Category Archives: Media

Clickbait headlines “officially” out of hand

Remember this, from a few weeks ago?

Officially in trouble TeslaMondo

Well, it’s going to take a very strong May to reset the nagging suspicion that the Bolt will fall far short of GM’s meager goal of 30k units this year. Here’s the rollout schedule, as a reminder:

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And here are the sales data through April:

Chevy Bolt sales through April TeslaMondo

So the production ramp isn’t causing a commensurate sales ramp. The May figures could turn things around — if New England contains hidden pockets of Bolt fans.

The Bolt is like a little ranch house that’s been totally gutted and updated on the inside, so it excels in everything that really matters for most people. It’s an ideal starter house for a young family, your real estate agent will tell you. But unfortunately it’s priced like a McMansion despite the missing cubic feet and missing curb appeal. It starts in the high $30s and tops out in the low $40s. You can find much sexier stuff for that kind of money, electric and otherwise.

The market agrees:

officially in trouble Bolt ad 1

So what’s going on with this Matthew DeBord character? Years ago he wrote about Tesla in the past tense. A few weeks ago he told us Tesla is officially in trouble because of the Bolt. Soon after, he said Tesla is making huge tactical errors in its product plan. Soon after that, he said Model Y represents a disastrous pivot because it will have a separate platform. Sounds pretty bleak for poor Tesla, eh? But now he’s telling us Tesla has the greatest story in the history of cars and could put bumbling incumbents out of business. Hey, a writer has to eat, you know.

This is a reminder of why TeslaMondo will never spend money or accept money. It corrupts journalism.

Click, click, click, — ka-ching!

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When journalists smoke crack, volume 23,565

The Street decided that Tesla’s innocuous third-party recall regarding a parking brake component should be billed as one of the biggest automotive blunders of all time. And they figured the best way to illustrate the story is a Tesla pop-up store (?)

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But the next morning, the crew apparently decided they might have oversold the story. Yes, they went right back to the drawing board, wiped everything clean, and came up with this new, improved headline that, like, totally befits this parking brake recall. Ready?

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Much better. Not.

Cramer, if you’re reading this, please leave a comment about what you’re smoking and how much.

Tesla is a revolution, not a car

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Three years ago this month, Bloomberg published this “view” by Edward Niedermeyer, an auto journalist who gets published on big websites because he’s an auto journalist who gets published on big websites. With three years of hindsight, and with Model III apparently about to start pilot production, let’s revisit his Bloomberg piece, eh?

Niedermeyer, 2014: From the beginning, there have been signs that Elon Musk’s ambitions for Tesla Motors exceeded his grasp on reality — or at least the realities of the car business.

TeslaMondo, 2017: Big Auto is squirming amid a new reality defined by Tesla. Quoth Audi: “I hate to admit it, but Tesla did everything right.” Quoth FCA: “I’m incredibly impressed with what that kid has done.” Tesla’s gobbling of market share has totally transformed the product strategy of, well, just about every automaker. This was Musk’s true intent all along. He told a German audience (27:57) in 2013 : “If the big car companies see that our sales are good, and that we are actually taking a little bit of market share — I mean, we’re a tiny company, you know, a drop in the bucket — but if they see that people are buying these cars, then they will have no choice but to conclude that electric cars are the right way to go, and that will accelerate the transition to sustainable transport.” This is TeslaMondo’s favorite Musk quote, dry as it may be. Why? Because there is none more prophetic. Notice what’s been happening lately:

5/08/2016: Hyundai/Kia announce new EV strategy

6/21/2016: VW announces new EV strategy

8/03/2016: GM announces new EV strategy

11/25/2016: Jaguar/Land Rover announce new EV strategy

11/27/2016: Daimler announces new EV strategy

11/30/16: Toyota announces new EV strategy

12/5/2016: BMW announces new EV strategy

12/17/2016: Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi announce new EV strategy

1/19/2017: Ford announces new EV strategy

Niedermeyer, 2014: Tesla’s market capitalization is hovering around $30 billion, about half that of General Motors and Ford.

TeslaMondo, 2017: How about $43 billion, or 88% percent of Ford?

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Niedermeyer, 2014: “But wait,” cry the market and financial press with one voice, “Tesla now has the potential to disrupt both the auto industry and the power utilities.” Which is true enough, in the sense that I have the potential to disrupt the world curling rankings.

Bonus: This Bloomberg panelist dismissed Tesla Energy as “jumping the shark,” a 1970s Happy Days reference that would require an overlong explanation here.

