, in Apple where the display comes from Samsung.
We have seen how Tesla is a car maker (not that big, even if the market cap is out of order), a Charging Network, a battery maker, and an Autonomous Driving system. Last but not least we have to talk about the factories and the obsession of Elon Musk on making the production 100% robot controlled. This is not something casual but a very intelligent move for the future. While changing production lines between models of the same brand can take several months, making a robot learn how to assemble a new model (even from a different brand) could take minutes. Therefore they can produce as many models as they want, and in case they don't use their factories all the time (maybe because demand is falling, maybe because they spin their business model), they could produce cars for other companies interested in building electric vehicles (such as Google, Apple, Dyson…)
So the next time you think about investing in Tesla don't just see fancy futuristic electric cars, but 5 businesses disrupting their industries. Should you invest in them right now? My thoughts as for this writing is no, their price is way too high and these potential 5 industries are years from being 100% achieved, especially if the oil prices are under 60$ per barrel.