Grapeless man declares grapes sour

Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, who sold his TSLA shares at the IPO and now works in the garbage industry, is telling the press he doesn’t think Tesla will make it big. Is there any need to go further with this?

Next . . .

Credit Suisse says 2013 Model S’ are auctioning at around 90 percent of the original sticker price. This bodes well for Tesla’s leasing program. The company is charging for depreciation that isn’t happening. Every car company strives for that. It also suggests people see the value in owning a used car with very few internal organs to malfunction. Plus, it implies a broadening acceptance of EVs, which sets the stage for Tesla’s mass-market car. The Model III is going to taste sweet indeed, except to Ian Wright’s peculiar taste buds.

 

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Why writers and professors cannot run companies to save their lives

professor TeslaMondoElon’s allegedly headstrong managerial style is making hay for journalists lately. The WSJ wrote a recent piece about hardheaded Elon, and now Fortune magazine has written a “me too” piece, using professors as experts about how to run a company the proper way, not Elon’s way. The gist of both articles: Elon is a childish, obsessive-compulsive pain in the ass.

Let’s back up the camera and look at the products of which he is the architect:

1. Rockets — And not just regular ones, but a totally new kind.
2. Cars — And not just regular ones, but a totally new kind.

Neither leaves room for error. Flawed cars will break very quickly and publicly. Flawed rockets will break more quickly and publicly than that. And people may die. By contrast, writers who make mistakes can continue writing as if nothing happened, because nobody is reading anyway. And professors can make all the mistakes they want because the entire class is asleep.

Elon Musk is an alpha engineer who builds groundbreaking products that literally crash and burn if imperfect. So if he’s an obsessive-compulsive nut who isn’t well-tolerated by the mellow, that’s exactly the kind of maniac that Tesla and SpaceX need at the helm. And if he’s childish, even better. Some children dream of rockets, cars, alien planets and transport pods — and don’t let growing up ruin the wonder.

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Musk’s comments in Detroit

The Good, the bad and the Ugly TeslaMondoGood: Model 3 is targeted for $35k before incentives, not after. Model S continues to do well in North America and is gaining traction in Europe. Model X definitely coming this summer, and it’s a stunner.

Bad: China urbanites not embracing Tesla at desired rate due to perceived charging difficulties. Since China is the Holy Grail for Tesla, such struggles loom large.

Ugly: The Chevy Bolt. And the Volt is no picnic either.

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Hands off, GM. He’s ours.

Usain Bolt TeslaMondoGeneral Motors’ alleged Tesla-spanker, the 2017 Chevy “Bolt,” will not steal customers from Tesla. And why not? Many reasons.

1. GM is one giant leap behind Tesla. In fact, Tesla inspired GM to build the Volt, and is now apparently inspiring GM to build the Bolt. The Beatles inspired the Monkees, remember. Ok, so the Monkees outsold the Beatles in 1967. But if bands sold stock, which one would have made you rich and would still pay dividends to this day?

2. Tesla sells sci-fi excitement while GM sells hay bales and Bob Seger. Image matters. GM is old America while Tesla is new America. Even if GM does manage to make a pure EV that is both immune to range anxiety and affordable to the masses, that doesn’t mean it will be “compelling.” That’s Musk’s favorite descriptor for the Model III. He hasn’t defined the word, but let’s substitute “exciting.”

3. People don’t like incumbents — not when the contender brings positive and concrete change to things considered immutable, such as the way cars are built and sold. That kind of stuff wins votes. Ask Apple.

4. Like Usain Bolt, Elon Musk is simply better, stronger and faster than anyone in Detroit. Look at what Tesla has accomplished with the Model S in just two years. The newest version is far, far better than the original by every measure and continues to improve. Even the Roadster, long out of production, is still improving. During the same time frame, how has the Volt improved? Not at all. And so, considering Tesla has at least two more years to develop the Model III, and knowing what can happen during two years of Silicon Valley time with the best brains in the business sprinting at full throttle, it’s highly likely that Tesla’s offering will make the Bolt seem a decade old even if both debut simultaneously.

The runners are stretching their hamstrings and making signs of the cross as they prepare for this big mass-market EV race. May the fastest man win. No, make that the smartest, savviest and fastest. TeslaMondo’s money is on the Usain Bolt of the transportation world, and that’s E.M.

On the flip side, TeslaMondo does want to see Tesla lead a big segment instead of a small one, so more pure EV players are needed. As long as they remain a notch or two below Tesla in charging time, aesthetics and performance, it’s all good, because Tesla will remain the segment pioneer but benefit from broader EV acceptance — all part of TeslaMondo’s pie chart theory.

