By on February 21, 2013

As a retired operative of the auto propaganda community, I watched the schoolyard brawl between Tesla’s Elon Musk and the New York Time’s John Broder with detached interest. I won’t re-hash it again. Unless you live in a monastery in Tibet, and your Samsung Note 2 was impounded, because you were caught masturbating to Google image search, it was impossible to escape the fallout from the war of tweets, blogs, and counter-tweets. To this day, bullets and barbs still ricochet through the Internet. Only hours ago, Musk was still seen tweeting about an “impressively out of touch NYT auto editor,” while the world at large is utterly confused. And that is the true tragedy. This after-action report is dedicated to the victims.

At the end of a modern war, both sides declare themselves winners and go home, leaving behind ruins and scorched earth. Same thing happened after the Total Tesla Twitter War. Both sides of the spectrum, the EV-haters and the EV-lovers, say they won this one. Who lost then? Tesla did, and along with Tesla, the fledgling EV industry. Tesla may have won the argument, but it lost the now completely confounded hundreds of millions of people caught between the tweeting fronts.

The radicals, EV lovers and haters alike, do not need any convincing. Who needs to be convinced are the gasoline-powered hundreds of millions of people, called consumers, who buy a car not as a science experiment, or as a display of political leanings. They buy a car to get them from A to B without fuss, maybe with a spontaneous detour to C. They get anxious when the gas gauge approaches empty, and when there isn’t a gas station after a few more miles, on their side of the road, preferably. They will not buy a car that demands the same level of high anxiety all the way from Washington, DC, to Boston. They also won’t wait an hour for the car to fill up.

The Total Tesla Twitter War, and trust me, none of the hundreds of millions did escape the ferocious carpet bombing, could not have been better planned by an axis of evil, formed by BP, Shell Oil, and Valero.  Shell-shocked consumers are left with the impression that a normal ride in one of those electric vehicles must be planned like an Atlantic crossing in a single engine plane. They were told by CNN, a network that had set out to prove Broder wrong,  that the “most scary part of the trip” was 200 miles long. They heard that a group of Tesla-aficionados, likewise on the road to exonerate Tesla,  needed to be provided with “multiple versions of beta software” flashed onto one owner’s car multiple times, to continue the trip.

During the Total Tesla Twitter War, hundreds of millions of people, also known as “the car market” learned that to drive an EV, one better pick a not so cold day for the outing, because the heat must be kept down. You must drive below the legal limit, and not stray from the New Jersey Turnpike. The response of the hundreds of millions? “Very interesting. I know, electric cars are the future. Call me when simple people like me can use them.”

The 20 million or so who live around New York City and points East were completely lost to the electric cause once the Cross Bronx Expressway was mentioned in the reports. In a (well-maintained and gassed-up) regular car, that piece of scenic roadway is passed only with the utmost trepidation. In an electric car? “Are you kidding me?”

I was professionally horrified when I heard of Elon Musk taking to Twitter, calling John Broder a fake. If I had not read about it in Reuters, I would not even have noticed the article in the Times. It was Musk’s tweet, and not Broder’s piece that started the war. Where I worked most of my professional life, CEO’s of car companies did not tweet. They didn’t even do email, their secretaries did, somewhere by the turn of the millennium. “But that’s just how Elon is,” said someone who is familiar with the situation, as they say. “If you buy a Toyota, you won’t meet Akio. Buy a Model S, and you will meet Elon. It’s unavoidable.”

A CEO of a real car company would never stoop so low and lambast a newspaper writer for a botched review. In the executive suite, car reviews are not read or taken seriously anyway. If a story is really bad, the CEO will call his chief of PR, upbraid him or her for not having the media under control, and let them handle it. A professional PR chief will know that attracting extra attention is what you absolutely do not want to do in that situation. The matter is handled over the phone, or over lunch, and next time, when there is a car launch on the Fiji islands: “Sorry, all seats are booked.” In really, really, really bad cases, when foul play is involved, you sue and let the lawyers handle it. But always stay out of the limelight, and keep your hands off Twitter. Or, as we had to repeat daily in the industry: “If you step in the shit, don’t run around the house.”

A CEO of a real car company also would have listened to his PR and Marketing people, and he would not send his car into a fight it will lose. These daylong press drives between Supercharger stations are the result of a Musk obsession with the Great American Road Trip. At the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, the electrified sports car was driven en masse from California to Cobo Hall. At the launch of the Tesla Supercharger, a thing that looks like a roadside advertisement for a sex aid, a sadly forgotten Brad Berman drove 531 miles from Tahoe to LA and wrote it up in the New York Times. Another customer drove from Las Vegas to the event, replicating a Motor Trend trip. One of these stunts is bound to go wrong, and Broder’s did.

A CEO of a real car company would congratulate his marketing and PR people for positioning the car as how an EV, and frankly a sporty car should be positioned: For quick trips around town or down to the beach. For a road trip, use the SUV.  Trust me, people who have $100,000 for  an electric car, will fly from DC to Boston. Usually, in a Lear. Environmentally responsible billionaires shun the Gulfstream.

Some say, Musk had to do something, because the story sent the Tesla stock in a tailspin. Let’s look at the chart. When the story ran on February 8, the stock was unimpressed, and pretty much moved sideways. Traders don’t read the car pages of the Times, they read “The Tape”, and Barrons on Sunday. Sure, on Monday the 11th, the stock opened a buck and change down, only to recover to its old trajectory during the trading day. At 2:30 pm, TSLA is back at 38.92. Then suddenly, it goes into a tailspin.  What happened at 2:30 pm on February 11?

At  2:30 pm, Musk tweeted his infamous  “NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake”. Blogs, retweets, soon all of the media drew attention to a Musk vs. New York Times mudslinging. Promptly, the stock went south again. Lost in the fog of the Total Tesla Twitter War, the TSLA share was shot out of the sky and landed at $37 on the 15th . On the 19th, it changed course, to end up where it had been the week before.

