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Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Becomes a Model for Ford Motor Company

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Model X Founders Edition Presentation

Tesla Motors Inc may have one more rival in making. A report by Bloomberg claims that Ford spent around $200k to get it’s hands on one of the first Tesla Model X SUVs off the line. This comes as a surprise as recently it was reported that Ford was not planning to get into the high-range electric vehicle game right now.

Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Model X Founders Edition Presentation

How Ford got hold of Tesla Model X?

Last month, Ford allegedly dropped $199,950 on a Founders Series white Model X. Bloomberg got it’s hands on the vehicle registration paperwork that proves that the car is VIN 64, and was purchased from Corporate Auto of Auburn Hills, Michigan by Ford. Tesla has been seen around the Detroit area with manufacturer’s plates, says the news site.

Originally, Wayne Skiles, a coin dealer in California who participated in Tesla’s referral program bought the limited edition car (less than 100). The referral program asked Tesla owners to help convicne ten friends to buy a Model S to pick up a Founder’s Edition Model X. And that’s what Skiles did, and immediately flipped the Model X for a profit. The car ultimately landed in Michigan and later in the hands of Ford.

Ford says its for testing. But is it true?

So, why did Ford need to get its hand Tesla’s electric minivan, and more importantly, why did they need it so quickly that they were willing to shell out over $50,000 over sticker price?  The answer is pretty simple…

“It is a common industry practice among many automakers to buy production vehicles for testing as soon as they are released… Sometimes, this means automakers pay more than sticker price to acquire them as quickly as possible,” Ford said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Other possible reasons

Ford probably wants to begin engineering research on the Model X as soon as possible, says Bloomberg. Researching competitive vehicles in the auto industry is referred to as competitive benchmarking, a different word for reverse engineering.

But, in the electric car race, Ford has no immediate plans to follow Tesla Motors Inc , GM or Nissan, notes a recent report from Automotive News.

“Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering, said the 100-mile range coming this fall in the 2017 Focus Electric — up from the 2016 model’s 76 miles — is enough distance to cover the daily commute of most drivers,” the report said.

If Ford is not building its own electric vehicle, then why is it benchmarking? What is Ford actually looking for?

Maybe Ford is just benchmarking the amazing packaging of Tesla. Since, the Model X has different packaging restraints than a gasoline-powered vehicle, so using a Model X packaging research appears a bit odd unless the Ford is actually making its own EV.

Maybe, the reason behind this is something else, perhaps it is aerodynamics. Electric vehicles do not have higher cooling demands than the combustion engine-powered vehicles, so they have significantly lower drag characteristics. Still, Tesla Motors Inc is known for designing the slipperiest cars in the industry.  Some of the aerodynamic enablers found on the Model X could be copied on a gasoline vehicle.

Still, nothing can be said for sure, very few people know what Ford is actually up to. Other major automaker, such as Toyota and GM may also be among the early buyers of the Model X. As automakers race to meet a federal mandate to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, they are looking for different ways to make their SUVs more fuel efficient, highly profitable.

At 10.10 am EDT, Tesla shares were down 0.72% at $248. Year to date, the stock is up over 4% while in the last one-year, it is up almost 19%.

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Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both marketing and Finance side. He has work as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, playing PC games and cricket.

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