Elon Musk’s Two Great Virtues

By Enrico Verga, a writer, consultant, and based in Milan. As a consultant, he concentrates on firms interested in opportunities in international and digital markets. His articles have appeared in Il Sole 24 Ore, Capo Horn, Longitude, Il Fatto Quotidiano, and many other publications. You can follow him on Twitter .

Mr. Musk has two great virtues: he is a visionary and a magnificent salesman.

However, he also has a problem – he has trouble keeping his promises.

Let’s start from the beginning.

A few months ago, the world was jubilant. The latest rocket of Space X (a company owned by Musk) successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral, showing that it was now feasible to put useful payloads in orbit at a manageable cost. Mr. Musk added a touch of salesmanship genius: in the upper stage of the rocket, he stashed a Tesla. Once the center booster separated, the car, complete with a mock astronaut named Spaceman as driver, was propelled onward. Spaceman will now drive the Tesla into a stable orbit around the sun, part of the way between Earth and Mars. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, more than one malignant analyst has started to bring up the serious problem that afflicts Tesla, the car company. The typical quip is, “Musk can put a car into orbit but he can’t deliver the ones that he has presold.”

This isn’t the first time analysts have pointed to the risk of Tesla failing – the worry surfaced already in 2015. However, signs are multiplying that Musk is hurrying toward a glorious reentry into the atmosphere, rather like a shining meteor that blazes brilliantly before smashing into the ground.

A few days ago, a hedge fund manger, John Thompson of Villas Capital Management, that “unless Elon Musk can pull a rabbit out of his hat, Tesla will go bankrupt in 4 months.” Other articles give the time horizon less definitively as 4-6 months, but the basic message is the same.

Thompson is duly shorting Tesla, and he is hardly the only one.

The issues are straightforward. Musk is a genius of a salesman, but if each quarter he fails to do what stockholders, other investors, or analysts expect him to do, the stock price is in danger. In particular, his promise to produce a Model 3 (a new electric model, but one more within range of the American middle class) looks more and more like merely a promise.

Let’s decompose the current situation.

The Problem of Tax Breaks

Electric cars are bought because buyers want to do something for the environment. They are also bought because they come with tax breaks. When these vanish, some of the buyers vanish, too. Musk is well aware of the issue, given that an end to monetary incentives has already devastated two markets where he had been previously successful. As , in 2015, Denmark represented more than 5% of Tesla’s global sales. End of tax breaks, end of the party.

Changing the continent doesn’t change the game. Take Hong Kong, a sort of modern city-state. In April 2017, it reduced tax breaks for electric cars, and the results were similar: per , Tesla sales collapsed.

We come now to the United States. Will the thousands of people getting in line to make down payments on the Model 3 still be able to look forward to tax breaks by the time when (if?) Musk gets around to delivering the actual car?

The Problem of Competition

In any case, tax breaks will affect all electric cars, not just those built by Mr. Musk. In a , Bloomberg asserts that in the next five years, there will be more than 100 electric car models on the market – some maybe better looking, maybe newer than the Model 3. And all the while enjoying the same tax breaks. Are we really sure Musk will succeed in selling out his Model 3s, assuming he can even produce them?

Another headache for Musk is that Panasonic (with which Tesla should have collaborated) has announced a , who as it happens makes cars.

To really get a sense of the problem, I encourage readers to look at the list – conveniently available at a , and with plenty of links – of all the electric car models coming out in the next five years. There one can also find all of the battery producers competing with Tesla, all of the producers of autonomous driving systems, and all of the alternatives to Tesla’s Powerwall. The lists are so long it takes at least three hours to read through them.

The Problems with Other Musk Companies

Musk has been great at selling not just one dream, but several. For example, his idea of a closed cycle of energy production is quite splendid. Here’s how it works. You buy Musk’s solar panels for your roof, then you buy Musk’s accumulator and battery, and finally an electric car that can be recharged with energy produced by the roof panels. Then you no longer pollute!

It all makes sense on paper. Sadly, all of the individual companies making up this “cycle” are in bad straits. Solar City is , Solar Roof is a (am I detecting a pattern?), Tesla Powerwall faces . Forget about Tesla trucks – whatever they are, they .