Again, people can read into it whatever they want. The Musk-for-president camp will blame Broder for the loss, and will explain the recovered stock with Tesla’s vindication. The EVs-are-evil camp will say the stock was sold by people learning the truth. The street says these are the typical pre-earnings gyrations, driven by option plays. There was an earnings announcement on Wednesday, the news (“Loss Widens at Electric-Car Maker”) were what one is used to hear from Tesla, the stock shrugged it off. All I can say is that the brouhaha did not instill confidence. Neither in the stock, nor in the car.

PS: Today, the Tesla share is down hard, nearly 10 percent at the time of this typing. I am awaiting a tweet from Elon any minute. Time to go into hiding.

 

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97 Comments on “Who Lost The Total Tesla Twitter War? An After Action Report...”


  • avatar
    wmba

    Exactly. An excellent piece.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Interesting take. The real takeaway for me is this EV stuff is still not ready for prime time.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Indeed, the Great Twitter War confused a lot of folks who do not understand the technology.
    Unfortunately with the 787′s battery woes, people have become further disoriented.

    That is why I strongly applaud yesterday’s piece by Alex Sykes….it explained lots of complex details in a simple, straightforward fashion.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    So put simply, Tesla builds luxurious golf carts that are fast enough to drive around a city. I appreciate the tremendous technical accomplishments that had to have been made to get EVs to this point, but as stated in the article… “call me when the future is here.”

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The federal government going further into debt to subsidize a billionaire in his hobby of building social jewelry for millionaires.

      The future is now.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        In fairness Dan they need the peasants to subsidize their green Tesla purchases so they can afford the energy to heat and cool their giant houses. It ain’t cheap. The problem is complicated by the fact that many of them also have vacation homes, which also need to be heated and cooled. I think you could be a little more understanding.

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    “Who Lost The Total Tesla Twitter War? An After Action Report…”

    Who cares?

  • avatar
    probert

    I think Musk’s reply wasn’t the best but your report isn’t accurate.

    The cnn reporter duplicated the ride – detours and all with no issues.

    The spontaneous owner drive had 1 car out of many have a glitch – it wasn’t stranded it wasn’t out of juice – the glitch was fixed with a download so quickly he caught up with the others and they all cruised in leather bound comfort to Boston.

    Tesla is a real car company – it employs real people in a real factory. It has really licensed its tech to Toyota and Daimler – which are also real.

    All this done in the midst of a real recession. The venture and the ev infrastructure is nascent (this refers to the super stations – there are lots of electrical outlets – you’ll find them in your own home) but it is exciting.

    If successful EVs would break america’s ties to foreign oil. I think this is more important than your offended sense of decorum.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Look, you want to break ties to oil? Tax it.

      The Tesla is a stylish and luxurious way to get around supremely inconveniently. When your Tesla is out of juice, you have 3 great options for refilling it:

      - You tie up to the nearest wall socket, presuming you’re carrying a long enough extension cord, and take 40 to 60 hours to refuel your car.
      - You return to your home or maybe find a Wal*Mart, where you or the store has installed a $2K charger and refuel your Tesla in 8-16 hours.
      - You drive (or push) your Tesla to the nearest Supercharger (the closest to me is 1100 miles away), where you refuel in 1 to 1.5 hours.

      These are inconveniences that the EV nuts are willing to accept but which normal people, with things to do, places to be and schedules to keep, will find annoying.

      The spontaneous owner drive, by the way, pointed up one more fun thing about inter-city EV travel… not everybody could be first in line at the Superchargers. If you aren’t, there’s another delightful hour spent at a fast food restaurant on the side of the highway before you can start your hour of refuelling. Oh, yeah, baby, I’m driving to Connecticut to visit a fast food restaurant on the side of the highway.

      I wonder how many people took the ramp into that rest area, refueled with gas and rocketed back onto the highway to get on with their real lives in five minutes while those Tesla owners were drinking coffee, socializing, laughing and waiting… waiting… waiting…?

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        Dittos.

      • 0 avatar
        sbunny8

        @KixStart If you live in a place where the nearest supercharger is 1100 miles away, you probably shouldn’t drive an EV.

        Your list of “3 great options for refilling” an EV assumes that you ran out of juice so far from your destination that you need a FULL charge to get you there. That almost never happens. Seriously, if I’m out driving in my EV and oops I didn’t keep an eye on my fuel gauge and uh oh I’m dead in the water 10 miles from my house… I don’t need a full charge to get home. I only need a couple kWh. That only takes 2 hours at any 110V outlet using my portable charger, or 40 minutes at a 220V charger (like the kind they have at Wal-Mart) or about 90 seconds at a fast charger. Then once I get home I leave it plugged in overnight and I don’t care whether it takes 10 minutes or 10 hours because I’m home for the night.

        Also, you forgot the fourth option, the same one every ICEV driver has when they run out of gasoline. Call AAA.

        Yeah, running out of fuel isn’t fun, and it’s not something you want to do every week, but it’s not nearly as bad as you make it sound.

        Very rarely do I actually stand around waiting while my EV is hooked up to a charger. Usually, I get up in the morning, drive the EV around town, come home at night and glance at the fuel gauge. If it’s below half, I plug in overnight and it’s charged up the next morning. If it’s above half, I don’t bother to plug it in tonight and wait until tomorrow. It’s easy for me.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        sbunny8: “Seriously, if I’m out driving in my EV and oops I didn’t keep an eye on my fuel gauge and uh oh I’m dead in the water 10 miles from my house… I don’t need a full charge to get home. I only need a couple kWh. That only takes 2 hours at any 110V outlet using my portable charger, or 40 minutes at a 220V charger (like the kind they have at Wal-Mart) or about 90 seconds at a fast charger. Then once I get home I leave it plugged in overnight and I don’t care whether it takes 10 minutes or 10 hours because I’m home for the night.”

        Unless you’re not home for the night. Life is full of surprises. As I said, the phone rings and your plans change and you’re going out again. Thank goodness you’ve still got a gasser.

        Calling AAA, by the way, will not be very helpful. They’re not going to bring you 24KWH of electricity in a little container.

        I rely on having a car. I could probably get along with an EV as a second or third car but the slow pace of refuelling guarantees it will be inconvenient, at some time, if it’s your only car.

