Why Tesla’s Restaurant Plan Is an Unprofitable Detour

Back in 2018, CEO Elon Musk shared in a Tweet that Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) will open an old-school drive-in restaurant featuring roller skates and famous movie clips in a California Supercharger station. Historically, Musk has made some bold claims online, and not all of his ideas have come to fruition…

For this reason, it made headlines when Tesla actually filed for trademarks in the restaurant services industry — over three years later.  Despite the hype, if Tesla goes through with a restaurant in its Supercharger network, investors need to carefully consider whether it is a worthwhile investment of capital and management energy.

The problem Tesla wants to solve

Tesla’s Supercharger network consists of 908 Supercharger stations  across the country, each with varying numbers of individual Superchargers. The problem is that charging a Tesla takes time, and the company wants to provide Tesla drivers with entertainment while they wait to hit the road again.

However, doing some digging on Tesla’s Supercharger map reveals some insight into this problem. In the U.S., not a single Supercharger can be found beyond a short walking distance to a restaurant, coffee shop, grocery store, or service plaza. Tesla has located most Supercharger stations near several of these establishments, and some even have direct access to shopping centers.

With Supercharger stations already providing Tesla drivers with options for spending their downtime, the Supercharger network does not translate to a surefire captive market for Tesla. However, Elon is set on bringing retro-style entertainment to the Supercharger network in hopes that it will nonetheless drive revenue and attract new customers.

Is this problem worth solving?

Before addressing this question, it’s important to understand all the charging options that Tesla drivers have. Supercharger stations, destination chargers, and at-home chargers all have different use cases, pros, and cons.

Supercharger stations are located in most major cities and along popular travel routes for high-speed charging during long-distance drives.  A standard Tesla Model 3 can…

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