The Problems with Production

At the end of December, more technicians from the car battery department . The list gets longer every month. Model 3 meanwhile has further problems, as .

By Q4 of 2017, there were already significant worries about Musk’s companies, although they paled compared to what we are now witnessing. To allay concerns, Musk proposed the concept of an “.” The basic idea was “as soon as production gets moving, it will rapidly ramp up in an ever-increasing crescendo.”

The problem is that in the automobile world, the fundamental principle is a chain of production. You get it started, it produces the model, and there you are. It unfortunately seems that Musk has confused the physical world of production with the world of calculations.

Where We Go from Here

I confess that I love Musk. I will love it when he takes me to the moon, to Mars, and when he hooks me up with an electric car at an affordable price.

But what I love most about him currently is his ability to sell dreams with a confidence in himself comparable only to a politician trying to get elected.

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58 comments

  1. Disturbed Voter

    Anyone following the software model of production knows that “time to market” must be minimized … so all products are in perpetual beta, and come with no user manuals. In that context, what would “meeting production deadlines” even mean?

    Eventually to have regular production, you have to stop the inventors doing what they do. And before you do that, you have to stop the visionaries doing what they do.

    1. rd

      The most visionary thing Elon Musk may have done is name the company Tesla. The previous Tesla firm was run by a visionary but did not survive.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I– Panasonic has worked with Tesla to build the Gigafactory or whatever they call it, but they obviously see the real future is with the existing car majors –

    And what about Tesla, a reporter asked. An understandably uncomfortable Tsuga said that as a battery maker, he must strive to offer the best in the business to stay alive, “but the definition of best will change as time goes by. The 18650 and 2170 cells currently are the best in the business, and they are used by Tesla.”

    And then, the shoe dropped.

    “But if you look at the future, where do we see growth?” Tsuga continued. “Which existing car manufacturer will play a leading role? What type of battery will they require?”

    Real automakers like prismatic batteries better, because they allow better use of the limited space in a car, just like a flat battery follows the shape of our cellphones. Tesla loves the little round things that look like AA-batteries in a transistor radio from the last century. “Prismatic batteries are conducive to the design of a vehicle,” Tsuga confirmed, and Toyoda nodded. Tesla didn’t want the prismatic battery, and its alleged Gigafactory is built around the round cells of a bygone past.

    Ouch. Looks like Elon is getting left like a jilted bride at the alter. So much for disruption. The auto majors are going to win when it comes to EV’s.

    1. Enrico Verga

      Yes i think or musk started to early thinking that Car can be disrupted like payment or boh he was trying to squeeze cash from california ( some billions if i properly remember)

      1. Ape

        And payment was disruptible because the us payment system is primitive poor countries.

        So this disruption is simply handling state failure not disruption in the meaningful original sense but the bs sense.

        1. bob

          “us payment system is primitive”

          Tell that to paypal, they built their payment system on top of the us system. AKA the payment system that actually pays.

  3. Sean Wagner

    The exponential ramp in manufacturing is real. No new production line in this dimension exists in a boolean state of dormant perfection before the big switch is flipped.

    The ramp is simply more or less observable depending on the type and volume of product, existing expertise, resources, and vivacity of Mr. Murphy’s gremlins.

    Boeing is a good place to observe the slow ramp. Or total breakdown of a production system.

    I’m sure Tesla might ramp better and faster.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Upping the ante, Tesla has filed yesterday’s press release with the SEC (Form 8-K). It reads in pertinent part:

    Tesla does not require an equity or debt raise this year, apart from standard credit lines.

    Recall that according to its 2017 annual report filed with the SEC on Feb 22, 2018, Tesla’s long term debt mushroomed from $5.86 billion to $9.41 billion during 2017.

    Now the cash-burning company suddenly is going cold turkey on its debt addiction? Ha ha ha ha.

    Musk just gave the SEC the rope it needs to hang him. Still time to blast off for Mars before the bailiffs show up, Elon!

    Making love with his ego
    Elon sucked up into his mind
    Like a leper messiah
    When his car had killed a man I had to break up the band

    — David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

  5. oaf

    First out of the gate; often in a cloud of dust at the finish…Seller of dreams!!! The quasi-narcissistic car stunt may be seminal inspiration for the now youngest generation…inspiring to what?, who knows???

