Category Archives: TSLA

Sometimes a base hit wins the pennant

Maybe the nose-picking children of Wall Street and the simpleton press corps consider last night’s Model Y debut underwhelming. Who can blame them? The lighting was bad. The interminable Tesla history lesson was bad. The slapdash treatment given the headlining act was bad. Nothing went viral, even if it went viral.

But TeslaMondo doubts Big Auto executives feel underwhelmed this morning. The Model Y is a sober crossover that Tesla will likely be able to build soon, and in large quantities, given the vast Model 3 DNA. It’s exactly what Tesla needed — and exactly what Ye Olde Auto Industry feared.

Model X is a sexier crossover. It had a sexier debut. But it also proved nearly impossible to build reliably, and it continues to drag on Tesla’s overall reliability ratings. Who needs a repeat of that? Better underwhelm the toddlers on Wall Street but deliver mass quantities without drama.

Crossovers needn’t be all that sexy anyway. They are sucking in millions of people who go unseen in marketing materials because they’re old, or fat, or partially disabled, or saddled with difficult baggage including live offspring. There’s nothing sexy about any of that. Ease of ingress/egress doesn’t win drag races, but it wins customers.

What is sexy about crossovers? Well, they allow more sexual positions, so there’s something. But for many people, crossovers facilitate adventure. Who cares if they’re real adventures or fantasy adventures? There’s no trunk to smother our active, roving lifestyles. We can pretend we’re crashing through a river in the forest, or taking pictures of a bear, or cresting a mountaintop just in time to catch a sunset. All impossible with a dastardly trunk.

All this might give you the impression TeslaMondo finds crossovers confusing. After all, this article claims that crossovers are unsexy and sexy too. The entire world is confused about crossovers, so TeslaMondo naturally makes no sense. Even the seating is confusing. Nobody expected the Model Y to have a third row of seats at all, and they’re purely optional — yet everyone is whining that they’re too small. Whining about a bonus third row that you don’t have to buy? Welcome to crossoverhood.

AMC Eagle, the first crossover

AMC Eagle, the first crossover

Tesla stock withstands a stress test

One of the most debated stocks in the entire market mostly sidestepped the generalized anxiety disorder of 2018, so TSLA’s footing isn’t as tenuous as it may seem. This bodes well for resilience in 2019. TeslaMondo thinks this year will bring more macroeconomic jitters, but Tesla should see positive movement in 2019 despite the negative current:

  • New products — Model Y and solar roof at minimum. And a new in-house microchip.
  • Footprint expansion — D-Day in Europe, meaning Model 3 deliveries, will come in February. Chinese Gigafactory progress mitigates investor fear over US-China tensions. India, will you receive an honorable mention this year?
  • Financials — TeslaMondo thinks Tesla has indeed turned the corner financially and isn’t going back. Even if 2019 turns into a full-on recession, Tesla won’t crumble. It lacks the financial maturity of a Ford, but it has a goose laying golden eggs: image, excitement, green credibility. Also, Tesla’s cost-per-kWh, already the best in the biz, will likely fall faster than a recession can take hold, allowing substantial retail price reductions if demand becomes a problem.
  • Musk — His crib has taller walls this year, per SEC decree. Maybe he’ll make progress with his Tinkertoys instead of throwing stuff and trying to climb out.

Here’s a new-year’s resolution for journalists covering Tesla. Stop pitting everyone’s EV efforts against Tesla, as if the EV market is a tiny shark tank vying for a few minnows. The EV market is as large as the Atlantic Ocean. The top three trade-ins for a Model 3 are the Prius, BMW 3-Series and Honda Accord. Every hybrid or gas driver is an EV convert waiting to happen. That’s a lot of fish for a lot of sharks, and plenty of room to spread out.

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


Pardon that brief intermission

The last post, a rhapsody about Tesla cranking out the $35k car, turned out to be premature. The company wasn’t financially ready for that car yet. More than a year later, the “affordable Tesla” is finally edging toward the on-deck circle.

Stuck with a post about an imminent car that wasn’t imminent, TeslaMondo had two choices:

  1. Modify or delete the post to reflect reality, and then continue writing more articles as if no misstep had happened. That would have been the easy route. Too easy.
  2. Freeze the site and wait for reality to catch up to the post. Only an utter shmegegge would entertain that option. Perfect!

So TeslaMondo has been quietly observing the game from the bleachers this whole time, watching as Tesla’s dirty opponents, their bookies, their beholden cheering squads and a posse of crooked referees try to disallow a Team Tesla victory in Model 3 and profitability. The default metaphor is “moving the goalposts,” but that doesn’t capture the desperation of these nincompoops. They’ve installed a row of exact-change-only tollbooths at the goal line. And they’ve covered the end zone with a tarp that makes it look like more gridiron to conquer. So a Tesla touchdown, like, totally can’t happen.

  • Model 3 backlog is swelling? Tesla has no supply.
  • The backlog is shrinking? Tesla has no demand.
  • Production hits 2,500k/week? A fluke.
  • Production hits 4k/week? Another fluke.
  • Tesla becomes profitable in 2018? Another fluke.
  • And if this stuff isn’t a fluke? Then the company is doomed.
  • Tesla is stealing customers from the Germans? Only until the Germans catch up.
  • The Germans aren’t catching up? The Japanese are.
  • The Japanese aren’t? The Americans are.
  • The Americans aren’t? The Chinese are.
  • The Chinese aren’t? The FBI is.

