Dealer chum concedes eventual defeat

Jim Ziegler TeslaMondoLongtime auto dealer consultant and speaker Jim Ziegler says Tesla will eventually sell legally in all 50 US states. But beyond that, Ziegler predicts other automakers will follow Tesla’s lead — just as dealers fear. Remember, Tesla never intended to dismantle the century-old franchise business model. It simply didn’t want to participate in it. So the Tesla battle is all about a precedent and nothing more. The nightmare scenario for dealers is that Tesla is cracking a dam and will soon allow a flood of similar factory-direct efforts. TeslaMondo readers already know the recent history on the subject and remember that Ford and GM made overtures in 1999 but had to retreat in defeat.

TeslaMondo has long predicted:

1. Another retail invasion by big OEMs.
2. Better profit margins as a result.
3. No improvement in typically lousy customer experience. A cattle house is a cattle house regardless of who pays the workers.

 

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Battery guru knows Model 3 is $50k

Gigafactory advice for TeslaDr. Menahem Anderman — a battery consultant whose client list includes everyone except Tesla, but who poses with Tesla batteries and will sell you his report about Tesla for $2,800 — has joined the Model 3 scoffathon. He says the make-or-break Tesla car will cost $50k, not $35k. Either that or its range will fall short the targeted 200 miles. No need to waste more column space here. All in all, Dr. Anderman, you’re just another brick in the wall.

Dr. Menahem Anderman TeslaMondoDr. Menahem Anderman TeslaMondo

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Musk’s WSJ interview takeaways

1. Positive cash flow expected Q3 2015, assuming good launch of Model X. This allows Gig funding from in-house dollars.
2. Significant product news coming beyond Model 3.
3. Big automakers still dragging their feet with EV development.
4. Regarding autonomy, Tesla is doing a lot of in-house “machine vision” research, not just buying from suppliers.
5. Model S waiting list still exists. More service centers needed before ramping sales.

Here’s the article.

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Car enthusiasts face driverless future

Driverless future TeslaMondo

Reliving childhood might be the only solace.

Engine thrum? Doomed. Exhaust note? Doomed. Manual shift? Moribund already. Paddle shifters don’t count.

But those losses are just a warmup for a purely driverless future, a notion punctuated in recent days by Musk predicting full autonomy in five years and Audi winning the first autonomous testing permit in California. In a few more years, cruise control will get a lot smarter — “super-cruise” if you will. Inevitably, in little increments, automobile self-awareness will flower until the machine no longer needs our hamfisted inputs at all, other than occasional reminders about destination. And those will most likely be spoken, not typed. So we’d better brush our teeth before we speak, lest the machine detect our bad breath and spray freshener at us. Uncouth organisms like us are but a nuisance in the future of motoring.

You realize what this means? It means car enthusiasts will soon be all revved up with no place to go. We’ll have to join our five-year-olds and play with little die-cast replicas on the kitchen table, or scuttle around the yard in Fisher Price sit-ins, or hit the amusement park for some go-karting, or play or video games and reminisce. The real car in the driveway will offer no joy. Wait — nobody will have a car. We’ll summon a car to the house and use it like a horizontal elevator. Maybe the retro models will offer a little steering wheel to play with and pedals to push, and they’ll make “vrooom” noises too.

Everyone here wants Tesla to succeed. Many of us are betting large sums of money on that hypothesis. But do we all want motoring to go bye-bye during our lifetime? Probably not. This poses a conflict. With any luck, it won’t play out until, um . . . we’re too old to drive anyway. Yes, that’s it. Let the children figure this out. And let BMW figure out a new slogan besides Ultimate Driving Machine.

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London livery service uses only Model S

A new company called Gliide is extending Tesla’s coolness to limo service. Customers book the service entirely via smartphone, and then proceed to “glide” around London without emitting nuttin’. Co-founder Mark Waters: ‘We’re at a time when air pollution is at an all time high, fuel costs are ever increasing and pressure is growing for transport to move toward a more sustainable format. However despite this pressure and with the availability of renewable energy and viable pure-electric vehicles, there have up until now been no providers offering such a service. Gliide offers customers and organisations not only a more memorable experience by providing a refined yet low-cost service but give people the chance to directly contribute towards the future modernisation of road-based transport.”

This regurgitates that ol’ rumor about a long-wheelbase Model S for the livery-loving Chinese market — remember? Supposedly it was coming in late 2014. Well, it’s getting late. And why only for China? With school back in session in the USA, kids are getting colds again. It would be nice to stick ‘em WAY in the back seat, out of sneeze range, without having to buy the third-row jump seats.