    1. Jim Haygood

      Eric Peters expands on oaf’s riff:

      Even long cons can only run for so long. Musk made promises he couldn’t keep.

      Usually, this leads to SEC investigations. Recall the fate of Preston Tucker. He was vilified. Musk is patiently glad-handed, no matter how often he fails to deliver.

      Because he is in sync with the agenda.

      Because it has been decided that electric/automated cars are The Future – no matter what it costs us.

      Meanwhile, the con has raked in billions for Musk, whose company has yet to earn an honest dollar and burns through dollars at a pace and rate that would leave Kenny Lay boggled, were he still around to witness it.

      Of course, Kenny’s con wasn’t PC – which is why he’s no longer around.

      Elon may last a little longer. But – eventually – reality will bite.

      Cord, Tucker, Tesla: they coulda been contendahs …

      1. Clive

        John Z DeLorean Lives!

        Elon should try to rope the U.K. government in on the grift— a promise of opening a car assembly plant in Northern Ireland should allow for a shakedown of a couple of billion or so.

        Of course, that would only keep Tesla going for a couple of quarters…

        There are however some potential synergies. He could outsource the car electrical systems to a resurrected Lucas.

  6. The Rev Kev

    Microsoft was notorious for pushing software out the door when it was still in a beta state. That meant the all the people that bought the first version of these software programs were in effect unpaid, volunteer beta testers for Microsoft. It became axiomatic that you should never buy anything from Microsoft that was version 1.0 because of this so I was wondering. Could it be that these first generations of Tesla’s cars are in fact the beta versions and that all these drivers are also unpaid testers for Tesla? Just wondering here. It’s a software thing.

  7. Mightydrunken

    Tesla has a lot of problems, but I feel this article is a bit over the top. Elon may break his promises regarding time, the actual destination he hits. Is it really a problem that Tesla has lost two battery technicians?
    Reading why the Tesla truck is apparently not going to work, I came across an error and then SeekingAlpha wanted me to pay for the article. True they do require a lot of electricity, if you want to charge it in 30 minutes and you are a small company than use one of Tesla’s megachargers! I suspect the companies which have pre-ordered the vehicle like Pepsi, Walmart and FedEx know what they are doing and are able to fit the required electrical infrastructure. Listening to many intelligent people discuss the Tesla Semi and I haven’t heard a good reason why it won’t work.
    The articles which claim it won’t use wonky maths. Or say something stupid, like the batteries don’t exist yet. Well sticking together a load of batteries to make a 250kwh battery doesn’t sound too hard, the Model X already has a 100kwh one. Then have 4 250kwh batteries which can be charged simultaneously.

    1. uxxx

      True they do require a lot of electricity

      Understatement. Consider the electric service a truckstop with 10 “pumps” would need. Any public fueling station would be like a small industrial facility.

      Individual gasoline/diesel pumps for passenger cars are capable of energy transfer in the megawatt range. Semi’s fueling 100 gallon tanks are significantly higher. The EV such as tesla gets back maybe a factor of 4x due to inherent efficiency and regenerative braking, but it’s still crazy high energy transfer rate. Long flat cross-country routes may not benefit from regen brakes as much either.

      Consider your “4x 250 kWh” battery stack. That’s 1 MWh. You need Megawatt of electric service to charge it in one hour. That’s a lot. Oh and the thermal output from inefficiency now becomes significant. A mere 5% thermal loss in the “fast charge” process is 50 kW of heat you have to dump.

      1. John k

        Crawl before walk.
        E Trucks probably more useful for local use in and around cities where pollution bigger concern and large electric already delivered, say LA ports. Also, ca has excess solar production in afternoons, charge then, operate at night when congestion low.
        Will begin with niche uses, typ of new tech that starts expensive.

        Interesting musk claims to not need funding… does selling shares count?

        1. uxxx

          Yeah, that’s actually good example of an application.

          Not for mom-and-pop truckers, for sure. Not a “drop-in” replacement for existing trucking use pattern.

