Vermont is known for its rough winters, with 300 inches of snow not uncommon in my area over any given winter. Much to the chagrin of electric-car enthusiasts, cold weather has a tendency to take a major toll on the performance of an electric car, making the batteries far less efficient. I once briefly looked at buying a Nissan Leaf, months before its release, and the company outright refused to even consider selling one to me for exactly that reason (not that I would have actually bought one, for the much simpler reason that it turned out to be such a sad little car – more on that later). All this chatter about the car – which I have until 2014 to change my mind on, as the company isn’t even delivering them until next year, and the deposit is refundable – has crossed over with my investing life as well. As I browse the news about technology companies, I see a new analysis on the publicly traded, fledgling electric-car company at least daily. The level of noise has increased appreciably: first, following the delivery of lots of Model S sedans earlier this year; and second, on the news that Tesla has now made it around the bend. It’s not uncommon for the stock (which was trading at about $30/share just weeks ago) to see price targets flung about of $500/share or even $1,000/share. Between that and the immense percentage of the shares outstanding that are short – nearly half the float (47%), with a full 23 days to cover at last count – the stock seems to be taking off like a rocket ship of late, flying past $50 per share. It’s a short-term trader’s dream: that kind of volume with that kind of volatility and a boatload of squeezable shorts to milk. But I’m not a member of the day-trading set, so… All of this left me wondering: Just how much is Tesla, the company, really worth? Which is exactly what I will explore below (if you want to skip right to the numbers, click here to jump to the break. Before I go on to that exercise, let me provide some context on my mindset headed in to this adventure. After all, a guy who just put a down payment on a car is now going to tell you what he does and doesn’t like about that company’s stock – is there an agenda here? You will of course judge for yourself, but I would say “no.” Despite my early adopter move to grab one of the first electric SUVs – my one bow to practicality in this adventure, as I have to cart around a couple kids and their many accessories through a slippery winter, and the Model S sedan is just not going to cut it, even as a second car (which it would be) – I would not classify myself as a “believer.” I can barely be bothered to sort the recycling from the trash; I don’t compost (much to the chagrin of my seven-year old son Sam, who seems to be getting a heavy dose of greenwashing in his second-grade curriculum); and I have no problem driving all around kingdom come in my current monstrosity of an SUV, which was probably an overreaction to ridding myself of the cramped hybrid that preceded it. So what drove me (pun intended) to take the somewhat illogical step forward and write a check? Simply put, it’s a damn nice car. One privilege of my life is that I get to try all sorts of crazy new gadgets, from cellphones to laptops and tablets to wacky prototypes of wearable computers and 3D laser scanners. That list has also included an occasional brush with a Tesla. I’m not considering an electric car because of the environment. I don’t think the internal combustion engine is inherently bad; nor do I have any illusions that my electric car – filled with toxic batteries and sucking power from coal plants and aging nuclear reactors – somehow magically has zero impact on the world. I’d driven one of the first roadsters off the lot when Elon Musk came up to meet with a few of us at Microsoft in the early days. The car – barebones in a way that somewhat resembled a Lotus Elise – wasn’t exactly a pleasure craft. But it drove like strapping yourself to a silent rocket. Later, I was able to preview an early Tesla Model S prototype at a New York-area event. Both times I was thoroughly impressed with the cars (and with the company’s founder, a less-polished version of Richard Branson) in my brief encounters. After observing the reception the Model S got in the controversial New York Times double review and the big endorsement in Motor Trend, plus hearing a few owners gush about their newly delivered cars in the media, I had to seek out the final version and see for myself how it turned out. All I can say is, “Fantastic.” The Telsa S is as well built as any luxury car on the market, outside maybe of a Rolls Royce or Bentley. But it’s certainly as nice as a high-end Lexus or Mercedes. It’s simple to charge up. For someone willing to put out a little pocket change (relative to the price of the car) on a better charger and some new wires in the garage, it charges up rapidly enough to allow me to use it every day of the week. For the occasional long-term road trip, I’ve got another car already. It’s just plain fun. The car is a blast to drive, a huge plus in my book. The informatics are top notch. All in all, it gives me the kind of joy that few other cars can provide today. It’s a great car. I am an admitted, old-fashioned American lover of all things car. And so I decided to raise my hand for one. Now I find myself 3,268th in line for a vehicle that won’t even be delivered until next year. You won’t find me doing that for an Acura or a Cadillac, that’s for sure. And that says mounds about what lies ahead for Tesla. In reality, there is only a slim chance I will go forward with the purchase – all that talk about practicality will likely catch up with me. But in the meantime, there is much to be discussed about the future of the automobile and its most controversial new player. Sincerely, Alex Daley Chief Technology Investment Strategist Casey Research A few weeks ago, I put a deposit down on a new car: an electric Tesla Model X. With any other car – short maybe a Lamborghini Veneno – that revelation would hardly elicit a second thought. But insert “Tesla” in the sentence and suddenly a lot more people have a lot more to say. To some, it’s positively exciting – another of a thousand cuts to be delivered to the smog-spewing engines of the last century. To others, it provokes an exasperated sigh, as they see yet another green crusader dump money into a hopelessly impractical invention. Of course, when you live in an ultra-cold state like Vermont – and in a hilly, snowy, pothole-laden, dirt-road-filled ski town, to boot – as I have the past few years, those reactions are all the more justified on both sides. Vermont is, after all, renowned for its unspoiled natural beauty, and is home to many a protective soul set on defending Mother Earth even if it means biking to work in a blizzard. I do not count myself among them, if we’re being honest, but discussing my potential next car seems to elicit a great deal of praise.