 

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Correction!

Tesla 9% correction TeslaMondoTesla suffered a 9% correction yesterday, for an incorrect reason. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas NEVER DID remove his $320 price target on Tesla, he confirmed yesterday by email. This contradicts innumerable stories yesterday claiming he had. Big errors like that warrant a correction, true? Especially when they spark a correction — perhaps a correct correction, but still.

Also incorrect is a headline in the WSJ today: “Nevada Gets Musked.” Never mind the use of Musk as a verb, which is patently incorrect. It also implies the Tesla CEO can exert huge manipulative power over the world. That’s incorrect. A quick read of recent events reveals he is utterly flaccid. Just a few days ago, he warned about his stock price. What happened? No correction. A few days later, Jonas puts up a similar caution flag. What happens? The herd that ignored Musk goes galumphing for the exits. So who wears the pants? But wait, if the press had accurately reported on Jonas, we might have avoided that correction. Ergo, it’s the press that truly wears the pants ’round these parts. Oh Rupert!

 

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Mass high court sides with Tesla

Tesla’s one Massachusetts store, in the Natick Mall, can continue to operate. A couple of dealerships and the state’s auto dealer association tried to bar Tesla from doing business in the Bay State long before it even opened the store. But today the Supreme Judicial Court rejected the very basis for the case, saying the Tesla foes are trying to use a law meant to protect franchisees from factory takeovers — and since Tesla has no franchises and isn’t trying to take over any, there’s nothing to talk about. Next . . .

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Two myths dispelled in one morning

Myth 1: Tesla does no marketing. In fact, it just hired June Jin to head China marketing.

June Jim TeslaMondoMyth 2: Morgan Stanley has four hooves and trips all over itself to boost Tesla. In fact, today MS analyst Adam “Jones” Jonas writes that while Tesla does indeed deserve a $320 price target, it’s not coming tomorrow, and we’re likely headed for a patch of turbulence in the short term. Contrary to reports in Seeking Alpha and The Street, Jonas does not back off his target. He does point out Tesla’s challenge in meeting explosive demand in China. That’s ironic, considering the marketing hire above, and it’s surely the lesser of the two evils, the greater being lax demand. He also asks an interesting rhetorical question about the distant future:

Adam Jonas TeslaMondo

It’s a macro concern, of course. Every automaker will be equally affected by a move toward cars as transport pods. We’ll be a lot older, and TSLA shareholders a lot richer, before the auto landscape really changes. And even in the long interim period, with autopilot systems giving way to autonomy, but before cars become a mere service, your car will still be YOUR car. Acceleration and handling might take a back seat, but range, style, connectivity, brand image, ride quality, convenience features and creature comforts will still play. Rather like a sit-in smartphone with wheels. Sounds like something Tesla, the tech innovation company that leaves elephantile automakers flatfooted, could build quite well. And while we’re talking about decades from now, Tesla the clean energy storage company will be printing money. Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel: “I’m pretty bullish that stuff can actually scale faster than the car market.”

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Ink barely dry, site work resumes

Lance Gilman, TRIC, TeslaMondoA Nevada TV station is tracking Tesla’s feverish pace. Lance Gilman, marketing director for the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, told a reporter Friday that as soon as Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the approval Thursday night, Tesla was basically ringing his doorbell. “They don’t let any grass grow under their feet. I had an email waiting for me, saying they wanted a meeting at 7:30 this morning to start the process.” Heavy equipment has resumed “Project Tiger.” Hey, the sign is still up, based on imagery in the news report. However, based on the size comparison on EComento, “tiger” hardly cuts it.

 

Gigafactory size TeslaMondo

 

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Vehicle-to-vehicle tech to see backlash?

V2V Technology TeslaMondoAssuming Tesla vanguards “autopilot” and ever-purer autonomous driving using V2V technology, Tesla may find itself on the front lines of yet another battle — this time from people who fear government tracking, terrorist hacking and myriad health hazards from radio-frequency overload.

The NHTSA is very bullish on V2V, and has just issued a big, thick, meaty update all about its efforts to bring it to market smoothly. It’s available here. Scroll down and click just below the big, yellow comment button. As with most government docs, even the executive summary needs a summary, so here is TeslaMondo’s summary of the NHTSA summary. We’ll get into the paranoia afterward.

1. This stuff could save your life. Just two of the myriad V2V components, Intersection Movement Assist and Left Turn Assist, would prevent 25,000 to 592,000 crashes and save 49 to 1,083 lives annually, if every vehicle had those features.

