Category Archives: Media

Wisdom starts with admitting ignorance

Journalists recognize Tesla has pushed into virgin territory with unique products built in unique ways, so their journalism experience will not serve them here. Their business-writing acumen, whether that’s two years or 40 years, is moot. It’s impossible for a pundit, or even Tesla’s CEO, to predict with any certainty which of its next steps will be easy or hard, quick or tortuously long. Tesla’s inexperience could help or hurt. Nobody really knows. And so automotive columnists wisely drop their keyboards and STFU instead of claiming to have expertise about a non-existent path forward, right?

Actually, no. They don’t do any of that.

May 10, 2013, Time MagazineTesla Beats the Odds — and the Haters — but Now Comes the Hard Part

April 2, 2016, Business Insider — Tesla is About to Face the Biggest Challenge in its History

May 2, 2017, Barron’s — Tesla Motors: And Now the Hard Part

May 9, 2017, The Banks Report — Tesla’s Retail Model May Be its Biggest Challenge

August 1, 2017, Driving — Tesla’s Model 3 Debuts — Now Comes the Hard Part

November 26, 2017, Jalopnik — Tesla’s New Semi Truck Might be its Biggest Challenge Yet

December 29, 2017, Seeking AlphaTiming Will be Tesla’s Biggest Challenge in 2018

February 16, 2018, Wealth Daily — The Rare Metal Solving Tesla’s Biggest Challenge

October 3, 2018, Seeking AlphaTesla: Q4 Now the Hard Part

December 14, 2018, Teslarati — Tesla Faces Biggest Challenge Yet as Oil Industry Fights to Maintain its Hold on US Auto

December 20, 2018, ForbesTesla Survived Manufacturing Hell — Now Comes the Hard Part

 

The 60 Minutes transcript, unedited

All of this italicized material ended up on the cutting room floor, the rascals — but TeslaMondo has restored it.


Lesley Stahl: Here are some of the words written about you.

Elon Musk: It’s a lot of words! (LAUGH)

Lesley Stahl: –over this summer. Erratic, unstable, reckless, operatic.

Elon Musk: Operatic? Ah, that’s not bad, actually. Sometimes I wear a dress and perform the Habenera from Carmen.

Lesley Stahl: Is that your favorite, you uncultured swine? I like Cursum Perficio.

Elon Musk: Never heard of it.

Lesley Stahl: It’s Enya.

Elon Musk: She’s considered opera?

Lesley Stahl: Well, she’s operatic.

Elon Musk: Bullshit, but no matter. What are you doing later today? We should get together and listen to some music. I’ll get on my dress and you can be Don Jose. And we’ll see what happens. I’m super-excited about plant-a-seed day.

Lesley Stahl: I’m not even going to ask what you’re talking about. You tweet a lot.

Elon Musk: That’s funny you should say that. I’ve always been nervous about hitting the high notes. Oh, Twitter? Well, I’m sleeping in the factory floor, soaked in stress. I’m stuck in a cage. My Twitter account is the caged bird singing. You’ve heard of that book, right, about why the caged bird sings?

Lesley Stahl: You want to sing for us? Go for it.

Elon Musk: Never mind. Obviously you haven’t read it.

Lesley Stahl: You use your tweeting to kind of get back at critics.

Elon Musk: Rarely.

Lesley Stahl: You kind of have little wars with the press.

Elon Musk: And I’ll have one with 60 Minutes if you mess up the editing. And don’t insert some revvy engine sound over Tesla footage like you did in 2014. Twitter’s a war zone. If somebody’s gonna jump in the warzone, it’s like, “Okay, you’re in the arena. Let’s go!”

His warzone tweeting drew fire when out of the blue in August he tweeted, quote: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” The SEC disputed that claim and charged him with securities fraud. The case was settled with Musk agreeing that his “communications relating to the company… including… Twitter” would be overseen by his board.

Lesley Stahl: Have you had any of your tweets censored since the settlement?

