To build the impossible

Muppet critics TeslaMondo

“The question is, will they do something crazy with Model III? No, the question is, will we LIVE to see Model III?”

You know this plot by now:

Act 1. Automaker pulls open the curtain and shows a stunning concept with very risky styling, unprecedented gee-wiz features and mammoth performance specs.
Act 2. The curtains close. The automaker goes to work on making it real. The audience is silent, rapt. Could it be? Could it be?
Act 3. The curtain re-opens. The audience moans, shrugs and files out of the theater. Sure enough, the automaker lost its balls and built just another variation of whatever’s trendy. Gone are the risky styling, unprecedented gee-wiz features and mammoth performance specs. It’s yet another me-too-mobile.

With that in mind, let’s look at the latest headlines. They question the Model X’s long incubation period behind the curtain, and its price tag, and the rationale behind the falcon wings, and the validity of the bio-defense thing, and the necessity of the beyond-panoramic windshield, and the wisdom of green-lighting such a wild n’ crazy vehicle.

Tesla’s own CEO asks aloud if perhaps he went off the deep end in a wayward mission to engineer the un-engineerable. He didn’t phrase it that way, but too bad. That’s how TeslaMondo heard it. And now TeslaMondo will answer that question:

Yes, you probably did spend too much time, money and energy in a Quixotic effort to build the impossible. But you built it. And as a result, for once in our lives, the vehicle in Act 3 made the audience jump up and roar. So add this to the growing list of Tesla firsts: You took a sacrosanct plot and lit a match to it, and we’re beyond grateful. Boy do we need you.


“Tesla” and “ad” should remain oxymoronic

Tesla ad TeslaMondo

Tesla’s lack of traditional advertising is its best advertisement. But amateurs create Tesla ads anyway. The motive is right-on, and the results could pass for pro product. Some obviously required a lot of time and energy, and money. Have they boosted sales? Who knows. Maybe they have. But TeslaMondo believes that Tesla’s maverick image requires something really radical. And unfortunately, the most radical of all ad campaigns is . . . no ads at all.

Attempt Number One
Attempt Number Two
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Attempt Number Ten
Attempt Number Eleven


Tesla is Teflon to gas prices

As pointed out here multiple times, Tesla does not primarily sell “fuel” economy, ROI formulae, greenness or any such cerebral fare. First and foremost, it sells dirty ol’ excitement. This new chart at IBT (scroll down) reminds us of something that even a vocal Tesla “cheerleader,” Adam Jonas from Morgan Stanley, sometimes forgets: Tesla is Teflon to the price of crude, and that won’t change with the III.

Tesla immune to gas prices TeslaMondoResponding to commenters:

Does Tesla have an unfair advantage in this comparison? Is the Model S somehow fresher while the others are lame-duck designs that are winding down production in preparation for new and improved replacements? Well, let’s compare shelf time:

Model S debut: June 2012
Chevy Volt debut: December 2010
Nissan Leaf debut: December 2010
Ford Fusion Energi debut: January 2013
Plug-in Prius debut: January 2012

The Model S is about the same age as the others. But Tesla does indeed have an advantage in product freshness. Tesla has improved the Model S’ physical and mental abilities multiple times on the fly — even over the air — instead of subjecting itself, and its customers, to the obsolescence cycle. Is that unfair? No. Same playing field. One winner.

Here’s hoping all of the players make progress in their next iterations.


Videos: Model X cargo trough and more

Model X rear cargo area TeslaMondo

Skip to :50 to see a deep cargo well that rivals some minivans. SUVs don’t offer this. And we’re not even mentioning the frunk.

Model X frunk TeslaMondo

On second thought, we ARE mentioning the frunk.

Tesla Model X six-row configuration TeslaMondo

Six-passenger config with center console.

Cell phone auto-holster TeslaMondo

This “funnels” your phone to that jack waiting at the center bottom.


The Riddler drops two hints

Musk on Twitter:

Musk Tweets III and Y, falcon doors TeslaMondo

The Bat Computer says the III is the sedan, and the “more adventurous” version is the Y, a crossover, with falcon wings. Hey, the R/D is already done for those wild n’ crazy doors. Why not get more mileage out of the technology? Yes, very clever Mr. Riddler. The S and X will each have a younger sibling, so to speak, and you will finally complete the word S-E-X-Y in your product lineup — all part of your twisted sense of humor.

So the Y will have three rows, eh, to justify the falcon doors? Or maybe that’s what you want us to think . . .

Riddler TeslaMondo

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X-citement* spreads to Model S

Want a Tesla but can’t wait a year for an X? Order an S. Apparently that’s the default MO for a lot of customers, because Tesla witnessed a spike in S orders after the X reveal on Tuesday. Alternate theory, as pointed out by a commenter below: People pulled the trigger on their S order after something about the X rubbed them wrong. Maybe the second row seats’ inability to fold flat? That seems to be the main gripe in forum chatter, to the extent there’s any griping at all. Is China griping about it? Europe? Probably not.

BTW, where’s the X-tacy* in the stock market? It’s likely holding off until the Model X becomes a little more real. Yes, something very exciting flashed before the world stage this week, but it’s still science fiction. Until Tesla shows it can build it en masse, quickly, and without messing it up, it seems the cork will stay on Wall Street’s champagne bottle. The cork might pop right about the time Model III doubles the fizz with its own debut early next year.