      • 0 avatar
        sbunny8

        @KixStart you say AAA won’t bring me 24kWh of electricity. You keep ignoring what I said, I don’t need a full charge, I only need about 2kWh, enough to make up the difference between how far I thought I could go and how far I actually went. And yes I have heard rumors that AAA actually is deploying trucks which have a 220V generator so they can give me 2kWh of electricity in 40 minutes. But that’s not what I meant when I said “call AAA”. I meant they could send a rollback to tow me 10 miles, the same as what they would do if you blew a head gasket in your ICEV. In six months, I’ve yet to need this service but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.

        99% of the time, owning an EV is actually easier for me than owning an ICEV. If the 1% inconvenience is too much for you, don’t buy an EV.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        sbunny8:

        I should have said, “AAA can’t give you 24kwh of electricity in a few minutes.” They do now have the capability, in some few places, to bring you a generator. Do you love standing by the side of the road?

        And you’re missing the point… You do not *know* that you will be home for the evening on any given evening. There is always the possibility that you will arrive home and discover that you must go out again. If you’ve reached home with insufficient charge to make that new trip, you wait. There have been plenty of times in my household that this would have been inconvenient.

        I have to wonder where you get the notion that an EV is more convenient 99% of the time. Most days, I get up, turn the key and leave. It’s hard to beat that. Once in a while, I go to the gas station and, yes, maybe, an EV plugged in every day on the way into the house or office, is more convenient than that but I’ve timed my stops and it’s 4 minutes, somewhere between once every 2 weeks and once every 6 weeks, depending on exatly where I’ve been.

        Nor do I spend much time thinking about how much fuel is on board and where I need to go in relation to it. If I don’t have enough fuel to reach a given destination, there’s going to be a fuel stop available along the way. A Prius, which has a nominal 500 mile highway range, takes on additional range at a gas pump at a rate of over 150 miles per minute. The Tesla Superchargers add perhaps 4 miles of range per minute to a Tesla (that’s under ideal weather ocnditions and using moderate speeds).

        Now, this is relevant here because the NYT test wasn’t about whether or not a BEV is a suitable vehicle for use around town; it generally is. I’d consider one as a second car, if the price was right (but it’s not and it’s not close, even after the tax credit). Tesla proposed the NYT take the Tesla from DC to New England as a demonstration that the long range of the Tesla and the Supercharger networ makes extended travel in the Tela practical.

        Well, not yet, it doesn’t. It is likely that more Superchargers or ubiquitous Superchargers will help but the 4 miles/minute rate is a big limitation.

    • 0 avatar
      vaujot

      Have you read Bertel’s biography? He’s worked in PR for what he considers a real car company (i.e. Volkswagen). He knows what he’s talking about here.
      I doubt his sense of decorum was offended but his sense of professionalism. And I agree. “Electric car runs out of power on a long-distance drive in the cold” is hardly a story. “Celebrity billionaire launches twitter campaign over critical news item” is. I agree that if EVs succeeding would be a good thing for the reasons you mention, but to do so, their engineering has to be better than their PR.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      For electric vehicles to be successful, they will have to meet people’s needs and desires (i.e., they will offer the same range, convenience and performance offered by current, conventional vehicles).

      When this happens, I’m sure plenty of people will be happy to buy one, as most people don’t care what powers their vehicle, as long as it works up to expectations.

      Telling potential customers to rearrange their lives around the limitations of current electric vehicles will not work.

      Henry Ford I didn’t hit it big by bad-mouthing horses, or telling people that they were dumb not to switch from a horse to a car, or telling people how they should rearrange their lives to make that switch. He offered potential customers something better.

      I hope Tesla succeeds. But that will most likely happen after the Leonardo DiCaprio’s of the world serve as the beta-testers.

    • 0 avatar

      Big secret, don’t tell anyone: People buy a car primarily as a means to individual mobility. They do not buy a car to jump-start the economy, or to break ties to foreign oil, or to save the planet, or to reduce unemployment. If they say they do, they lie. They want the damn car.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @probert: +1

      @Bertel: If you meant to say the ‘real CEO of a car company’ rather than the ‘CEO of a real car company’, please correct it. You haven’t said anything about Tesla’s not being real, but you’ve said plenty about Elon Musk.

      Tesla is a ‘real car company’; Elon Musk can tweet all he wants. Part of Tesla’s distinction is that it doesn’t look like all the other ‘real’ car companies.

      Besides, how many US car companies have launched and succeeded in the last 40 years? Few, if any. In today’s instant world, impressions are made by sundown. Musk is right to combat negligent journalists.

      Overall, instead of harming the EV market, I think the mess has served the future EV market well – by setting realistic expectations. Consumers learned from Broder’s experience that an EV is not a ‘prime time’ vehicle in terms of carefree ownership. But they also learned that the EPA and mfrs haven’t really devised a legitimate way to describe ‘range’.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeGuy

        @gslippy Spot on.

        Last time I checked, a company who “bucked the trend” and did things differently ended up becoming one of the most successful companies in the history of modern business. That company prides itself on operating differently. I hail Musk for his courage to call out bad media. The media needs to be held to a HIGHER standard, which in the age of the NYTimes & Fox News seems to be completely absent.

        So anyways, where was I? Who is that company, that bucked the trends, did things differently, and is now admired and nearly imitated by all?

        Apple of course.

      • 0 avatar
        RogueInLA

        It’s premature to call Tesla a success, if it survives it will be as a specialty vehicle, purchased by a small niche who can afford the high price, and are willing to live with the limitations. Pure EVs are a long way from being a major player in the marketplace. How far would Tesla be without government money? Would Musk have been willing to wade into the EV waters without subsidies? They’re an interesting side trip in the automotive highway. If their purpose is to lower carbon, wean people from gasoline, and change the world, they have a long way to go. Hybrids are a far better solution.

        @SomeGuy; Don’t forget, Apple almost wound up as the answer to a “Where are they now?” trivia question if they hadn’t received an infusion of cash from Microsoft. True, they (Steve Jobs) did wonders with it, but they weren’t always a success story. Designing a product that identified and filled a need isn’t ‘bucking a trend’, it’s just good business.

