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This week, it came to my attention when driving by my local Sheetz gas station (if you’re ever in the vicinity of one, get the Chicken Tender sub) that gas prices are getting low. Low in the sense that it is much lower than the typical $2.79 that I see on the sign. When they’re sitting at $2.09, it makes me interested in why, especially considering my county and, more specifically, my entire state of Pennsylvania is on a “Stay at Home” order currently. Prices are low, but nobody is driving. When I travel to my Dad’s house or to go on a hike at a local trail, my commute time is typically anywhere from 2-5 minutes quicker as I am not forced to deal with an excess amount of cars on the road.
Most would think that these low gas prices would entice some to buy that vehicle they’ve always wanted—the gas-guzzling truck, maybe that petrol-pounding sports car. Who knows, people want different things. But you’d think low prices would lead to higher petrol-powered sales, and it isn’t. Teslas continue to sell, and they’re selling in record numbers.
But what’s interesting to me is the fact that nobody is driving, and nobody is buying cars. Yet, the overwhelming appeal of low gas prices, combined with the new oh-so-brilliant rollback on emissions that I wrote about last week, is making cars cheaper. With people out of work, there are still people out there getting paid, and some could be interested in buying cars. After all, Tesla owners are, because the company just had its best Q1 yet.
With showrooms of the world’s most popular automakers becoming more and more bloated, inventories rising above what a building can contain, and salespeople out of work, the LA Times says that manufacturers and showroom managers alike are ready to cut a deal. No cars moving out of the building is costing some companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. Service is where dealerships make their money, and that is, in reality, how some are managing to survive.
Unless, of course, there was a way that a carmaker could have customers order vehicles over the internet or phone. Then, that vehicle could be built to the buyer’s exact specifications and delivered or picked up without ever needed to come in contact with another human being. Oh, wait. This sounds familiar!
Tesla’s contactless delivery process has helped the company continue delivering vehicles to customers. While COVID-19 shut down some stores and provided barriers for delivery in others, Tesla found a way to work around that. The process was documented on our site a few weeks ago, and it showed that the company’s deliveries could continue without human-to-human contact.
According to the same LA Times article I talked about earlier, a Chevy dealership is “delivering” cars to people’s houses in a safe way. I’ll give credit where credit is due, and that’s a great way to adapt to the changing world we live in.
But as gas vehicles should appeal to people now more than ever because of low fuel prices, there’s plenty of evidence that suggests the tide is changing in favor of electric forms of transportation.
Let’s think about this:
1. Dealerships and petrol car manufacturers require government assistance to stay open. These businesses are laying off massive amounts of people, and they can’t afford to pay them currently at all. Their buildings are shut down, some dealerships are not running currently, and people are not buying gas vehicles anyway.
2. Tesla just released its Q1 2020 numbers. Despite Giga Shanghai being closed for an extended period, and Fremont being closed for the final week of the first quarter (which is where the company seems to push out massive amounts of vehicles to maximize delivery numbers), the company still had its biggest Q1 as a company. Eighty-eight thousand four hundred vehicles delivered in total, well above Wall Street’s estimates.
It is fair to assume a decent amount of these 88,400 cars were delivered before things got dicey here in the United States. Even still, Tesla has a lot to be proud of here.
I think all of us expected a slow Q1, and we all thought it was understandable. Even if things would have been even more impressive if deliveries and production were not affected by COVID, there is still a lot to be happy about. The whole situation is quite impressive, and it seems that Tesla’s ability to adapt to situations has led to its mass-appeal to car buyers.
Join me next week as I go ‘Beyond the News’ and give you my take on the current state of the industry and beyond.
Could it be that COVID is helping Tesla in a way? Not only is the big picture of environmental sustainability being answered through the lack of cars on the road, but the numbers suggest Tesla vehicles are being bought while gas cars are not. How is it that a car company could post its most impressive first quarter amidst a situation that has done nothing but hurt every other company in the world? The proof is in the pudding, and Tesla’s adaptability seems to be appealing to car buyers.