Hold our beverages. We can build that.

Yesterday Ford associated itself with Tesla as much as possible, saying it has the capability to build a Model S and has successfully disassembled and reassembled one. A Lego moment! Moreover, Ford is considering using Tesla’s open-source patents to build a Ford Model S type thing.

All every startling, if you haven’t been reading much. Here are similar developments over the past few months. While nobody has actually taken steps to build a “Tesla,” the chit-chat is hardly new. A brief history of Tesla copycatting, both hostile and friendly:

Chapter 1: Hans Fisker, a designer hired by Tesla for its WhiteStar project, runs off with Tesla’s playbook and starts his own company. Tesla sues and loses. Ultimately, of course, Fisker loses. The company’s new owner, Lu Guanqiu, vows to battle Tesla, but with what weaponry?
Chapter 2: BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu says his company could easily crank out a Tesla.
Chapter 3: Tesla opens its patents and encourages imitation.
Chapter 4: Nissan and BMW nibble the bait.
Chapter 5: Mahindra says it might want in also.
Chapter 6: Ford says a Model S type vehicle fits its product philosophy — though one could argue that a company’s product philosophy is reflected in actual products, not fantasies. This would make Tesla the sole company whose product philosophy includes high-performance EVs with no gas-engine fig leaf.

Lest we forget, Tesla has already upgraded the Model S multiple times over, software and hardware, since this chatter began. Assuming Tesla continues this manic pace, any “clone” from another automaker will be severely outdated by the time it reaches production. A stale imitation would only solidify Tesla as the ultimate tech-forward car company, or, repeating TeslaMondo’s favorite analogy, the Beatles in a world of Monkees.

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Jerome Guillen opens up to German mag

Google Translate is far from perfect, but it’s good enough to get the gist of this interview with Manager Magazin Online. This is TeslaMondo’s summary, with emphasis added. The statements in bold typeface are provocative indeed, assuming Google Translate accurately captured what was actually said.

Magazine: Daimler just sold its TSLA shares. Surprised?
Guillen: Next question …
Magazine: Daimler wanted to expand its product collaboration beyond the B-Class, but Tesla declined. Why?
Guillen: Right now we’ve got more than enough on our own plate.
Magazine: Why did you leave your position as Business Innovation chief at Daimler, where you created the Car2Go program, for a little company like Tesla?
Guillen: I enjoyed Daimler, but Tesla offered me the job of producing the Model S. Sexy stuff. Risky, but sexy.
Magazine: There were many doubters.
Guillen: Oh, they still exist. They doubt Model X and our battery manufacturing goals. No worries. Musk set out to build the best car in the world, electric or otherwise, and we’ve delivered it.
Magazine: What about fuel cell technology?
Guillen: Our product is hot, limited only by capacity. Nuff said.
Magazine: But shouldn’t Tesla diversify powertrains or something, rather than banking on pure EVs only?
Guillen: Big companies can spread risk like that. We need to focus what we consider the best technology. Laptops don’t have a backup gas engine. Cars don’t need one either.
Magazine: But laptops don’t have to travel far. What about long road trips in an EV?
Guillen: We’re expanding the Supercharger network. People in France have witnessed plenty of tourists who drove in from Norway. No worries.
Magazine: What do you think of your competition? Any standouts?
Guillen: I’m impressed with BMW’s i3 and i8. The world needs more such innovation.
Magazine: You want more competition?
Guillen: Tesla would benefit from a broader EV acceptance, yes, and so would the planet.
Magazine: What if product demand sags before the Gigafactory is built?
Guillen: Don’t be ridiculous, dude. We expect to build 500k units per year.
Magazine: Time-frame?
Guillen: Maybe in 2020, maybe earlier. And any extra capacity will go toward the stationary energy storage market.
Magazine: So you’ll make newer-generation batteries?
Guillen: Batteries will be optimized. Musk has mentioned a cost savings of 30 percent, but that’s a very conservative estimate. Halving the cost should be possible.
Magazine: Where does Tesla stand in, say, 15 years?
Guillen: Can’t say for sure, but we’re going to be a very large company.
Magazine: As big as Volvo? BMW?
Guillen: We’ll see. It depends on the third model.
Magazine: You mean the one comparable to a BMW 3-series?
Guillen: Yes, this will boost our sales significantly. And then we’ll see what happens. One thing to remember: Tesla works very fast.

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What’s the over-under down under?

Australian wealth TeslaMondoTesla will soon open its first stores, service centers and superchargers in Australia, birthplace of the Green Party. The island also has some active EV advocacy. Government incentives? Not exactly Norway-caliber, as expressed here. This blogger makes a convincing case for Australia to eliminate its luxury car tax for zero-emissions vehicles, since it already rewards lower emissions anyway. But maybe it doesn’t matter. Australians are the richest people in the world.

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Amsterdam airport places bulk order

Tesla taxi fleet Amsterdam airport

Click the image to read the article. Oh, and here’s the first electric taxi in North America, apparently (?):

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LOL Michigan

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder TeslaMondo

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

A cabal of politicians and car dealers writhes in a steamy love pretzel in Michigan, each partner enthralled with each other’s sliminess. And GM is holding the camera, sporting wood all the while. Meanwhile, Daimler has sold its remaining shares of TSLA while downplaying the significance. Will Toyota follow?* Hope so. If we witness a dip to $200/share this winter, it’s time to load up on more TSLA and ride the falcon wings in 2015. This is so easy, it seems almost illegal. Hey, wait — never mind almost. Tesla IS illegal! Seems that Musk and gang are like the Dukes of Hazzard, justGeneral Lee Dukes of Hazzard Model S TeslaMondo making their way the only way they know how. But that’s just a little bit more than the law will allow. Maybe it’s time for a General Lee version of the Model S.

