Come on, let’s go Space Truckin’

Today’s Mars colonization keynote made for some memorable viewing. It’s always inspiring to see the “other” Elon do this thing at SpaceX. We’re reminded of a few things:

  1. Musk is an engineer of such high caliber that you could find yourself wanting a Tesla even if you don’t need a Tesla.
  2. The most remote planet in our solar system is France.
  3. Model X isn’t the most complicated vehicle on the planet after all.
  4. With rocket gas stations strategically-located “up there,” we could extend our reach and truly go Space Truckin’ as in the Deep Purple song.
  5. Reusable rockets could one day be used for earthbound package deliveries, when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. Actually, make that 10 minutes.

But once the Q&A session began, it became instantly clear that something was very wrong. The questions ranged from unintelligent to dumb. And some “questions” were really just self-indulgent ramblings from people basking in their 15 seconds of fame. Well, TeslaMondo has learned that a prankster messed around with the event schedule, so Elon inadvertently delivered his Mars presentation to a Hempfest crowd. Meanwhile, one block away at the Hempfest presentation, the scientific community did pick up some interesting growing tips that are somewhat applicable to Mars colonization, so it worked out fine for all.


Woefully weak ways of wooing women

Just finished eating a Luna nutrition bar. Man, they’re delicious, eh? But they have a strange effect on TeslaMondo staff. They cause painful tingling in the private regions of men. Maybe even a shriveling effect. Yes, Luna bars may taste great, but there’s something scary going on here.

Oh, no! Shoulda read the label first!


Even without reading the label, the product itself screams “woman.” Look at this femme visage!


Not obvious enough? What about the inspirational quote on every bar? A dead giveaway that it’s all about the gals:


And if THAT isn’t obvious enough, just read the ingredients. What are little girls made of? This stuff:


In short, there’s nothing even vaguely womanly about Luna bars. If we accept that gender is keenly chemical/hormonal, then you’d think food would be an easy product to steer toward genuine feminine gain. But nope.

Now, on to cars. Wait — cars for women? Oh heck yes. The Seat Mii is officially blessed and marketed by Cosmopolitan magazine, the publication that claims to REALLY know women.


Some women cringe at this whole idea. So does TeslaMondo. How is the Seat Mii more gal-friendly than, say, a Golf? Or a Fit? Or a Fiat? Well, go ahead and scan the car’s website. Maybe you’ll find something to hang your hat on. TeslaMondo came up empty. Same goes for this Aston Martin DB11, supposedly designed for millennial women:


Huh? Yes, chicks aspire to own potent GT coupes popularized by James Bond. But if they’re not quite rich enough, they default to flaccid five-door hatches instead of, you know, cheaper coupes.

On to Tesla. The Model S is allegedly guy-centric and the Model X gal-centric. Really? How? “Women tend to tote around children and like to sit high,” everyone says. Well, those apply to men too. The crossover craze isn’t confined to half the population. To boot, the very first Model X owners were men. They took delivery onstage, remember? The sole female recipient was just a stand-in for Sergey Brin. Did those founding fathers buy them just for their wives to drive around? Tesla VC Steve Jurvetson didn’t. He regularly posts pictures of himself and his Model X. Yet he’s an anatomically intact male (we assume).


If the ovoid shape of the Model X screams “woman at the wheel,” then Porsche guys must be missing a few hormones. Poor things. And what of the latest Lexus lineup, with its forced creases and folds — angularity for angularity’s sake? It totally snubs the gals, right? You don’t see women in the latest Lexuses, do you? Nah.

The underlying problem here is that gender-centric marketing of a gender-neutral product is absurd, period. You know what else is absurd? Gender itself. It’s a damnable ruse.


A man.


A woman.

It’s understandable why automakers would try to woo women. Even though men make more visits to showrooms, the “boss” often calls the shots from a remote location. “Gotta go home and check with the boss,” men will say as they leave the showroom without signing anything. Ever hear a woman refer to her husband as the boss? Maybe if she’s over 80 years old. Things were different a while back.

So, most of the time, women wear the pants, like Hillary. Automakers ignore them at their peril. But overtly marketing cars to women, as we’ve seen, is absurd. It also risks a serious backlash, as we’ve also seen. Women don’t like to be marketed-to based on broad assumptions. Does anyone?

Hypocrisy alert: Here are five broad assumptions about women. Yes, TeslaMondo has the gall to use the words “broad” and “women” with only two words separating them. Thin ice, friends. Thin ice.

  1. They like virgins.
  2. They despise car-sales subterfuge.
  3. They’re green.
  4. They favor underdogs.
  5. They’re mechanically disinclined.

Tesla is well-positioned to win on all five fronts with NO MARKETING EFFORT. Or if there is any, it’s discreet. That’s the crux of this post. Discretion > aggression.