        I don’t know that Tesla is filling a need that millions and millions of people have.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …If successful EVs would break america’s ties to foreign oil. I think this is more important than your offended sense of decorum…

      But as posted here on TTAC, and by a number of recent reports – America is on its way to only needing Canada and maybe Mexico for imports on oil by 2020 – and on a path to energy independence.

      The higher price of oil per barrel makes domestic production plausible.

      New technologies are enabling access to oil that couldn’t be tapped.

      New discoveries in existing areas are being made.

      We’re only importing about 35% of our oil now from OPEC nations. Our two biggest trade partners are Canada and Mexico, and Saudi Arabia is only clinging to third place.

      Total US energy consumption is down 20% in some reports. In a previous thread I linked to the government report that shows that energy use is down about 14.4%, with coal and oil use plummeting and natural gas, biomass, and renewable exploding. That 14.4% drop in just in seven years. It is not because of the recession – you can see the uptick in late 2009/2010 as the economy hit bottom and then the total usage continued to decline.

      The United States largest net export two years in a row now is refined fuel products, gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel. We have massive over capacity for refining.

      By all projects, between conversation through appliances, lighting, industrial machinery and transportation, US energy consumption could drop another 20%.

      And finally, the “clean coal” industry thanks you for your strawman that electric cars somehow solve our energy and pollution problems. The real truth is, the work that started in the 2000′s is really taking hold, and is bearing out some real results.

      Get off of foreign oil? We’re well on our way as it is.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian H

        Already most supply is domestic. The M/E is 35% of the rest! Not of the total. Of the imports, the largest source is Canada.

        The US is de facto an Oil Power, and is about to become an Oil Empire.

    • 0 avatar
      dougjp

      Call it niche excitement, or artificially created excitement. Plugging in one of these cars to charge, watching paint dry, or other stillborn activities that otherwise put one’s life on hold, run past the other 99+% of the population’s patience level in way less than 5 minutes. You can only do tea drinking poetry reading sessions with the like minded so many times.

      Therefore, pure EV is not an answer to any question. Rather, its yet another new toy or diversion which has dual promoters, government and marketers. Most people will not be forced into a lifestyle they hate. Or put another way, did prohibition work?

  • avatar
    vww12

    «Trust me, people who have $100,000 for an electric car, will fly from DC to Boston. Usually, in a Lear. Environmentally responsible billionaires shun the Gulfstream.»

    Heh.

  • avatar
    ToxicSludge

    Until battery tech undergoes some MAJOR advancements,ev’s will remain the secondary transportation mode for someone who just drives it maybe 20 miles total on their shopping trip,and it’s not too hot,and it’s not too cold,and they made sure the batts have been plugged in for the last three days…..just to be sure.End the drain on the tax payers and let musk go back to just being rich…..

    • 0 avatar
      Brian H

      Utterly false, every word. Many buyers have never paid over $20K for a car before, and never bought new. The car is a phenomenon. Owners swear they will never buy a putt-putt again. They look for LONG routes to work, so they can drive longer and further. They split shopping up into categories, so they can make more trips. They drive for the sheer joy of it. Including 200+ mi trips without refueling.

      It will succeed, because it is SO much better than the rest.

      • 0 avatar
        RogueInLA

        Someone who’s never spent more than $20,000 for a car is suddenly going to spring for a Tesla? (I’m guessing your referring to Teslas).

        I can think of a name for people who look for longer routes to work, and arrange their shopping so they can take more trips… “fanatics”.

        WHO in their right mind wants to make MORE shopping trips, LONGER trips to work and 200+ mi trips, I can’t think of anyone who loves their ICE who would do that, no matter how much they love their car, maybe the first few days, but after that??? For most people driving is a drudge to be gotten out of the way as quickly as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        Funny. I’d love to know the true % of Tesla S buyers who have never spent more than 20K on a car before.

        Does 2 count as many?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The way things are going for me, I might be one of those people who never spent more than $20k on a car but bought a new Tesla. We’ll see in a few years.

        I’ve owned used cars out of necessity for most of my adult life, but my career has been going well lately. I don’t see any reason to buy a new dino burner. New cars aren’t that much better than post-2003 used cars, and the uncertainty of owning a used car costs me less than it does a lot of people because of my troubleshooting skills and personality.

        I also don’t have a personal need to look like anything other than an alright family man. So, new cars just aren’t worth 2-3x the cost to me personally. I don’t see this equation changing if my income doubles, because its already mostly about the car; I can pay for a new car now, I just don’t are why it’s worth the opportunity cost.

        But Tesla has something I value: new and interesting technology under the hood. Similarly, I wonder why I haven’t bought a Leaf yet every time in drive past my Nissan dealer.

        If I am going to put up new car money, it will be for something that I can’t get 90% as good for 33% of the price on the used market. Tesla is still a little beyond my reach, though. And the Leaf sure was fun!

  • avatar

    Remember the utterly bogus story of Toyota’s “sudden unintended acceleration”? No matter how fake the story is, if MSM spreads it around, someone has got to believe it. The same effect here is at work here. Whatever real performance shortfalls EVs may have, everyone who cared knew about them before, and the media attention works to smear now, delivering to low-information population.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    If Preston Tucker was alive and released the Tucker 48 in 2009; I wondered if it would have played out the same way….

    Seriously, I think about Tucker as I watch this whole thing play out. I realize that the Model S is a different animal from the Tucker 48 because Tucker did not try to run his car on anything but an IC engine. But, he was the same kind of entrepreneural type; charging at the auto industry from left field with a radical automobile.

    You want to see the little guy succeed. I wonder if Musk will be seen as a visionary and something of a saint, and the rest of the world as just too evil for him to had succeeded; 40 years from now. (Though I actually think that Musk, like Tucker, is being his own worst enemy.) Meanwhile, I think I will buy a Matchbox Tesla and put it up for safekeeping; since I cannot afford the real thing.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      «I wonder if Musk will be seen as a visionary and something of a saint»

      He surely will be seen as a saint by those who buy his cars and get a $7,000 tax credit!

      Woo hoo! A car for rich guys which comes with a tax-credit built in!