And so Tesla will never get a cheer even in victory, and even on home turf. The crowd is stacked. This is why Musk can employ dirty tactics, such as jolting the stock market to rattle short sellers, without looking like a bully. This isn’t a mere game. It’s a dirty theater of war with no rules of engagement, and everyone knows it.

Let’s check in on TeslaMondo’s cast of characters. It’s been a while.

Darth Dieter TeslaMondo

Darth Dieter is stepping down as Daimler CEO next spring. He’s open to another duet with Tesla, like the plug-in Smart and Benz cars of yesteryear. But at this point, what could Tesla possibly gain from collaborating with anyone?

Marchionne Godfather TeslaMondo

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, died this summer. While other Big Auto CEOs tried to belittle Tesla, Sergio gave credit to Elon Musk. He also begged everyone not to buy his compliance car, the electric Fiat 500. So he was honest, at least.


A couple years ago, Nissan chief Count Carlos surveyed the walls of his castle and laughed at the notion of a raid. “I know the media love to say we have a new superman coming here, and it’s going to make all of you look like dinosaurs,” Ghosn said. “But, frankly, the likelihood that this is going to happen in our industry, in my opinion, is very limited.” Musk would be the first to agree. Yet it’s happening. UPDATE: Count Carlos is a crook.

Diesel Weasel TeslaMondo

Germany’s diesel weasel scandal culminated with Audi’s CEO going to jail. But nobody knows or cares. This is the car business. A rap sheet comes with the territory.


The climax of his multi-year Tesla Sux media tour came late September, when he said Tesla was headed for the graveyard. A month later, Tesla’s Q3 results proved it’s hardly moribund, while reinforcing the suspicion that Lutz and his old-school mindset are exactly that.


Faraday Future breaking ground

Speaking of moribund, here’s Faraday Future digging its own grave along with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who somehow missed the ground with his shovel. He also missed the abundant clues that this company consisted of boring people who could never break into a padlocked industry like autos. It’s now common knowledge that a successful auto startup in the 21st century must be led by an insomniac, manic-depressive, verbally abusive, sociopathic, megalomaniacal, narcissistic, schizophrenic, substance-abusing, autistic savant who whips up brilliant products in between bouts of head-butting a wall and kicking a cat.

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Chevy Bolt “officially” in trouble

Despite the media narrative of late, the Bolt is stinking up the joint. GM is idling its Bolt plant and has a 111-day supply. So who beat whom? Remember, the Honda Insight beat the Prius to the US market by a few months. And the rest is history.

Officially in trouble TeslaMondo

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Korea tweaks incentives to include Tesla

Tesla debuted in Korea this spring, with some fanfare — but with zero tax incentives because Tesla charging time exceeded the max allowed. Today the local news says the Korean Ministry of Environment will stretch the charging time standard to get Tesla under the umbrella. The changes take effect in September.

You win some, you lose some (Hong Kong).


So, about Los Angeles

While vacationing in LA, TeslaMondo was so unconcerned about the TSLA selloff, and so unintrigued by the anticlimactic* Model III kickoff, that both warrant no more than this single sentence.

So let’s chat about LA. Unfamiliar experiences make life worth living, yes? Here’s what, say, an East Coaster may find unfamiliar in LA:

  1. Sometimes back east, if you want fresh air, you open the windows. Sometimes in LA, you close them.
  2. Back east, when you go to Pizza Hut to pick up your order, you simply walk through the door, state your name, take your food and pay the clerk. At the Pizza Hut on West Temple St. in Silver Lake, it’s a little different. You wait behind a wall of bulletproof glass, yell your name, wait for the guy to slide your food under the bulletproof wall via a bulletproof tray, then you slide your credit card back to him. Sounds like a rough city, right?
  3. Yet a short drive away, on Rodeo Drive, you’ll become so sick of seeing Bentleys, Lambos and Aston Martins that you’ll start taking pics of the interesting fire hydrants instead.IMG_7428
  4. Back to Silver Lake for a second. Can anyone explain why McDonald’s would have daily market pricing for oatmeal? McDonald’s is several steps removed from the oat harvest.IMG_7405
  5. Back to Rodeo Drive. You’ll spend more than a few seconds per day looking directly at women’s** nipples. That’s for two reasons. First, because bras aren’t quite the staple they are back east. And second, because female tallness isn’t awkward like it is back east. In fact, tallish women in LA use strategic footwear to make themselves even taller. So, in fact, you’re staring right at ’em. Sorry, no pics.
  6. Why? How? Here’s some typical Doug fare.IMG_7245
  7. Back east, in Times Square especially, hawkers try to hand out pamphlets about restaurants or comedy clubs. On Hollywood Boulevard, hawkers try to hand out CDs of their own performances. Other examples of self-promotion abound.IMG_7285
  8. In LA you’ll see very old car models that the East Coast has totally forgotten. Some are quaint. Others just ain’t.IMG_7339
  9. But the most unfamiliar experience is seeing this phrase painted on every single exotic car you encounter:

If you ask around, you’ll find it’s a reference to the fact that the quiet new guy in town makes all of ’em seem slightly, but notably, bygone.


*We’ve learned much more from man-in-the-street pics than from Tesla’s official images.

**Gender in LA falls on a spectrum, so TeslaMondo is really just referring to unspecified humanoid nipples.

A visit to car cuckooland

TeslaMondo is heading to LA, the very seat of hedonism, for a week of auto-erotic exploration. With minimal soreness, one hopes.


This retro-tastic pic has nothing to do with LA — or does it?

Let’s see Porsche put a spin on this

Isn’t it splendid when a video ends with a twist?

Sprockets! BMW

“Gott sei Dank war es nicht uns.”