  1. As a new brand, Tesla is starting with tabula rasa. With every automotive scandal, Big Auto looks like a posse of scumbags. Women don’t like baggage like that. Tesla has none. It’s a virgin.
  2. With a mall-based retail presence that favors discovery over selling, women can waltz right in as if they own the place, instead of sending in their bomb-sniffing husbands first.
  3. Tesla is Mr. Right, period.
  4. It’s locked in constant struggle. Witness the legal beefs about factory-direct selling. And witness the daily headlines about Big Auto antagonists coming to slaughter poor Tesla any minute now. Tesla is the underdog.
  5. No mechanical inclination? No problem. Teslas don’t have much mechanical action going on anyway. And no more looking askance at dirty car mechanics.

Yes, TeslaMondo thinks women and Tesla are going to get along swimmingly. And here’s a bonus for women Tesla drivers: Some asshole in a BMW is staring at you at a traffic light? He’s gone in 2.7 seconds if you’re wearing flats, or 2.5 if you’re wearing heels.

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Dealers have something new to whine about

TeslaMondo has almost two decades of in-the-trenches experience at auto dealerships. You want to know what car customers are talking about on the sales floor? Ask TeslaMondo.

They’re starting to talk about Tesla, yes. But they’re also starting to ask about OTA updates. They’ve heard that Tesla owners receive constant improvements, and even safety patches, without having to take their cars in for service. It’s a natural extension of the technology in our pockets. Our phones receive updates. Our cars should naturally follow.

But, like everything else that’s natural, it’s totally alien to the rusty, crusty world of dealer franchise laws. Dealerships get paid goodly sums of money for performing recall work, even though the work increasingly involves mere software “reflashes.” Dealers bill the manufacturer an hour’s labor for tapping a scan tool for 20 seconds. Piece a cake!

The foot traffic is nice, too. Some people who visit a dealer for a reflash end up reflashing the tires, or maybe even the whole darned car. This benefits the automakers too, of course. It all adds up to a slow, creaky adoption of OTA technology. Tesla is forcing it along, however, by making everyone else look ridiculous. With every Tesla Autopilot update in the press, the Honda Pilots of the world look like PalmPilots. Automakers won’t abide looking Byzantine for much longer.

So here’s what TeslaMondo hopes will happen:

When automakers finally get their butts surgically removed from their couches and start implementing OTA technology, the dealers will start squawking about their interrupted gravy train. With any luck, this will become headline news right about the time Tesla Vs. Michigan gets underway. Dealers will look doubly ridiculous, for they’ll have to whine about both OTA technology and factory-direct sales. In other words, two staples of modern automobiledom as defined by the enemy in Silicon Valley.

What will the Tesla Vs. Michigan jury think of this? They’ll think Tesla is indeed evil and needs to be kicked out. Huh? Why? Because there isn’t a juror in Michigan who doesn’t have family in the legacy car business. Tesla needs a change of venue pronto.

Oh, another contract? Yawn.

While we’re distracted by bickering between Mobileye and Tesla, Tesla has quietly signed a massive Powerpack contract with the state of California. These boring contracts for boring batteries represent the proliferation of clean energy. That sounds an awful lot like the very mission of Tesla, and the backbone of the TSLA stock story. But, sigh, battery contracts aren’t sexy.

Somewhat sexier — though not Mobileye sexy — is Michigan’s refusal to grant Tesla a dealer license in Michigan. Tesla expected as much. Now the company has a legal building block for its next maneuver, whatever that may be. TeslaMondo hopes it involves giving violent wedgies, resulting in broken underwear straps, to Michigan politicians.

Sexier still — Oil industry consultant Todd A. Katz tries to pry inside info from Tesla using a Musk-like email address, in a plot apparently hatched in a middle school espionage class. Katz would have gotten further by simply walking briskly through Tesla HQ while wearing jeans and a sport coat, and keeping his head down while tapping a phone — banking on the notion that people won’t make direct eye contact with Musk anyway. There’s a serious side to this folly, however. TeslaMondo has repeatedly fretted about Elon Musk’s personal safety. Polarizing figures attract unwanted attention from all manner of humanity, from the lunatic fringe to clean-shaven business execs who suddenly find themselves on the wrong end of a market trend. Sometimes, in a wrap-around effect straight from an Atari game, the clean-shaven business execs go off one side of the screen and emerge as lunatics on the other side. “The list of people that would not mind if I were gone is growing.” That’s Musk, in the Ashlee Vance book. Is it possible to rattle the petroleum industry, car industry, space industry, energy industry — and come out alive? We’ll find out.