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Doubtful. That tax credit can be had from lots of manufacturers, and people plucking down between $60k & $80k aren’t likely to be doing it for the intent of getting a govt check.

        Rather, I expect that attitude applies to those buying Volts & Leafs.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Musk isn’t exactly a little guy. He was able to raise funds for Tesla because of who he is.

      Building a car company, though, even if you have Musk’s advantages of visibility and credibility (from making scads of money, previously, in a different arena), is quite an achievement. Doing so whild simultaneously launching an aerospace company and making a sucessful cargo run to the ISS? Awesome!

      But Musk’s Tesla operation faces headwinds, to be sure. The Tesla is a niche item parked at the upper end of a niche market (EVs). That has potential to severely limit sales.

      So, he has a problem to solve. He must either reduce the price of the car to improve its appeal (but that approach is limited by battery pricing, over which he has no control) or he has to improve its appeal by improving is capability – or its perceived capability. Taking the latter route, he has elected to try to promote the EV from “around town luxury-mobile” to “Fully capable luxury-mobile” by adding the Supercharger network to it.

      However, there’s still too much inherent limitation and uncertainty in range to make this easy. The Superchargers are too far apart.

      Broder ended up too far from a Supercharger to get the fast recharge he wanted and got stuck at charging at a rate that his patience couldn’t stand. This is a situation that is currently beyond Tesla’s capability to solve with an EV and the current network.

      For inter-city travel, really fast chargers must be ubiquitous and, I think, even faster. An hour charging for 240 miles is just not going to cut it. I don’t think I’d personally consider the car practical for inter-city travel until you can add 240 miles in 15 minutes and the car probably needs 400 miles of reliable range.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Great points here. I’ll add and echo what others have said: for the EV manufacturers to have any chance at success they need to much more clearly define who this car is NOT for just as much as who it IS for.

        As a city/commuter car – great.

        As the family truckster….not so much. They would be wise to make that distinction clearer in all they do.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        You are absolutely right. But, Tucker got caught up in politics because of the SEC and Kasier Steel wasting millions of government dollars to build a small car at the same. Tesla is obviously caught up in the politics of Obama and the militant evironmentalists.

        If his aerospace firm faltered in reaching it’s objectives, or ran in the red for a decade; we would just say that is part and parcel of getting a space company off the ground. In comparison, Tesla is watched like a hawk; and every quarter’s results are picked apart.

        Musk inserting himself into the limelight did not help his cause; but that is typical of an entrepreneur. Like Steve Jobs; they insert themselves directly into the firefight; and do not hide behind PR staff. They also suffer preceved fools badly; something he also shared in common with Henry Ford.

        I fully agree that EVs are not ready for prime time. But, it would not surprise me if the Tesla Model S is not held in the same regard as the Tucker 48 decades from now; a visionary if somewhat quirky car that was doomed to fail; with several features later adopted in mainstream automobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      RogueInLA

      I can’t see too many similarities between Tesla and Tucker, I doubt any mainstream automobile manufacturer sees the Tesla as a threat. I think it’s an interesting car, a beautiful car, and a ground breaking car. I don’t think it will ever be more than a small production luxury car. It’s like wondering if Mercedes is worried about Ferrari cutting into their market share. High initial price, Lack of refueling infrastructure (and ease of refueling), are major hindrances to pure EVs. Without the purchase credit how many Volts would be moving out the door?

      Is Musk a saint? He’s a guy with money who’s indulging himself by building a high profile toy, does he really plan to get rich selling luxury EVs? Good luck to him (not that he’ll be in the soup line if Tesla goes belly up).

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Musk is doing basically what any geek with a zillion dollars would do. Get rich on the internet, figure out how to go to space, and build an electric car. Add in a really hot lover, and it’s what every CS kid dreams about.

        Most of us had to adapt to a more conventional reality. But Musk somehow made it through the sieve with several billion dollars. And that’s kinda cool.

  • avatar

    Bertel, it’s amazing how much we learn from you when you choose to regale us with some of your experience. Thanks.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Not having a dog in this fight, I really must say most of this struck me about the same way the Nicki vs. Maria spat on American Idol did. I have learned something over the last week or so about electric cars and batteries in same. If I keep them in a cigar humidor (69 degrees, 69% humidity) they are very happy. Man, I am going to need a much larger cigar humidor. Which sounds kind of nice come to think of it.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I know you were being sarcastic in this case Bertel, but I can’t resist throwing out some actual numbers here. Actually the environmentally conscious CEO would fly a turboprop on a short hop from Boston to New York. The distance between KBOS and KTEB is 163nm. I couldn’t find book values for a block trip of that length. The shortest I could find was 300nm. This is the approximate flight time and fuel burned for that trip:

    Pilatus PC12 80 gallons 1 hr 11 minutes
    Beechcraft King Air 250 130 gallons 1 hr 3 minutes
    Piaggio P180 103 gallons 53 minutes
    Learjet 40XR 187 gallons 43 minutes

    Realize that the Lear’s performance would be even worse on the actual trip. These book values are assuming the idealized parabolic flight path with a climb to the best possible altitude (which favors the missile like climb of the Lear). In the real world of congested Northeast airspace, these planes are not gonna get up into the higher flight levels nor will they be likely to hit their faster cruise speeds, all of which are conditions that work against the Lear. Also, the fact that the actual flight will be much shorter than the book one presented here means that even under ideal conditions the Lear wouldn’t get as high or as fast.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      The irony is not about the Gulfstream V or the Lear.

      The irony is that any non-hypocritical Green would take public transport, or, even better for Holy Mother Gaia, would skip the whole trip altogether.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        Jalopnik published a pro Amtrak article not too long ago talking about how that was the best way to travel around the northeast. Acela is about 3 and a half hours, non Acela service takes about half hour to 45 minutes longer. While you do need to add travel time between the airport and destination in the city (I believe TEB is about 45 minutes outside Manhattan?), time is $$$ in business. That CEO is gonna get a whole lot more work accomplished using the plane than anything else. People love to hate on business aircraft, and there are plenty of wasteful uses of them, but they are essential tools for commerce and skipping a trip can often mean a loss of business to the competitor who didn’t. If his conscience bothers him that much, he can always pay out his ass for carbon offsets.

