By on February 19, 2008

Tesla Motors has apparently run out of toilet paper again. Valleywag reports that they're off in search of another $250m to keep the lights on fund development of the "Whitestar" electric sedan. That's right, if you have a quarter of a billion dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you too can invest in a company that has produced exactly one working "production" car (delivered to the company's CEO) in five years, in exchange for over $145m and Federal regulatory exemptions. I'm not an expert, but this strikes me as a particularly optimistic investment. Oh, and Tesla also wants a guaranteed loan from the Department of Energy to build a factory for these new electric sedans. To quote President Bush, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me – you can't fool me again." [NB: I know we're a little late to this story, but that's kind of appropriate don't you think? And here's an old video for potential investors that shows the critical coverage given Tesla by our blogging pals. Driving range of 250 miles. Those were the days…]  

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10 Comments on “Tesla Birth Watch 35: Redefining Chutzpah...”

  • avatar

    The idea is exciting. The car should be workable. The price is way too high for me to ever consider, but I had serious hopes that this car might impress on other manufacturers to make full-plugin cars – take the same principle and apply it to a 2-3 seater lightweight hatch a bit smaller than a Yaris (EDIT: Something sized like the Toyota iQ), and start a new line of electic-only vehicles.

    Unfortunately, only discouraging news. The company seems optimistic, and the one hands-on review I’ve read tried to keep the same optimism.. but no working transmission? Who would pay this much money for new technology when we’re being told “Hey! It’s completely unreliable! But we will replace the broken parts soon, we promise!”

    I understand that making a car is not easy/cheap. I also understand that this process usually takes a lot of time, especially when dealing with new technology. What I don’t understand is why people have been driving their modified Prius cars on electric-only for years, yet the one Tesla on display has a one-speed admittedly-weak transmission (I’m no engineer, but if the car reverses by actually reversing the engine, eliminating the need for a reverse gearing, what is the point in a single-speed transmission?)

    “Oh, by the way, we’re also making a sedan.”

    Just a thought, but shouldn’t the drivetrain be properly engineered BEFORE you start building other cars on the same platform?

  • avatar

    There was an amusing article in the FT this weekend on the topic of the Tesla, they do seem to have a working press department. The article spoke of how Tesla was set to transform automotion — I found the mention of how Tesla was letting other carmakers gain access to their technology particularly amusing, and wondered what technology that could be?
    Lotus is building the chassis; the transmission is OEM; the battery pack likewise. Maybe the wheel?

  • avatar

    Re: Tesla’s ‘technology’

    My understanding is that packing that many Lithium-Ion batteries together that densely is a recipe for conflagration (Sony laptop batteries, anyone?).

    Tesla spent a lot of time, effort and (someone else’s) money developing monitoring and control systems to keep the battery pack well-behaved.

  • avatar

    The single Tesla car exists only because it was made by a real company, Lotus. History buffs will be familiar with a similar venture to make a “dream car” work with massive government subsidies and Lotus design: the DeLorean.

    Check out the book Wayward Genius for a great account of the scams involved in creating the DMC. The Tesla saga sounds awfully familiar.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988).

    The movie makes a case for Tucker, but the real automotive history is the Tatra, a sad victim of communism. The pre-WWII, Tatra 77A had a CDx of 0.212. a number few cars hit today.

    The Tatra was rear engine, rear drive with an air-cooled V8! They were wicked fast:

    Many German officers met their deaths driving heavy, rear-engined Tatras faster around corners than they could handle. The Tatra, in fact, became known as the Czech Secret Weapon for the scores of officers who died behind the wheel; at one point official orders had to be issued forbidding German officers from driving Tatras.

  • avatar

    To be fair, Tesla is only really asking for another $50M for the development of the Whitestar. The other $200M is for executive compensation.

  • avatar

    RichardD :
    February 19th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    The single Tesla car exists only because it was made by a real company, Lotus. History buffs will be familiar with a similar venture to make a “dream car” work with massive government subsidies and Lotus design: the DeLorean.

    There were a lot more Deloreans produced than Teslas.

  • avatar

    Solar Panels? Energy Positive? Musk, lets work on delivering what was promised to investors the first round.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The additional $250-million is for a really long extension cord.

  • avatar

    Jason Calacanis (spelling) should be able to help out. I just listened to the latest Twit epsiode, where he mentioned Tesla by name maybe 50+ times. He believes he will take delivery in the 1st quarter of 09′

    I’m waiting……………

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