Until then, the handful of people with a Model X could easily pay for the vehicle by renting it to the press. Say — why didn’t TeslaMondo think of that totally X-cellent* ploy? It could own a fully paid-off Model X already.

*These X-words will soon annoy the crap out of everyone, so after this post, TeslaMondo will avoid them. Will Elon match this pledge?


Did you catch that?

Stand-in for Sergey TeslaMondo

At 27:43 you’ll hear Elon greet this woman by asking, “Stand-in for Sergey?” That’s a reference to his friend, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, according to Bloomberg. Apparently that Model X belongs to him.

Ultrasonic sensor TeslaMondo

At 20:00, you’ll hear Elon say dryly, “We actually developed a new ultra-sonic sensor that’s able to do sonar through metal.” Awesome stuff. Quintessential Tesla! If presented by an experienced, glib showman, this crucial feature, which makes the falcon doors work without ugly exposed sensors, would have gotten a more dramatic build-up and applause trigger. But presented by an engineer, it received little more than glazed silence from the audience. In fact, it required a second explanation. And that head-scratching reaction foreshadowed stock market response today. A bombshell of a vehicle somehow made a tiny splash. It’s going to take a while to digest this totally alien transportation device and its significance. Last year, the dual-motor powertrain unveiling actually cratered TSLA stock until the importance of the “D” finally sank in. At least the X eked out a green response of 0.71% from the market.

Ghost chauffeur TeslaMondo

At 2:05, the ghost chauffeur apparently commits a faux pas and re-opens the driver’s door for no good reason. TeslaMondo thinks this auto-presenting door feature may prove useful for the rare moments when you have both hands full, but will end up getting shut off by most owners after a few oopsies like this. Gotta be sure your car is, in fact, SHUT when you want it shut.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 6.41.17 AM

At 14:50, when Elon powers the second-row seats forward, the driver’s seat tilts forward. Does the bottom slide forward too? Can’t tell. Will the same happen on the more relevant curb side of the vehicle, where people SHOULD access the vehicle most often?

Jurvetson Model X TeslaMondo

At 28:45, that’s Steve Jurvetson taking delivery of VIN #2. He also happens to own the first production Model S. Later he posted a couple of videos from within the X. One shows raindrops cascading UP and OVER the windshield.

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Salem's Lot TeslaMondoOk then, Tesla is here to stay. You can’t destroy this many metrics and remain a niche player for long. Best crash performance. Best rollover rating. Best air quality including a medical-grade bio-defense mode. Best windshield. Best ingress/egress. Best cool factor. Best acceleration. Best green cred.

Not the most fluid or thorough presentation, but true engineers aren’t polished politicians or actors. They’re real. And today’s presentation confirms that Tesla is, unfortunately for big auto and big oil, a very real problem. How will VW execs, for example, answer the engineering tour de force we saw tonight? With pretty drawings of fantasy cars, of course — assuming they’re allowed to doodle in prison.


* No nose cone. Good riddance! Time for EVs to stop the masquerade and embrace their true grill-lessness. Hope the nose paint job can handle the inevitable sandblasting on freeways. Tesla should offer a clear bra as factory option.
* “Monopost” second-row seats offer nearly infinite adjustment, plus storage underneath.
* A ghost chauffeur opens and closes the driver’s door for you. He’s visible only in infrared light and resembles Alfred from Batman.
* The falcon doors handle tight flank space better than normal doors. Bonus: they shut themselves all the way, in non-ghetto fashion! So now we can all be jelly.


* Tesla has released the most interesting vehicle in a very long time. Let the fun experimentation begin. Everyone is going to throw perfect-storm predicaments at the falcon wings to see how they respond. Will someone find a scenario Tesla hasn’t anticipated? Will an OTA update solve it? Will someone actually put a Model X on its roof to see if the doors can right the turtle, so to  speak? Then again, the sensors would have to be shut off first.
* This vehicle, more than the Model S, will solidify Tesla as a cultural icon. You’ll see the X in everything from rap videos to soap operas to Hollywood blockbusters to advertisements for totally irrelevant products. Some people still don’t know the Model S. They’ll know the X first.
* People will want a piece of this brand. The stock will rise. The Model III unveiling next spring will make this one look like a lukewarm opening act, because we’ll be talking about a car you might actually order.
* A young, coarse, playful, rogue engineer now commands the full attention of the entire automobile world, and is forcing change in an industry overpopulated by grumpy, silverbacked gorillas in suits. He’s revealing them as uninspired laggards in a generation uncomfortable with risk and unwilling to adapt to technology. They balk at it. And we know that balking allows the runner to advance to scoring position . . .

Tesla Model X bioweapon defense mode TeslaMondo

Bio-defense mode, with HVAC button.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.01.43 AM

China, this slide is probably for you. Want to live a couple of bonus years? Drive a Tesla.

Episode II: We Build, We Fight
Episode I: The Impostor

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Modi ‘n Musk talk tech

Narendra Modi TeslaMondo

Clockwise from top . . . uh . . . oh screw it.

The Indian PM stopped in and chatted with Tesla execs about Tesla Energy products. Musk likened the proliferation of stationary storage to the advent of cell phones, which leapfrogged landlines in some parts of the world. Local solar/wind generation plus battery storage equals reliable power without the smoky plants.

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