        That being said, I couldn’t help but chuckle at how many of our customers drove hybrids (I used to work full time and currently work part time at a private aviation service company).

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        vww12,

        I hate to slow down your hatin’ on the Greens but we use the inter-city bus when we can. It might have a bigger CO2 footprint per person than the train but train service is really lousy here.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Or maybe a helicopter? Even less green but more convenient even if it’s a bit slower, an Agusta A109 has a range of 350 miles @ 170mph

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        the helicopter would likely be the quickest choice for going to NY if only because of your ability to land at one of the city’s helipads. One of the interesting uses of private aviation that people don’t alway think about is ferrying donated organs for transplant. I talked to the pilot of a charter company that operated both learjets and agustas and they said on trips leaving Central Florida and remaining within the state, it was roughly an equivalent total transport time using the helicopter or the jet (with the slight advantage in favor of the agusta) when you accounted for the chopper being able to land at the hospitals whereas you have to drive to and from the airports when using the jets, although the helicopter was actually more expensive.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “Unless you live in a monastery in Tibet, and your Samsung Note 2 was impounded, because you were caught masturbating to Google image search”

    You sir, know me FAR too well. Thing is, I didn’t need my Note, since the monks had a brand new iMac with super-fast internet in the chanting room, so even _I_ heard about this.

    If Musk DOES go after you, you’re welcome to stay here, where you’ll still have the resources to run TTAC…plus some of the best gruel you’ve ever tasted.

  • avatar
    natebrau

    Good article about how an established car company would behave. The problem is that Tesla is not an established car company. They lack existing large volume production lines, multiple brands and existing customers to protect, the way an established car company does.

    Rather, Tesla’s caught in “the chasm,” as Geoff Moore’s book put it. They have a group of early adopters, some 13k deposits on hand, but how will they grow past the early adopters into mainstream acceptance?

    Remember, industry insiders are insiders, naturally they already know the inside scoop. Most people are not insiders. So how do you reach them?

    One of the cheapest ways to reach people who haven’t heard of you and don’t know what you offer is to go pick a fight. The resulting kerfluffle gets you attention. Do the numbers, if half agree and half disagree, that’s a lot more people who know who you are, and more importantly, half of them will consider you in the future where before that number was 0. You just have to be careful to kiss and make up afterwards. I genuinely believe Musk has played this game to a “T”, and think it was his best strategy.

    • 0 avatar

      I have nothing at all against a good stunt. If you are a low budget operation like Tesla or TTAC, sometimes you have to shock to get attention. However, in this case it is not about pissing 50% off and getting the applause by the other half. This is more about pissing 1% off, getting the applause by 1%, and totally confusing and alienating 98%. (Numbers for illustration only.)

      Musk plays to the EV-lovers who love him for beating up the EV-haters. Fine. What he does not seem to get is that most of the people don’t care, and those people are at best totally confused, at worst totally repulsed by what they just heard. The other part of the drama is that there is nothing gained at all. The EV-lovers love him anyway, the EV-haters won’t change sides because of this.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        My sense of things, tho, is that the vast majority of people actually haven’t even heard about any of this, and if they did they paid very little attention to it. At this point the whole thing has little relation to the lives of most people. They aren’t in the market for a $60K+ new car, and most of the kerfuffle has less significance to them than the latest celebrity news. The people paying any real attention to this conflict are genuine car people like the ones who read this blog. I’m a reasonably well informed person and if I hadn’t read about this here I wouldn’t have heard of it at all. Genuine car people have mostly gravitated to one camp or the other and are unlikely to be swayed to the other camp. This leaves a small group of people seriously iterested in cars who haven’t yet taken a side who might be adversely influenced. Big deal.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        It seems the point of the article is if Musk intends on being a long-term, big-league player in the auto industry, he better start acting like one. His response to what might have been just a bunged-up road test stunt by the NYT which didn’t go his way was what one would expect of a niche player, i.e., make a whole bunch of noise because there is no such thing as bad publicity.

        Bertel’s point is real simple: the big-boys (at least the smart ones) don’t react to negative stories like Musk did, and there’s solid PR logic behind it.

        As an example, one need only refer to GM’s low-key, muted response to TTAC when they were doing the whole ‘Death Watch’ series. IIRC, the last response was something along the lines of a GM PR guy telling a TTAC staffer, “We don’t deal with terrorists…”.

  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    Because you don’t understand what price per stock is. If market cap was equal, well that would be something.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    “a normal ride in one of those electric vehicles must be planned like an Atlantic crossing in a single engine plane.”

    A truly inspired line, that manages to be funny and capture the problem perfectly. Excellent article, Herr Schmidt.

    As for Elon Musk, it looks like the strength of his reality distortion field is not sufficient to overcome the basic chemistry of battery operation.
    Somewhere, Steve Jobs is laughing . . . or as Dirty Harry said, “A man has got to know his limits.”

    • 0 avatar

      And there’s the 1/3 of us who live in apartments.
      No super fast home charger for us.
      I’ve lived in apartments in about 7 cities,3 states and not once have I even had garage parking. It’s outdoor lots or street parking. Good luck imagining an apartment owner installing an outdoor charger.
      I was thinking of getting a Leaf,as it would suite my low-mileage but still needing a car for work and general mobility,until I realized there wasn’t any place I could charge it.

  • avatar

    For CEOs and high ranking officials, having the internet at their fingertips is a double edged sword. On the one hand it provides instant access to information and opinions that can be crucial to keeping them aware and informed. On the other, it is a pipeline to the masses that can quickly get you into trouble and, given the ego it takes for most people to rise to the top of any organization, it can lead to disaster.

    It often takes a bitter experience like the one detailed above before people understand that ignoring your PR department robs you of your of one of the essential checks and balances you need when you go public with anything – the ability to truly think about and shape your message. Sure, the PR process may lose you some response time, but smart people will realize that a quick and unthought out response can do more damage than no response at all.

    In this case, it’s pretty clear the Musk hurt himself and his company by drawing this whole situation out rather than letting it drop. He needs to remember that win or lose, fights generally hurt both parties’ reputations.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Bertel -

    Excellent, spot on analysis. My guess is that Musk didn’t listen to his lieutenants and let his ego get the best of him.