          Relationship vs electric company (pricing/negotiating ability/scale of installation) and proximity to substation and being in a cheap electric market are going to be a dominating factor in an e-truck operation.

          I think I see what he means by “distrupt the truck business”. You’d basically have to start a large operation from scratch with these factors in mind — set up in an industrial park (across the street from a power plant, ideally), have a big enough fleet to justify the electric facilities costs, maybe do battery swaps, in order to do load leveling on the electric use, which would be needed to get a good price from the electric company.

      2. Mightydrunken

        I don’t disagree but I am arguing against the sentence in the article which states, “Forget about Tesla trucks – whatever they are, they don’t seem to be a viable business.”

        I have seen plenty of breakdowns of cost and technology viability and the numbers make sense.

        The power requirements for recharging a Semi in 30 minutes is massive. It doesn’t mean that Tesla trucks aren’t viable. A company that buys the Semi chooses to buy it. Therefore it would make sense that they choose it because it suits them. If the route they use it on is less than the range and there is plenty of time to charge it then the power requirements are not nearly as much.
        Even when charging quickly, how many Semis do people expect to be sold? I guess there may be local issues where one company plugs all their Trucks in at the same time, but generally their energy requirement will be spread throughout the country.
        The 1MWh battery is really just my example, nice and round. The maximum battery capacity for the 500 mile range Semi is more likely to be 800KWh or less and the 300 mile range version 500KWh.

    2. Enrico Verga

      Well dont’ forgot i stated i love musk.
      But even if i love him ( professionally speaking) so far his promises were well dust in the air. at best. If we speak about casting satellites in the orbit fine. he’s making money. but a part from it the majority of his companies starting with tesla are underwater..

  8. PKMKII

    Musk would make sense as a minority owner in some tech firm. They can get him to do the PR stuff, speak at conventions, write editorials, even spitball ideas to the other owners. But don’t give him power over anything.

  9. Alex Cox

    “Electric cars are bought because buyers want to do something for the environment.”

    Is this really true? If you want to do something for the environment you shouldn’t drive a car at all. If you must drive one (for example if you live in a rural area without any public transport) you should buy an old Subaru or Toyota and drive it until it dies: such cars and trucks easily manage in excess of 250,000 miles.

    Electric cars are trendy accessories for the rich and upper middle class, subsidized by taxpayers — in the US my taxes go to reduce the purchase price of a rich person’s electric car by $7,500.

    The sooner these subsidies are gone, the better. And maybe one day all the expense of manufacturing an electric car, and disposing of it in a landfill, will be included in what is currently a magic pony price estimate.

    1. gearandgrit

      Yes, because a wealthy person with a commute would definitely just pick up a used Subaru if a Tesla was unavailable to them. What an absolutely silly argument. The people buying Model S cars would otherwise be looking at buying brand spanking new Audi A8/S8, Porsche 911, BMW M5s, etc… All of which get about 12-16 MPG in typical driving situations.

      “all the expense of manufacturing an electric car, and disposing of it in a landfill, will be included in what is currently a magic pony price estimate”

      Same could be said of all vehicles, hell of most products. It’s a good discussion to have, but one the world isn’t ready to take on. You should be charged out the ass for buying a Chevy Camaro for example as it’s one of the least reliable cars on the road and will be in a landfill much sooner than say a Toyota 4Runner which is one of the most likely current year models to get to 200k+ miles. But we all know that isn’t happening any time soon.

      1. uxxx

        Problem is, there aren’t enough Audi/BMW buyers to support a 400k/year manufacturing capacity Musk has in mind for the model 3. And he’s right to insist on going to that scale, because there is the overhead of operating the whole ecosystem of support activities that comes with running a car company.

        Therefore the Model 3 has to have appeal to kinds of people who buy the higher trim on like the Camry/Accord. We’re talking comfortable suburban households. Targeting the high-30k price range is exactly the right thing to do in that sense.

        1. Altandmain

          The issue is that the Model 3 right now is a 50 to 60k car.

          It is likely that he will struggle to breakeven below 45k.

      2. Altandmain

        I strongly disagree with this quote.