Elon Musk: No.

Lesley Stahl: None? Does someone have to read them before they go out?

Elon Musk: No. But this talk about rebellion is getting me super-excited about plant-a-seed day.

Lesley Stahl: Stop it. So your tweets are not supervised?

Elon Musk: The only tweets that would have to be say reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock. And since the stock market is now hyper-reactive and computerized to the point where one ill-advised word like “secured” can make billions of dollars go sloshing around, that means every tweet.

Lesley Stahl: And that’s it?

Elon Musk: Yeah, I mean otherwise it’s, “Hello, First Amendment.” Like freedom of speech is fundamental.

Lesley Stahl: But how do they know if it’s going to move the market if they’re not reading all of them before you send them?

Elon Musk: Well, I guess we might make some mistakes.  Who knows?

Lesley Stahl: Are you serious?

Elon Musk: Nobody’s perfect.

Lesley Stahl: Look at you. I’m still trying to picture you in a dress. Do you shave your legs?

Elon Musk: I want to be clear. I do not respect the SEC. I do not respect them.

Lesley Stahl: I’d ask why not, but this is 21st-century journalism. We skip the crucial questions. But you’re abiding by the settlement, aren’t you?

Elon Musk: Because I respect the justice system.

Abiding also meant he had to relinquish his position as chairman of the Tesla board. He’s been replaced by board member Robyn Denholm.

Lesley Stahl: Did you handpick her?

Elon Musk: Yes. She helps me with jewelry and makeup on concert nights.

Lesley Stahl: The impression was that she was put in to kind of watch over you.

Elon Musk: Yeah, I mean that’s not realistic. I mean I’m the largest–

Lesley Stahl: Like a babysitter–

Elon Musk: I’m super-excited about plant-a-seed day.

Lesley Stahl: Stop it. I’m blushing under this quarter-inch layer of ghostly makeup on my face. So do you think you’ll want to go back to being– to being chair?

Elon Musk: No, I don’t think — I actually just prefer to have no titles at all, besides diva, on concert nights.

With or without titles, there’s something larger than life about Elon Musk. He has a cult following. One of Silicon Valley’s most successful and versatile entrepreneurs, he has, beyond cars, built powerful rockets with reusable boosters, this one launched a record 64 satellites into orbit. He’s digging a tunnel deep underground to deal with traffic congestion. And in each case, he started a company.

Lesley Stahl: Did you have a lot of money? Did your family give you a lot of money to start all of this?

Elon Musk: Yes, but I spent it on voice lessons before I left. So the real answer is No.

Lesley Stahl: You grew up in South Africa.

Elon Musk: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: Yeah.

Elon Musk: Yeah.

Lesley Stahl: Yeah what?

Elon Musk: You said yeah.

Lesley Stahl: No, you said it.

Elon Musk: No, I said yes.

Lesley Stahl: What’s the difference?

Elon Musk: Yeah means there’s more to it.

Lesley Stahl: I was hoping you’d talk about what it’s like there, but I don’t want to ask because I don’t know enough about South Africa to ask any smart questions.

Elon Musk: I left when I was 17, by myself. I had a backpack of clothes and a suitcase of books. And that’s it. Well, and lipstick.

Musk was a champion of automation. So his original assembly lines were full of robots. But the robots kept breaking down. Walk along this new line in the tent, and all you see are, well, humans. He tweeted: “Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

Elon Musk: People are way better at dealing with unexpected circumstances than robots. Although humans bitch and moan to a UAW script. Robots don’t have unions. Although, in the future, they might. That’s when I’m quitting to join the New York Philharmonic.

Musk diva

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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:

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 10.46.58 PM

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?

img_5871.png

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

bloomberg-view-teslamondo

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?

Image result for muahahaha

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.

jump-the-shark-teslamondo

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:

niedermeyer-curling-teslamondo

world-curling-rankings-teslamondo

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:

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 5.44.51 PM

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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 . . .

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 9.27.05 PM

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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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