    Reality is this: pure EVs are not yet ready for the kind of driving and the environment most Americans expect. Further, the mass market doesn’t buy a car because they’re saving the planet. As Bertel said – they want the darn car, everything else is a lie (or at a minimum an extreme exaggeration).

    Here’s what will likely end up happening: The EV fad will really start to slow once a manufacturer offers a mainstream product that offers a consistent 60+ MPG at a reasonable price.

    Now, the manufacturer who successfully designs and markets the first 100+ MPG vehicle – that will essentially render the discussion about EVs irrelevant in the minds of most people.

    Speaking of…read up on today’s announcement of the Audi A3 e-tron and the VW XLR1.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I’ve seen the Tesla in person, and it’s truly a beautiful machine with design details in the interior that really should be copied by others.

    And – I love the concept of an electric car, just because of the simplicity – not because of any fake global climate change bull Obama.

    But, as a Physics and EE type, I am well aware that 1) existing batteries just are not up to the job, and 2) we don’t have the grid capacity to support even a minimum of those types of cars….yet.

    As such, count me as one who looks forward to a future of electric cars – AFTER- government idiots (and that’s putting it mildly) get out of things they do not and can not understand, and let private enterprise (where the real brains are) get on and provide something the people will actually want to purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      1) “existing batteries just are not up to the job”

      False. What job? Tens of thousands of EVs are doing something every day, without being flat-bedded home.

      2) “we don’t have the grid capacity to support even a minimum of those types of cars….yet”

      False.

      The energy my Leaf uses in a month would power three or four 100 Watt bulbs (now illegal) continuously for the same month. The grid can support that.

      • 0 avatar
        Da Coyote

        Nice try. You have a good car that is a bit more comfortable than an 1910 model, but with approximately the same range.

        Try getting a degree in engineering sometimes.

        It’s a bit more difficult than writing terse replies.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        @Da Coyote

        Dude, I’m pretty sure he is an engineer.

      • 0 avatar
        rolosrevenge

        @DaCayote
        Well, I have a PhD in engineering, power systems, so let me see about this. 4 100 W light bulbs, on continuously for a month 100x4x24x31 = 297.6 kWh. If his LEAF uses 10 kWh a day on averages that’s 310 kWh so yeah, about right. The big difference is that the LEAF charges at 3.3 kW which is much greater than 0.4 kW of the light bulbs. As long as the EV clustering on the distribution grid is never much more than 2 EVs per 10 houses, there also should be no trouble.
        As for being able to their job. In the last 2 years, I’ve never driven more than 180 miles in a single day (though I take the 180 mile jaunt frequently). So the Tesla would fit my lifestyle with zero change in behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        I am a mechanical engineer by degree and in my job.

        rolosrevenge got the math right, but I’ll provide specifics:

        800 miles a month @ 3.3 miles/kWh (my average so far) = 242 kWh

        242 kWh /24/30 = 337 Watts continuous (ignoring losses).

        I am fortunate to pay only $0.055/kWh, so this car only costs me $13 a month for ‘fuel’. I can barely see the consumption jump on my electric bill.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Musk looks like the villain from a Bond movie.

  • avatar

    Nikola Tesla must be turning in his grave about this. Mr Musk has an ego bigger than his head. Should have retired to a carribean island with a hot broad after he got lucky with paypal.

  • avatar

    This piece would serve well as part of a social media training program for executives. Brilliant analysis, and great not-for-attribution commentary.

    Musk seems to slowly be getting a sense of what kind of business he’s got himself into, but old ego habits die hard. To wit, these quotes from Tesla’s earnings call:

    “[the] car business may not be great at many things, but It’s pretty good at cost optimization… We had to fly tires from the Czech Republic. I kid you not. I wanted to punch myself in the face.”

    That sound you’re hearing is the biggest laugh Detroit has enjoyed since sometime in the middle of the 20th Century. And to think I thought Elon was starting to “get it” way back in 2010…

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/quote-of-the-day-humbled-before-the-factory-edition/

  • avatar
    faygo

    A few thoughts :

    1) reviews of cars do get read at all levels of the industry. they are not all taken seriously, but when something breaks, hard questions are asked and answers demanded. Specific outlets and writers are afforded an appropriate level of respect, others are ignored. This may not have been BS’s experience at VW (no surprise there, German companies are nothing if not sure of themselves) but it does happen. Consumer Reports’ reviews are listened to at a lot of levels and their approval is sought and considered in the development process. same as building a car to meet the IIHS crash testing standards even though they are beyond NHTSA’s. no one who buys a Corvette is going to care if CR doesn’t like it, but the herds of sheeple who buy Camcorfustimas do.

    2) I can completely see the interest in a Model S if you do not make extended drives in your everyday life. and if you have $70-$100k to spend on a car, you might just have the means to buy/rent something else if you want to go on a road trip. if I had the need to carry people and had the means and was in the market for a 5er /E-klasse/A6/7/GS/etc I would look at a Model S and back it up with a $15k E39 for road trips.

    3) Musk is still far too unfiltered, but if the S continues to sell and Tesla are actually able to show a profit, his bluster and foot-in-mouthness don’t really hurt. the customer for an S is an open-minded early adopter and is going to do his/her own investigations about the car before buying. such a buyer might be attracted by the candor (even if mis-guided) with which Musk conducts his business.

    4) BS overestimates the actual impact that anything to do with Tesla has on the general public or the future of the pure-electric cars. lots of people are on twitter, most are not glued to it, nor bother to follow auto industry types. When (if) Tesla has a product which is affordable (sub-$40k) and has real-world range in excess of 350 miles along with an infrastructure to support long distance trips, they will be something for an average buyer to consider. I don’t see that happening in the short (3 years or less) timeframe, but someday. the average member of the american public is still far more uninformed and unaware of the world than is imaginable to those of us who pay attention to things.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Agree completely about the use (and non-use) of the Tesla. A Model S would handle well over 99% of my driving needs without any greater anxiety of range or refueling than my current car. It may even cover *more* of my needs (total) than my current ICE car, even if it doesn’t handle cross-country treks as well.