        Yes, because a wealthy person with a commute would definitely just pick up a used Subaru if a Tesla was unavailable to them. What an absolutely silly argument. The people buying Model S cars would otherwise be looking at buying brand spanking new Audi A8/S8, Porsche 911, BMW M5s, etc… All of which get about 12-16 MPG in typical driving situations.

        Judging by this quote, you don’t hang around car enthusiast communities often. Hint: Car enthusiasts are quite anti-Tesla.

        It’s the techies who have money that are into Tesla. Part of that is because the Tesla fanatics have done endlessly attacked and trolled car enthusiasts. However a lot of that is because car enthusiasts understand the limitations of electric cars too.

        Teslas due to electric motors do out accelerate gasoline engines, but the advantage ends there. The issue is that the batteries tend to overheat, forcing the car into limp mode.

        For non car enthusiasts, that is not an exceptional lap time. Here is some reading for you:

        Tesla has tried to address these problems with OTA updates, but the issues are hardware in nature. In other words, the Tesla Model S is good at drag strips, but not at serious races. A serious car manufacturer might someday be able to address this and make an Ev competitive in motorsports, but that would require a lot of battery cooling.

        Likewise the poor quality control is a big issue for the luxury segment. For those who are buying Mercedes S class and similar cars, luxury is what matters. That is an area that Tesla cannot hope to compete in. The only cars buyers in that segment will be willing to consider is cars with comparable build quality. If you have read my previous posts, you’ll note that I have critiqued Tesla’s panel gaps. Hint – they are not just for aesthetic purposes, but also to restrict road noise, which is extremely important in this segment.

        Finally on the note of self driving cars, enthusiasts don’t care for that as much as techies. Enthusiasts take joy in driving. To the car enthusiast community, Autopilot’s hype is proof that techies don’t like to drive.

        Tesla isn’t displacing cars like the Cadillac CTS V. It is displacing Priuses and cars that Techies, most of whom were emotionally not invested in cars before, drive, typically Camrys and the like.

        1. BondsOfSteel

          Electric cars are awesome. I have a Volt, and I love it. Not just because I never have to put gas in it, Ok… once or twice a year, but gone are the chilly/wet days standing outside filling it up. Since you top off of on electrons every night, needing to fill up when your in a hurry?: A thing of the past.

          On/Off in an instant… no warming it up. I love that it’s so quiet. Stopped at traffic lights, I can hear birds sing. In stop and go traffic I only hear other vehicles. When more people get them, the highways and cities will be so much more pleasant.

          Electric cars are the future… I’ll never buy another gas one.

  10. eudora welty

    I was excited about the Tesla Model 3. I hoped it would be my next car. If I was more money-spendy, I would have gotten in line with a deposit, as some colleagues did. But the middle class is vanishing faster than Tesla can make cars! I don’t think I can afford one anymore.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Lend money to an unprofitable cash-burning company with a deep-junk credit rating?

      Among its current liabilities, Tesla’s balance sheet shows $854 million of customer deposits. Current liabilities exceed current assets, meaning Tesla is operating with $1.1 billion of deficit working capital.

      Presumably Tesla’s hapless depositors will be pretty far down the food chain in bankruptcy, compared to senior note holders. Bummer …

      We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
      And then we’ll take it higher
      Oh we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
      And then we’ll take it higher

      — Eddy Grant

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        The depositors are unsecured creditors.

        Should more than a handful start asking for their money back, and word gets out, it’s game over, and the media narrative will rapidly change from “at your (Elon’s) feet” to “at your throat.”

        1. Jim Haygood

          Effectively Tesla is using $854 million of customer deposits as working capital, as well as another $2.39 billion of accounts payable owed to vendors. Yet working capital is still $1.1 billion in deficit.

          Supposedly higher production is going to rescue Tesla from this deep hole. This rather appalling chart shows that it’s not happening:

          To be fair, one more data point is now available. According to a Bloomberg article yesterday, Tesla built 2,020 Model 3 cars in the last seven days.

          Having worked in a production environment, I smell a desperate end-of-quarter push, accomplished with lots of overtime, emptying out parts bins, etc. Will Tesla produce another 2,000 or more cars this week? I doubt it. But Elon’s sleeping in the plant now, so miracles are possible.