And now, the sexy stuff. Mobileye and Tesla had an amicable breakup just a little while ago. “Us parting ways was somewhat inevitable. There’s nothing unexpected here from our standpoint,” Musk said. “We’re committed to autonomy. They’ll go their way, and we’ll go ours.” There now. Anything inflammatory? No, in fact, that was Elon on his best behavior. It was the guy on the other bar stool that started with the mouth. Tesla had little choice but to respond with a full can of Musk.

P100D tests as advertised, which is scary

faster-pussycat-facelift-teslamondoAt some point very soon, you’ll be sitting at a traffic light and realize you’re in a right-turn-only lane when you intended to go straight. You’ll hatch a plot: As soon as the light turns green, you MUST jump in front of the guy next to you or else you’ll be forced onto a highway ramp into rush hour traffic, with the next exit four miles away. That means you’ll never make it to the airport on time. If you miss this flight, you might lose a massive contract.

In fact, your very CAREER could depend on getting an early jump and overtaking the guy in the next lane. Trying not to stare, you look over your shoulder to size up the situation. Is it an old lady in a rusty Kia Rio? Oh please, oh please . . .

No, in fact, it’s a Bugatti Veyron. And the dude is already blipping the throttle and grinning at you. Game over? No, a mere inconvenience, because you’re driving a Tesla Model S P100D.

The light turns green. The guy tears away with a nasty “VVVRRRRAAAAAPPPP!!!” You leisurely move into his lane behind him. Why? Because the car behind him was, in fact, an old lady in a rusty Kia Rio. The end.

A perfect time for radar love

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-8-15-29-amJust as Google and Apple falter in their romantic quest to enter the manufacturing-intensive car biz — it’s hard to build fantasies — Tesla’s new radar vision reminds the world that Tesla dwells in the real auto business with real paying customers. Tesla’s innovations benefit customers who buy cars, not roving puppy-dog cars in search of owners (Google) or fuzzy nebulae purporting to give Tesla a run for its money (Apple).

Tesla gets its hands dirty by manufacturing things, selling them to people, and improving them. TeslaMondo considers all of this a prerequisite for the car business. And Tesla’s kaizen boosts its resale value, as we’ve just been reminded. Owning a Tesla means benefitting from OTA improvements. It’s an investment vehicle, not a throwaway. If the Model S were an iPhone, it could start as a 5 and become a 7 without making you visit the Genius Bar — isn’t that right, Tim Cook?

Mobileye shares are bleeding as people wonder if radar love will spread to other automakers, leaving poor Mobileye with unmarketable cameras. A logical fear. Your move, Mobileye. Drivin’ all night, your hands wet on the wheel? That describes Mobileye investors. TeslaMondo is one of them.

Return of the killer mustache

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-7-09-56-amThe Fisker Karma is back, but like a plot twist from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it’s not really the Fisker Karma. After Fisker went bankrupt, two totally separate scavenger companies grabbed some Fisker DNA and created the two totally separate zombie facsimiles that are now hitting the market.

  1. A Chinese mogul salvaged some of the brain tissue, threw it in an incubator, and grew a totally smarter Fisker Karma called the Karma Revero. It has a four-banger GM engine, about 50 electric-only miles, and a solar roof that can push the car a whole 1.5 miles. Don’t laugh. Let’s see you push the car 1.5 miles.
  2. Another company comprising Henrik Fisker himself, professional Tesla disser Bob Lutz, and some other guy, salvaged the body only, shaved the mustache — presumably after slapping some sense into Fisker — stuffed an old Corvette powertrain into the car, and there ya go. Heck on wheels! TeslaMondo’s sources say Lutz’s next project will be stuffing a Lotus Elise powertrain into a Tesla Roadster.

Meanwhile, the auto world has moved along just a bit. Sure, the Fisker body still shines — and it should, considering Tesla commissioned the design — but the technology in these cars reeks of decay fresh out of the box. That’s okay. Everyone has a soft spot for old-school zombies, and these cars are bona fide ambulatory dead. Even deader than Lutz’s Caddy ELR creature? Well, let’s not push it.



You’ve come a long way, baby

And not a single puff of smoke. Click to learn more about this image from seminal Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson.



A fitting endorsement for sure


How did the press miss the fact that today’s Tesla evangelist, Morgan Freeman, launched his acting career via a kids’ TV show called The Electric Company? Why does TeslaMondo have to be the one to point out life’s kitschy coincidences?



“The people with money buy a Tesla.”

So ends a WSJ article about declining Prius sales. TeslaMondo knew all along that Model S was becoming the new Prius, despite the price difference. The Prius has always punched above its weight class, winning customers who would ordinarily spend much more. Well, now they are spending much more.

So despite Toyota’s attempt to pitch the new Prius as exciting — even leading police on a high-speed chase during the Super Bowl — it’s not exciting. And without excitement, you’re left with no compelling reason to get a Prius, or any hybrid. Tesla now owns public mind share in fuel economy, green cred and tech-wow. And Model III hasn’t arrived yet.