      I can guarantee that most of my friends who are not into cars have no clue about any of this Tesla tumult. They may have heard a little bit, but either completely disregarded it or didn’t understand enough of it for it to make an impression.

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      I would disagree on the impact that Musk might have. For the great unwashed, it’s meaningless. They are not the market and their ignorance is irrelevant.

      In the EV field OTOH, it’s *very* important. For all intents and purposes Tesla is carrying the flag for *everyone*. It has the nicest design and it’s, by far, the most successful. The whole field WILL live or die upon Tesla’s actions. Whatever happens to Fisker or the Volt or the Leaf won’t affect Tesla at all but if Tesla poisons the market then the others have no chance.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Is there a possible rush to judgement with the electric car and the press? IT wasn’t that long ago the Prius was just such a target.(money loser even with tax credits, sold in too small a number to be serious) Perhaps everyone should just stick to the facts and let time decide. Early internal combustion “cars” were no bargain, and required a full time mechanic to keep it going. Time , and the market will always decide. Is anybody expecting the current electric car to live up to posted limits under every possile condition, when no gas powered car can? This whole thing seems to be a pissing contest in the middle of a gail force wind , Nobody’s sure who won and nobody want to be labeled as the loser.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Great article Bertel. Musk founded Paypal, he’s not a novice to public relations. The long distance runs set up Tesla Motors for this sort of bad report and Musk made the whole thing worse. This particular controvery has nothing to do with him being a maverick innovator taking on the big dogs, or even about the viability of EV’s but that Musk stepped in it and kept spreading it around.

  • avatar
    Brian H

    All in all, a misconceived article. You are about to see, in action, the adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

    Beyond that, the factor you overlook is the one-taste-addictive properties of the car itself. Hardened gearheads have been known, after one drive, to say, “Well, the putt-putt car was nice while it lasted.” The car is a game- and life-changer. Before, you drive to live. After, you live to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I’ve driven a lot of cars. Most were so-so. Some were awful. Some were awesome. But they were all, really, just cars.

      If a car changes your life, it probably wasn’t much of a life.

      • 0 avatar
        RogueInLA

        @KixStart

        +1000

        @Brian H, remember the Segway? It was going to revolutionze transportation, etc, etc, Steve Jobs said it would be as important as the personal computer, all it did was revolutionize the way mall cops got around. The Tesla is nice, is it going to cause people to abandon their ICEVs by the side of the road as they march into Tesla showrooms chanting?… probably not. Personally, I don’t want to drive a car that sounds like an electric train.

    • 0 avatar
      sbunny8

      I was thinking the same thing Brian, no such thing as bad publicity. I suspect Musk was thinking it too.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      @ Brian H, you write:

      “Hardened gearheads have been known, after one drive, to say, “Well, the putt-putt car was nice while it lasted.” The car is a game- and life-changer. Before, you drive to live. After, you live to drive.”

      Hyperbole at its finest and shiniest.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    Yes! I’ve been saying this since the day the news story broke.

    Adding to your points, for those on the East Coast, 200 miles might seem like a road trip. In the West and Southwest forget major cities, we have gas stations placed further apart than that. Tesla pretty much informed the residents of the wild open spaces that their car was not for them.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Very fine article! People just want a real car, not a science project. As you so aptly wrote, ” They get anxious when the gas gauge approaches empty, and when there isn’t a gas station after a few more miles, on their side of the road, preferably. They will not buy a car that demands the same level of high anxiety all the way from Washington, DC, to Boston. They also won’t wait an hour for the car to fill up.” Maybe the big-shot CEO Musk lost track of what is really required in a car – even a $100,000+ EV. He needs to drive around Texas in one of his fancy golf carts in 100 degree + heat. Sounds like a charging station at every freeway exit.

  • avatar
    RogueInLA

    If the (admittedly older), studies referenced in this article,

    http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2010/07/unaffordable_at_any_speed.html

    are correct, and we’re looking at 465,000 EVs by 2020, then the whole thing is irelevent.

    What if they threw a twitter war and nobody came?

  • avatar
    baggins

    there are considerably fewer shares of Tesla stock, so ownership of one share of HOnda means you own a far lower% of the company than you do if you own one share of Tesla. i e, Tesla is not worth anything close to Honda.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Well said BS. Not only does Mr. Musk lack the sense to stop running around the house, he picks a media fight with the NYT. I doubt the lady can build a car, but they can write. Heck, they’re standing tall after calling out unit 61398. Musk was a snack, the NYT moves stories, and Musk lost a few potential future sales. I’ve picked a winner.

  • avatar
    ToxicSludge

    I think the one thing that the Times reporter did was act like a regular car owner and said,”I’ll fix it/charge it later,and it broke down/ran outta juice.This will happen to the new ev buyers.They just won’t follow some simple steps until they screw up…then they MIGHT learn.No,they won’t really read the owners manual,and the salesman where they bought it said they can drive _______ amount of miles without charging etc etc.No thoughts given to heating up,or cooling down the car.No thought given to actual range vs temp at all.Just sayin’…..

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    From tis gearhead’s perspective you’re absolutely right Bertel, BUT.. all this has made me think about the Model S… 200 mile range? I live in an exurban areas with a long commute but even I seldom exceed 120 miles in a day even with side trips. Hmmm, I’m not in the market for a $100k super car but this whole thing has made me think of a car I never thought about before and now the Model S is on the post lottery fantasy lit which it wasn’t before, and that’s something. Tesla lost this twitter war but now they ate on my radar and weren’t before even just as a fantasy acquisition, and that’s something.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Moving to the Bay Area – it occurs to me that Telsa suffers from it. The weather is just too nice here. It almost never rains. It never snows. Its never really cold – just cool. There are lots of lights and traffic. But because its one giant strip mall – everything repeats so you don’t often have to drive far.

    Tesla is a really nice car for this area. Its not so nice for a cold blustery drive to Vermont from NYC. This is the problem they have, IMHO. They don’t understand the whole world is not like Silicon Valley..

    Weirdly the Bay Area seems like a nice area for a Volt – but all I see are Priuses.


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