  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    The problem with Tesla is that the whole model is an extension of the Software/Dotcom model, ship then fix, update and patch, etc.

    The problem is that the only times that this transition has actually made it to meat space is either because they took advantage of some sort of subsidy (Amazon and sales taxes, PayPal and being allowed to ignore banking standards, etc.) or because they break the law (Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, etc.)

    With the Tesla automobile, they cannot get subsidies from reality of manufacturing a physical thing, and they cannot break the laws of statistics in terms of quality.

    1. John

      I’ll add the notion that there is nothing innovative about Tesla cars. Electric cars are fairly simple, a frame, a battery and an electric motor. One could rethink the idea of personal transportation, but Tesla is not that. You could also rethink car manufacturing, but Tesla is not that. As a result, the barrier to competition is not high. They are building cars in a conventional manner while competing with companies like Toyota that developed manufacturing of reliable cars to a high art.

      1. cnchal

        . . . the barrier to competition is not high. . .

        When are we going to hear about John’s New Car Company?

  12. Louis Fyne

    Tesla is a nice allegory for today’s greenwashing.

    Turning down your thermostat to 63, consuming less widgets from France, Australia and China, and flying less takes actual sacrifice.

    Buy an electric car optimized for performance which gets 75%+ of its electricity from a fossil fuel.

    I love the Earth! See my Tesla says so

  13. third time lucky

    Tax payer scam, like his rockets, but compared to under, maybe less of scam… But yeah, still a scam.

  14. Winslow R.

    Yves, this post is bogus. I will cut off my funding to your site if you keep this up as you become just another echo of the msm.

    1. Yves Smith

      Making a threat rather than an argument is no way to persuade anyone. Your comment is in violation of our written Policies. Even if you have supported the site, and I see no evidence of that, donations don’t confer the right to violate comments policies.

  15. human

    I give him one virtue: Good salesman/con man.

    Anyone steeped in the sci-fi of the past 60 years has as much “vision” as he has.

    They called them robber barrons for a reason.

  16. Widowson

    I’m reminded of a great line heard at a sales-centric Meetup group I attend periodically; I’m also in product development so I work with start-up & early stage company CEO’s all the time and can vouch for its truthiness:
    “What’s the difference between a Salesman and an Entrepreneur? The Salesman knows when he’s lying.”
    In the case of Elon Musk you get both (and neither)!

  17. Altandmain

    Tesla may be an exceptional salesman, but he seems to be incapable of showing humility and greatly underestimated the challenges becoming a mass producer of vehicles.

    There are quality and reliability issues with his vehicles that are seldom seen in the established car manufacturers. The high turnover of key staff suggests that the situation on the ground is quite different than the public relations.

    Manufacturing is quite different from software in that there is a split between engineering and production. The reason why you do not have many concept cars that enter production is because of the challenges in designing for mass production. That type of challenge is not present in software where there are massive economies of scale. Hardware has to be designed for production.

    Another issue is that while over the air updates are possible for software and infotainment system issues, there are limitations. You must take cars to the service center for hardware defects.

    The final issue is that the Model 3 would, even if the best scenario occurred, be a vehicle that barely broke even if it were a 35k car. Now that it is a 50k to 60k car, the competition is how does the Model 3 compared to other luxury cars. While true that luxury cars are where the profits are, even that requires a solid execution.

    We may simply not see very many Model 3s below 45k. It may be that Tesla simply cannot make money on the 35k model.

  18. John k

    Most here think we should move away from fossil?
    And think gov should provide subsidies to encourage same?
    And agree an e product must be popular enough to sell, with or without the subsidy? Unlike, say, the volt? And speaking of us mfrs, how much faith should we have that any of them will make a popular e car any time soon? They’d rather make heavy trucks.
    And ideally the rich should make the investments needed, either loans, shares, or product, for the not subsidized bits?
    And the product should be made here, with us labor?

    What’s wrong with the Tesla picture?
    Musk might not make it, but we are much further along than if he had never dreamed.
    Personally I hope he succeeds, and don’t care how much he makes if he does.