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Model 3 won’t look like other cars

Model 3 TeslaMondo

Elon Musk’s question/answer session on Reddit dwelled mostly on SpaceX projects, but those projects are beyond the scope of this blog. And mankind. For hungry Tesla fans, the session offered but a single corn kernel: Musk said Model 3 won’t look like other cars.

This seems to bolster TeslaMondo’s prediction that Tesla will:

1. Grow bolder and bolder with each model.
2. Have a ton of self-confidence when it’s time to pen Model 3 — enough to really push the envelope.
3. Surprise us, and have fun doing so.
4. Continue to make the price of gas irrelevant by offering much more than an ROI math equation.
5. One day produce a Model Q, named after the gadget guru from the Bond films.

Meanwhile, Toyota has released its fuel cell patents in an effort to make the auto world go Full Fool Cell and forget about crusty, dusty ol’ Tesla. Perhaps one day a company will create an exciting fuel cell vehicle. Until then, the post-ICE world will be terrorized by Tesla’s mute decapitators. They won’t look look like other cars, and with any luck, NOTHING LIKE THE TOYOTA I-SORE.

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Tesla’s latest forté: simple drag-racing

Model S drag race TeslaMondoIt’s yet another Tesla irony that the newfangled, tech-forward Model S is wowing the world using the most primitive trick in auto history: the simple drag race. Surely it’s not the only metric by which Tesla wins kudos, but it’s plenty fun to watch the Model S open a good old-fashioned can of whoop-ass as if it were a purple ‘Cuda in 1971 — albeit without the noise or blue smoke.

Turns out, drag racing began in Tesla’s home state. The first commercial drag strip opened in Santa Ana, California circa 1950, using a runway at John Wayne International Airport. In 1959, an airport expansion put an end to the fun. But soon after, the Lion’s Drag Strip at the Orange County Fairgrounds carried on the sport.

Going back even further, to the early days of the mass-produced automobile, people used California’s Mohave Desert for top speed runs. This quickly turned into competitive racing and gave birth to the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) — and the need for a more organized structure and more focused venue. Ergo, the airport mentioned above.

The origin of the term “drag race” is disputed, but it probably refers to the main “drag” in town, where spontaneous straight-line street racing tends to happen.

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Bloomberg assumes Chinese drive “clunkers”

China trade-ins TeslaMondoTesla is working with third-party used car brokers in China to ensure Chinese customers can trade their cars for credit toward a Model S. This sounds like Tesla’s AutoNation relationship here at home. It’s not big news.

The real news is that Bloomberg assumes Chinese people drive shitboxes. Look at the video title. And listen to the comment from Bloomberg’s Olivia Sterns at 0:37. She says, “I’m not too familiar with the used car market in China, but I’m pretty sure that most people’s trade-in cars are not really going to make a dent into the 100k price tag of a Model S.” Then the dude chimes in with, “If you can tow it, push it, drag it onto the lot, we will take it for five hundred dollars.”

If they made such an assumption about your home state, how would you feel? Probably offended. China should feel the same way. Watch the video before it gets pulled, and make a mental note of Bloomberg’s attitude toward the world’s biggest auto market. People who can afford a Model S are wealthy and probably drive pretty nice cars already. That’s the prevailing assumption — and a very sound one — here in the US. Shouldn’t it apply to China too? Apparently not.

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Roadster upgrade breaks many rules

Will Roadster owners soon be able to upgrade their cars? Tesla’s announcement today didn’t say anything about that* — only that the company has applied 2014 technology to its 2008 Roadster, with potent results. But even without details of any consumer upgrade, this retro attention to the Roadster violates many rules of the auto world.

First of all, automakers are supposed to stare straight ahead without glancing back. They focus solely on the next model, implying a short shelf life for existing products. By contrast, Tesla’s attention to erstwhile output implies a very long shelf life indeed for any Tesla product. Long-lasting freshness without BHT added.

Second, cars aren’t supposed to be Plug-N-Play. That’s the stuff PC peripherals, not Motor Trend. Again, the implication is a very long shelf life. You might become obsolete before your Tesla does.

Third, it’s generally accepted that Father Time has his way with your car, so its abilities degrade as the years go by. By contrast, Tesla’s products seem to strengthen with time. Musk has Father Time in a headlock and is giving him a harsh noogie to the cranium.

This all adds up to a fast-congealing Tesla ecosystem. The products use unique battery technology that upgrades with time, and a special charging network, and OTA updates, and Twitter relationships with the CEO, and smartphone integration that runs far deeper than other marques, and door-to-door service rangers. Owning a Tesla means being a “member” of something. It’s a culture. Maybe even a cult. But the Kool-Aid isn’t spiked.

* Update: Tesla apparently tells Autoblog that an upgrade package is coming next year.

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