Better minds have prevailed elsewhere. A summary of pro-Tesla statements:

Federal Trade Commission
Bunch of law professors and economists
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling

*UPDATE, 10/23: Toyota does indeed sell some of its shares.

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Et tu Brute? Michigan stabs a friend

Elon Musk Captain America TeslaMondoDetroit is the ceremonial seat of American auto ingenuity, yes? Tesla is the latest example of that ingenuity, albeit based in another state, yes? Tesla wears the same red, white and blue team uniform, yes? Tesla even inspired GM to build the Volt, yes? All of this is lost on the Michigan auto dealer lobby, which obviously fears that Tesla’s factory-direct sales model could become a contagion and render the middleman obsolete. Dealers have found a friend in Senator Joe Hune, a wayward 34-year-old boy, who obligingly finagled some key wording into an unrelated bill that now sits on the governor’s desk. If the Gov passes it, Tesla is forbidden from selling or even showing its American auto ingenuity to Michigan residents.

TeslaMondo has already suggested an alternate approach for dealer groups: improve your game and ultimately make Tesla want to use dealers. Recent comments by Musk suggest it may eventually happen anyway.

UPDATE: Michigan governor signs the bill on 10/21, after GM voices support for the Tesla ban. And there was much rejoicing.

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Model S beats all in snowy grip test

Winter Warlock TeslaMondo

It’s all in the grip.

The rear-drive Model S beat out EV challengers from BMW, Nissan, Renault and MItsubishi in acceleration and road-holding, in a wintry-conditions road test by Germany’s Auto Bild magazine. When it comes to grip, the Model S has proven once again to be the Winter Warlock. Imagine when these publications get their hands on the dual-motor version.

 

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Rivals will indeed use Tesla’s patents

Tesla pie chart 2 TeslaMondo

BEFORE

Tesla pie chart 3

AFTER

In an interview with USA Today, Elon said some unnamed automakers have not only inquired about Tesla’s patents, but are going to use them. Time to look again at the TeslaMondo pie charts, which show the EV segment needs to grow if it expects to shoulder the burden of skepticism and justify expansion of EV infrastructure. Will patent-sharing dilute Tesla’s cachet? Nah. If Tesla just maintains its lead and continues to innovate, it’s going to vanguard a major subset of automobiles, akin to Toyota’s dominance in hybrids. So bring on the “me too” electric cars from GM et al. We all know the Beatles from the Monkees anyway.

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Tesla breaks another mold, with humor

Unknown Comic TeslaMondoNormal, sport and insane. Those are the three drive settings for the new P85D, the dual-motor super-Tesla unveiled last week. This means Tesla has broken yet another auto-industry rule that says every automaker has to take itself super-seriously and can’t inject a little humor into the product. Can you name any other instance of a car company joking with its drivers, even a little bit? Tesla’s “insane” setting is an underappreciated new approach in car building, and will likely inspire similar cheekiness among rivals.

Car companies do have a sense of humor, albeit nothing that affects the user interface of the car. Instead, the humor tends to take the form of press releases or strategic videos — that kind of thing. Some examples:

1. Fiat pranked VW on Google Maps by parking a Fiat outside VW offices when the camera car went by.
2. Ferrari thanks fans with amusing cartoon.
3. Toyota issues April Fools announcement that it will reintroduce the Tercel.
4. Mini says its new Cooper T will run on tea-leaf biofuel composite.
5. Acura says it’s the number one luxury brand — when listed alphabetically.
6. BMW issues the ultimate sleeping machine.
7. Nissan introduces the Limo Z.
8. An online bully tried to say Smart cars are delicate. How delicate? Even a bird plop would total the car. Well, Smart did some homework on that subject before responding.

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TSLA: Manic depression in full effect

Carrier deck TeslaMondo

MANIC: Carrier-deck acceleration of the dual-motor Model S. Bodes very well for the imminent Model X. Delivers on the promise of being “efficiency neutral,” and then some. Opens up more potential market, especially northern latitudes. Will drive trade-in business, followed by re-selling through Tesla’s fledgling certified used program. So Tesla will have a second chance to sell the same cars. Also manic is the company’s drive to push auto technology to the limit of legality, with the new autopilot system. Here’s a MUST-SEE video of Tesla autopilot in action. If only Chevy Chase had this in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

DEPRESSION: Early trader reaction. Disappointment that “D” was the only letter that surfaced last night, and that the “something else” was mere autopilot. And disappointment that a self-taught car didn’t tap-dance its way across the stage with a hat and cane whilst singing in tongues. Though we DID see a car lifted and manipulated by a robotic arm. Not good enough. Early reaction today points to a big drop, after a big run-up in the week preceding the “D” event last night. And more disappointment from recent Model S buyers who are wishin’ they stood in bed. The myriad upgrades to the car over the past two years apparently aren’t meaty enough. This “D” is the cutting-edgiest of edgy cars on the road. Barely legal, even. Makes a plain ol’ S seem like a mid-80s Chevy Malibu or something. TeslaMondo predicts many customer inquiries to Tesla about how to order a red “D” to glue onto the back of the car.

National Lampoon vacation asleep at the wheel scene

Autopilot beta testing.

What’s a TSLA long to do? Some simple deep-breathing exercises while waiting for the bipolar meds to take effect. In short, nothing. The Model X is coming. Then we’ll see some ups without downs.

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