  19. oaf

    When all have gone to electric vehicles, what will be the effect on the power grid? Who will pay to upgrade it? (if required), (yah, dumb question) May give *rolling brownouts* a whole new meaning! While Kw prices soar…

    1. uxxx

      The theoretical solution to that is to network the charging stations, and have them phone the mothership whenever powered up. So they know to soft-start or throttle back if appropriate.

      I went thru the numbers on this casually. It’s more of a peak power (and therefore capacity-cost) issue, rather than an average-power issue.

      Charge-at-home-at-night in the suburbs is fine, an extra 50-100A per single family home is ok for the today’s grid. Any “fast” charging station, including the dream of the urban garage with plugs at each parking space – that most definitely will push the limits and exceed cost expectations.

  20. kareninca

    I would never buy a Tesla – what a waste of money – but I am fond of them for a selfish reason. Here in Silicon Valley the demographic that buys them would otherwise buy monster SUVs; they are the other trendy thing for people who feel the need for attention. Driving around doing errands, it is far less repulsive for me to share the road with a Tesla: you can see around them, they can see you, they are big (I drive a Honda Civic) but they are not enormous so if they hit me it wouldn’t be as bad as a collision with a SUV.

  21. bob

    I just spoke to Elon. He had this to offer, which he relayed via a nixie Morse code platform-

    “We are researching how to make manufacturing lines more circular. We just need more capital.

    Lines are ugly, inefficient and leave no room for improvisation. One start, one end.

    Circles are positive, and regenerative, like the cars I am building.

    We’ve learned that this is harder than anticipated. We’ve moved onto ovals to try and square these circles.

    –Elon, your rocket man”

  22. Altandmain

    Well it looks like Tesla is on the hook for anti-union issues:

    Meanwhile, China might add tariffs:

  23. The Rev Kev

    I may be channeling Kunstler here but could it be that the reason that Tesla cars have so much support behind them is that it keeps alive the dream of suburban life? What I mean is that after WW2, suburbs exploded across the world which required highway systems to go between the suburbs and cities where people actually worked. It also made possible things like suburban malls but the point is that this all depended on the possession of personal cars.
    The future is starting to shaping up to be something much more different such as smaller cities that are walkable to a large extent, public transport and worse to far too many – the end of owning your own personal car. The dream of electric, self-navigating personal cars seems to me just another way to keep our way of lifestyle going hence all the support that Musk is getting. People want him to succeed and are offering him money up front to do so as car deposits.

  24. John Beech

    Unlike the naysayers in the above comments, I wish Elon Musk nothing but the best. Sleeping on the factory floor is what a true believer does, and he’s doing it. And note, I have no dog in the hunt because I neither own stock (never have) or one of his vehicles (although I eagerly pop outside to watch FL launches from my Central FL home). The point? Along with sleeping on the floor he may wish to consider a serious bump in pay for the workers willing to slave alongside him in the attempt to save the company by ramping up production to double where it stands. But that’s just me, a semi-interested observer flapping my jaws with no inside knowledge. Pretty easy to Monday morning quarterback isn’t it? Then again, my own business usually begins with a product sketched on the back of a paper plate, evolves into a drawing within the CAD system, becomes a prototype (maybe several), before finally entering production. Then the real fun begins as we see if sales meet expectations. Thus, unlike many (most?) of the above busy running off at the mouth regarding this, I have a minuscule inkling of what Tesla face . . . and my heart remains firmly in their camp. Won’t stop me from (perhaps in the future) purchasing shares or bonds if they looks cheap, but I’m not there at this point in time.

    1. bob

      “becomes a prototype (maybe several), before finally entering production. Thus, unlike many (most?) running off at the mouth about this, I have a minuscule inkling of what Tesla face”

      As you noted, he’s at the end of the prototype phase, or that’s what they claim anyway. You only detailed development. How often is that the end of your production? That’s where tesla is, and they keep moving the goalposts. How often would your customers accept that? Do you have a waiting list that lasted years?

      The helpfully offended look is a bit much. There I go, it’s not a bit much — it’s completely over the top. I am there at this point in time.

      The billionaire underdog marketing is well past its sell by date. How much more production of that can we expect? There’s no shortage of it. Plenty of marketing, not enough production, which is what the story, and it’s title say. It’s up there at the top.

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