Tesla Motors has just stunned the carmaking world by taking 325,000 orders for its new Model 3 affordable electric vehicle within days of unveiling the prototype at its Los Angeles design studio. That is certainly an impressive performance especially from a carmaker that has sold only 100,000 cars in its entire 13-year history.
特斯拉汽车(Tesla Motors)在其洛杉矶设计工作室亮相Model 3的原型之后的几天里，这款新的经济实用型电动车便获得了32.5万份订单，震撼汽车制造业。这种表现当然是令人钦佩的尤其是对一家在其全部13年历史中销量仅达10万辆的车企而言。
But, aside from demonstrating the interest that exists in Teslas undeniably glamorous electric vehicle technology, what precisely has the US companys hard driving chief executive, Elon Musk, achieved?
Lets start with what he hasnt done, which is to strike a very firm contract with those interested parties. A glance at Teslas website shows the relatively loose commitment they have entered into: paying a $1,000 upfront deposit to guarantee a slot on a waiting list. But this is not binding, and can be cancelled if the would-be customer desires.
Nor is there any fixed date by which Tesla must actually come up with a vehicle. While Mr Musk hopes to commence deliveries by the autumn of 2017, he doesnt have to meet that deadline if the car is not ready. That, it should be noted, is a possibility. Teslas latest model the Model X was more than two years delayed.
Even the final price is not fixed. Mr Musk may talk about a $35,000 vehicle, but he is too canny to pin himself down until he knows how much it will cost to produce one.
That said, the customers main protection is Teslas own very public commitment to sell the base model at somewhere around this figure. Jack up the sticker price too much and the cars affordable tag (and sales) will be lost.
What about using the reservations as a source of capital to complete the project? After all, it is not uncommon for companies to raise capital from would-be buyers.
Property developers, for instance, sell apartments off plan and use the proceeds to finance their construction. Then there are crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter. Essentially, these allow people to pre-buy goods that they like the look of. Entrepreneurs then go out and see if they can be made profitably.
However, the problem with Teslas reservation system is that it does not deliver much of a capital injection. First, the $1,000 per head deposit is so small that it does not bring in much money. While $325m is not exactly loose change, it is a drop in the ocean when your capital expenditure requirements run to some $11bn over the next five years.
Second, the pre-orders are not just cancellable; the deposits that accompany them are also refundable. So the situation is more akin to the would-be customers granting Tesla an interest-free overdraft. Were the development phase to go badly, or prospective customers to lose enthusiasm, it is quite possible that a substantial chunk of that $325m could be yanked.
All it might take is a big glitch in the Model 3s development, or the emergence of a sexier vehicle produced by one of Teslas rivals say a General Motors or Toyota which have now been alerted to the possibility of mass market electric car sales.
这一局面的出现，只需要Model 3的开发中出现重大失误，或者特斯拉的对手之一比如通用汽车(General Motors)或丰田(Toyota)推出一款更吸引人的汽车。如今，特斯拉的对手们已注意到了大众市场电动车销量的潜力。
And even if it is delivered on time, the Model 3s maths may not stack up for some buyers at the $35,000 base price. Some may be depending on federal subsidies worth $7,500 to buyers of electric vehicles. But these are cut back quite sharply after a manufacturer has produced more than 200,000 cars.
Tesla will also face plenty of practical questions about building the Model 3. No one can be sure yet whether battery costs can be reduced sufficiently to make the cars low price tag viable. Then theres the question of whether Mr Musk can produce the vehicle in the sort of volumes that his now-groaning order book assumes.
But, no matter: that is not the point of what Tesla calls the single biggest one week launch of any product ever. Its real purpose was to create a stock market event to encourage investors to focus on the scale of the potential opportunity. With the company still spending heavily on capex, and unlikely to generate significant profits until after 2020, it is these people who must ultimately foot the bill to fulfil Mr Musks dream.
但这没关系：Model 3的发布意义不在这里（特斯拉称，Model 3的发布是任何产品有史以来单周预订规模最大的一次发布）。这一发布的真实意图，在于创建一个股市事件，鼓励投资者关注这一潜在机会的规模。由于这家公司的资本支出仍很高，并且直到2020年之后才能产生显著盈利，最终必须为马斯克实现梦想的费用买单的正是股市上的这些投资者。
Whether they continue to do so remains a question of faith rather than rational analysis. Teslas current market capitalisation of $32bn is almost three quarters that of General Motors, which produces 10m cars (including a competing electric car) against its annual 50,000.
Keeping that stock market spigot open will take not just excellent products and flawless execution in future. It will require all of the undoubted showman skills that Mr Musk has at his command.