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If she thinks Musk is like Fonzie, she obviously hasn’t met Nvidia’s CEO.screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-10-34-25-pm

TeslaMondo, 2017: Tesla Energy has made bigger and bigger headlines as it powers bigger and bigger entities, including islands. “It’s growing as fast as we can humanly scale it,” says CTO JB Straubel. Tesla Motors is now Tesla Inc., a three-headed hydra breathing down on autos, battery storage and solar. The auto division is grabbing the attention while the others are in flux due to the recent acquisition of SolarCity. But never mind that stuff. The real news is that Niedermeyer is making notable progress:

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Niedermeyer, 2014: In the case of the Gigafactory, Tesla’s ability to disrupt lithium-ion battery production is severely limited by two major factors: first, Tesla itself has no experience manufacturing battery cells; second, Tesla depends on the very companies Musk wants to “disrupt.” Panasonic, Tesla’s main battery supplier and “default assumption,” for his Gigafactory partner, has (for fairly obvious reasons) not committed to Musk’s vision of a plan designed to lower the market price of its product by 30 percent. Which brings us to Tesla’s ability to disrupt the car market. If Panasonic believed sales of electrified vehicles held the sort of growth Musk anticipates, it would far more likely pursue that opportunity with Toyota, its electric-battery partner since 1996. Toyota, the world’s most valuable automaker and the industry leader in hybrid electrification, announced last year that it would increase joint lithium-ion battery production with Panasonic to 200,000 units per year. Having also owned a stake in Tesla since 2010, Toyota could easily have offered to cut Tesla into that deal. The fact that it didn’t supports the long-standing perception among Toyota-watchers that chief executive officer Akio Toyoda invested in an exciting car and brand four years ago, not a potential industry disruptor.

TeslaMondo, 2017: Panasonic is now the pursuer, not the pursued. It just expanded its Gigafactory involvement, and Panasonic’s CEO is telling the press he hopes to land a contract for some of Tesla’s autonomous driving gear. Meanwhile, superman Toyota is now stuck with the SoreEye fuel cell vehicle and the plug-in Prius Prime, neither of which is moving the sales needle or doing anything for the brand. Every month Toyota puts more cash on the hood of the Prime. The rebate is now $1,000 in some regions. Yet a decade ago, the Prius was a marvel of planet-saving engineering that everyone simply had to own. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, Toyota balked at EVs, and now it’s scrambling to catch the EV train that’s long left the station with Musk at the controls. TeslaMondo talks to car buyers every single day. Prius buyers are declaring, “This will be my last gas-powered car.” The Prius, whose name means predecessor, has suddenly become the Pontis, or bridge, to EV ownership. Whose EV will they buy? Gee, guess.

Niedermeyer, 2014: Toyota is no stranger to disruption, having overturned the global car business over the course of decades. But rather than high-concept, visionary technology and hype, it was Toyota’s mastery of the culture of manufacturing that drove it from bit player to industry titan. Toyota emphasizes kaizen, or continuous improvement, not Musk’s mercurial style.

TeslaMondo, 2017: Name one vehicle in the history of vehicles that has come to exemplify kaizen better than the Tesla Model S. It has repeatedly molted into a better and stronger creature. It shares little with its forebear born just a few years ago, in 2012. And that’s without mentioning the software updates, issued over the air. That’s a new type of kaizen that no other automaker can match.

Niedermeyer, 2014: If Musk really believes the Wall Street-Silicon Valley line that Tesla is in a position to seriously “disrupt” decades-old relationships like Toyota-Panasonic, let alone the auto industry more broadly, he’s headed for a stunning fall.

TeslaMondo, 2017: Rather than issue a broad, windy retort about Tesla’s status as disruptor, let’s focus on one unarguable example. Century-old mammoths like BMW and Nissan are now resorting to tapping people on the shoulder — people who are waiting in line for a Tesla Model III — and trying to talk them out of it. If this isn’t disruption, what is? And if disruption isn’t the first stage of a revolution, what is?

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Tesla versus the press, volume 253,484,874

This article says that even good news is bad news for Tesla stock. Yet the stock notched a gain today despite a deafening drumbeat of bad news. Oh Rupert.

Turning to the Wall Street Journal, we see that motorist reaction to Autopilot splits into two categories, both negative. And the image makes Musk look like an escapee from a maximum security mental facility. Oh Rupert.

WSJ coverage TeslaMondo

Tesla versus the press, part 253,484,873

This article says Tesla releases bad news when the market is asleep, like this past Sunday. The problem with that theory is that Tesla released pretty strong Q4 numbers on Jan. 3. Guess what day of the week that was. Yes, a Sunday.

Next . . .