2. Cost? About $341 to $350 per vehicle in 2020, decreasing to $209 to $227 by 2058, as manufacturers gain experience producing this equipment (learning curve).

3. Experiments using SAE and IEEE protocols showed both were too vague, so new communication protocols are needed to ensure vehicles don’t get their signals crossed. GPS surely can help too, but exactly how is TBD.

4. Safety systems that focus on one particular scenario, such as left-turn assist, need to be better-tailored for that exact scenario. For example, current left-turn assist systems activate only when the driver uses the turn signal. What if he doesn’t?

5. The NHTSA does have the authority to mandate some V2V systems in new light vehicles but could also require they be retrofitted into commercial vehicles already in service.

6. Wi-Fi, cordless phones and V2V would share the same 5.8-5.9 GHz frequency. The FCC would have to get involved to make sure we’re not headed for a mess there.

7. The NHTSA has a lot of work to do in making sure every company offering V2V technology complies with a universal standard, or else some cars might not talk to each other properly.

8. What about end-of-life issues? Electronics do get old and die, and so older cars might not have a properly-functioning V2V system.

9. Tight security needs to govern every V2V transmission to ensure accuracy and protect from outside influence. Will a private entity step into this space? Probably, but “private entities have not committed to doing so to date.”

10. Lawyers. Remember them? Automakers are worried about increased liability. But the NHTSA can kick that can down the road a bit because the systems currently under consideration involve only warning the driver, not taking over the vehicle. Baby steps . . .

11. Privacy concerns. TeslaMondo had better post this one verbatim: “At the outset, readers should understand some very important points about the V2V system as currently contemplated by NHTSA. The system will not collect or store any data identifying individuals or individual vehicles, nor will it enable the government to do so. There is no data in the safety messages exchanged by vehicles or collected by the V2V system that could be used by law enforcement or private entities to personally identify a speeding or erratic driver. The system—operated by private entities—will not enable tracking through space and time of vehicles linked to specific owners or drivers. Third parties Weird Al tin foil hat TeslaMondoattempting to use the system to track a vehicle would find it extremely difficult to do so, particularly in light of far simpler and cheaper means available for that purpose. The system will not collect financial information, personal communications, or other information linked to individuals. The system will enroll V2V enabled vehicles automatically, without collecting any information that identifies specific vehicles or owners. The system will not provide a ‘pipe’ into the vehicle for extracting data. The system will enable NHTSA and motor vehicle manufacturers to find lots or production runs of potentially defective V2V equipment without use of VIN numbers or other information that could identify specific drivers or vehicles. Our research to date suggests that drivers may be concerned about the possibility that the government or a private entity could use V2V communications to track their daily activities and whereabouts. However, as designed, NHTSA is confident that the V2V system both achieves the agency’s safety goals and protects consumer privacy appropriately.”

12. Consumer acceptance. If people reject V2V, or don’t get system updates — and those might be MANDATED — we’re in trouble. Ergo, “The agency is exploring ways to make such downloads automatic, but more research is needed to understand this issue fully.”

13. Malicious attacks. “NHTSA acknowledges that privacy and system security are current and relevant areas of discussion and that some may have concerns about the vulnerability of this system to malicious attack. We understand those concerns and intend to explore the risks and safeguards fully in our in-depth analysis of system security. Recently, for example, we have been in contact with DARPA bout possible protections against software vulnerabilities.” DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Now, back to the problem. The NHTSA has a brand new comment section for V2V technology. So far, almost every commenter is scared of it. Are we seeing a mere vocal minority, or the start of a bigger backlash over motorist civil liberties etc., with Tesla stuck in the middle — clowns to the left and jokers to the right? A quick Google search will yield all manner of nail-biting over V2V in the blogosphere. Again, just a fringe crew, or is this the start of big turbulence?

Or is Tesla developing something totally proprietary, akin to its Supercharging network, and therefore outside the scope of any brewing pushback against the feds? But If so, wouldn’t that pose an “island” problem, given the need for consistency as stressed by the NHTSA? We’ll soon find out. If you consider three years “soon.”

Also, have you ever driven in Manhattan? Ever merged into the Holland Tunnel from NJ? TeslaMondo will hereby declare that V2Teslamondo Indian intersectionV technology would cause paralysis in some situations, so it needs to be user-defeatable. Sometimes you have to use YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT or else you’ll never get home. And we’re just talking about the USA. What about V2V in other nations? Say, India for example. See that GIF? Some driving is best left to the human brain.

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