This article says Musk is kind of a weasel because he didn’t say anything about the fatal Autopilot crash while he was tapping equity markets a few weeks ago. The problem with that theory is that the Autopilot crash proved immaterial to TSLA shares. Even today’s Google-humping article about whether it was material — proved immaterial. The stock barely budged today, in the end. In fact, most automakers did far worse today due to Brexit weeping.

And the other problem with that theory is, as the reporter found out, Musk is not a weasel. He’s falls into a similar, yet different taxonomic classification:

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Gawk-athon continues in stride

Want to be a celebrity? Buy a Tesla. Anything you do becomes newsworthy, even if it’s nothing more than screwing up or getting injured. Look at these headlines. These are big-time, mainstream sites we’re talking about. Would any of these incidents make international headlines if they involved a Chevy Malibu?

WSJ: “Window Plummets From 76th Floor of Shanghai Tower, Injuring Tesla Driver.”
NBC News: “Man Says Tesla Car Started On Its Own, Crashed Into Trailer.”
Yahoo.com: “Five Passengers Survive, Tesla Model S Flies 82 Feet.”

WSJ joins Tesla gawk-athon

Did you know that Ford has issued 16 recalls for one generation of the Escape? Probably not. That’s because the news hasn’t spread far beyond the hardcore automotive press. Why? Because nobody cares. Ford is boring. Tesla, on the other hand, is not boring. It builds things nobody else has the balls to build. And when you’re not boring, people gawk.

Today we find that Consumer Reports has been poking around Tesla forums to find Model X tales of woe. If that isn’t precious enough, the WSJ tracked down a Tesla owner to interview about her issues. Oh Rupert. Peruse ANY car forum and you’ll find tales of woe, but they’re not worth mentioning. And hang around any auto service department and you’ll find plenty of people willing to complain on the record. But we don’t read about them in the WSJ, because nobody cares.

We can’t complain too loudly about the gawking press, because Tesla also benefits from it: Interviews with Tesla owners about their super-duper vehicles. Tesla gets an OTA update. Tesla opens a showroom. Tesla installs a Supercharger. Tesla might export to Pitcairn Island.

You don’t hear about every decision BMW makes, every sentence its CEO says, every zit on BMW’s bum or everything BMW tweets. That’s because nobody cares. Heck, today the automotive press reports VW’s emissions cheating kit dates back to 1999. That’s NEWS. Yet on the front page of the WSJ website you’ll instead find a Model X. See below. What does this tell you?

Thank you, world, for caring enough about Tesla to gawk at its owners. Drive a Tesla, become a celebrity. You’ll get special attention even if you do nothing except rave about it, bitch about it, get into an accident or avoid an accident. It’s all noteworthy. Even newsworthy.

And so Tesla’s mind share continues to grow . . .

 

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Teslas bösen plan ist sicherlich die in Deutschland arbeiten

Dr. Evil TeslaMondoAfter a week of headlines about “Tesla killer” concept cars in Frankfurt, it’s time to revisit Tesla’s view of competition:

Skip to 11:51. Musk: “If the big car companies see that our sales are good, and that we’re actually taking a little bit of market share — I mean we’re a tiny company, a drop in the bucket — but if they see how people are buying these cars, then they will have no choice but to conclude that electric cars are the right way to go, and that will accelerate the transition to sustainable transport.”

He said that in Germany, incidentally.

When you take that comment, then add Tesla’s open-source IP stance, and throw in Diarmuid O’Connell’s recent public plea for more EV contenders — it’s hard to fear the German concept cars shown this week. Contrary to the Tesla-baiting headlines, the birth of German high-performance EVs — whenever it really happens — simply represents Tesla’s plot coming to some fruition.

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When journalists smoke crack . . .

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After looking closely at those news tidbits, we’re left with this interpretation:

While Chinese President Xi Jinping is here visiting Obama, Tesla will feverishly try to sell as many vehicals on Jinping’s home turf before he returns home and puts an end to the frolic. Meanwhile, Tesla is working on that batter factory in Nevada. Those vehical parts must stick together using some really gooey batter. Which vehicals? Must be those fancy ones that cost at least $132,000. And are made of carbon fiber.

Strange days indeed.

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Bidness Etc. gaffe rivals 60 Minutes

Tesla nickel demand TeslaMondoRemember when 60 Minutes dubbed revvy engine sounds into its piece on Tesla? It suggested that those 60 Minutes guys know nothing about cars. Well, this morning Bidness Etc. has joined the dope-a-thon by confusing the Model S with an old BMW 5-Series.

Meanwhile, the web is crawling with articles about Tesla’s plans to pay $25/hr at the Gigafactory — all of these stories stemming from a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal. Tesla says the report is false, though the company’s denial borders on non-denial denial. A few months ago, the same paper briefly misled everyone about an alleged Gigafactory construction shutdown/delay.

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