By on September 19, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Before joining the gang at TTAC, I was freelancing, and a lot of my work centered around electric vehicles. Which means I was reading and writing a lot about Tesla, especially during that time a few months ago when the small California-based automaker somehow became the most valuable automaker in the world, at least from Wall Street’s perspective, based solely on its potential.

Some of my work took me into the depths of the pro-Tesla blogosphere. While these sites can serve as valuable sources for news about the company, they also have an unabashed pro-Tesla stance. Objective, they (mostly) ain’t.

And that’s okay – while many, if not most, media outlets default towards being as objective as possible, there’s no rule stating that your blog or outlet has to be objective. It’s okay for HuffPo to be leftist and National Review to lean right. And so it is with outlets that cover Tesla – no one expects Teslarati to be critical of the brand.

It’s one thing to have pro-Tesla blogs, of course, but another to be unable to even talk about the brand without dividing into two tribes – the fanboys who think Tesla is the best company ever and can do no wrong (as it disrupts the industry and solves every one of the world’s problems), and the “haters” who think that Tesla is doomed to fail any day now and it’s a minor miracle the company has lasted this long.

Yet, just about any article about Tesla, no matter how mundane, ends up with commenters bloviating on how great Tesla is and how the sun shines out of Elon Musk’s nether regions or how the company sucks and should be shoved into those same nether regions.

All this divisive noise doesn’t make sense. Tesla is a small car company that’s done some unique and interesting things. It’s had some successes and some failures, and in the future it will continue to experience successes and failures. Nothing more, nothing less.

And yet, for a brief moment earlier this summer, Wall Street had it valued higher than General Motors. Because why, exactly?

Yes, I know, I know. Wall Street loves to bet big on future success, and Tesla was seen as being a surefire gamble.

“Model 3” is what you’re screaming right about now. You’re going to remind me, vocally, that the Model 3 will “change the game” and put Tesla over the top and turn it into the Apple of automakers and the rest of the industry will be lucky to hold on as Tesla rises to the top, first with the Model 3 and then with a bevy of other mainstream, affordable electric vehicles.

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Hold up there, sport. The Model S has been on our roads for years; it’s a fine vehicle with a reasonable real-world range and some cool tech, and yet, people still buy the 7 Series and the S-Class. Hmm.

Not to mention that Chevrolet beat the Model 3 to market with its own affordable EV (the Bolt) that has a 200-mile-plus range. Yes, that Chevrolet. The same one that’s part of the “dinosaur” that is GM – the same GM that needed government help to survive the Great Recession. The same GM that Tesla passed in valuation just a couple months ago.

This isn’t a comparison of the two cars – I’ve driven neither, so I can’t say which is better. And yes, Chevy probably did botch the marketing of the Bolt launch (go ahead, Chevy, promote your car — don’t be shy), which did it no favors. But lavishing Tesla with praise for doing the same thing one of its main rivals did, and did sooner, while ignoring said rival, strikes me as odd and very cultish.

If the 7 Series and 5 Series and S-Class and E-Class survived the threat posed by the Model S, well, there’s no reason the 3 Series and Audi A4 and other entry-luxury sedans should be quaking in their boots. There are several reasons why the Model 3 probably won’t “disrupt” the automotive industry in the way the tech and business press expects.

2016 Tesla Model S, Image: Tesla

For starters, cars are not a rational or logical purchase for many people. For example, a family could be comparing the Model 3 to the 3 Series, and the Model 3 could make more sense for them from a financial and logical standpoint, and yet they could still come home with the Bimmer. Why?

Styling preference, for one. Or brand loyalty, if they’ve owned a BMW previously. Or aspiration – maybe Mom or Dad have been lusting after a BMW for 20 years and can now finally afford it after that big promotion. Perhaps after a test drive, they just like how the BMW rides and handles better.

Note that none of those reasons have anything to do with the inherent drawbacks of owning an EV – range anxiety, charge times, finding a charger, installing a charger at home, et cetera. Nor do I get into the math of whether it’s more cost-effective to go EV or stick with gas – an equation that will vary from person to person, even with government incentives factored in.

Buying a car is simply a fairly complex purchase, and more fraught with emotion than any other common big-ticket item, save perhaps homes (of course, most of us buy cars more often than homes). Unlike cars, no one cares much about the styling of their home appliances (at most, they worry about matching the other appliances in the kitchen) and appliances don’t offer the experience driving does. As long as they work, no one gives a damn.

Smartphones are the only other big-ticket item that involve emotion in the buying decision to a high level, but even then, it’s probably not to the extent that it is with cars. When I left Android behind for Apple a few years back, the design was part of the reason for the switch, but it had more to do with pragmatic reasons such as battery life and a larger ecosystem of available apps. If the Droid universe had been better at those things back then, I might’ve stayed.

elon musk

The Model 3 could live up to its billing, make good on all of Tesla’s promises, and still not be on the radar for some people. That could even hold true down the line as range increases and charge time decreases and as EVs become easier to live with.

Another potential pitfall for the Model 3 – price. An affordable base price doesn’t mean it won’t get nuts with options, and that will turn some buyers away. You’ll need to add $9K for better battery range, for example, and it will be easy to spend $50K on a Model 3.

This doesn’t mean the Model 3 will be a disaster if it doesn’t upend the industry. I suspect it’s going to sell well and make Tesla a pretty penny, and that’s good for them. Expectations don’t need to be sky high, though. Why can’t we, as observers, note that if the Model 3 sells well, that in and of itself will be a success?

That’s the problem with talking Tesla. If the 3 does well but fails to take electric-vehicle market share from the tiny percentage it is now to a greater slice of the pie, the fanboys are going to be disappointed and the anti-Tesla crowd will sharpen their knives.

Tesla Supercharger

That’s insane. Let’s look at Tesla for what it is, and not what it might be. It’s a small car company that sells two, and soon three, models, all with electric powertrains. It also offers cool tech like Autopilot, and the Model S was the first mass-produced EV to have decent range. Tesla’s supercharger network may reduce charge times and provides peace of mind to owners on road trips. The company is trying to pioneer a business model that lets customers buy direct from the factory, which may eventually prove advantageous to consumers. Autopilot may help the industry improve autonomous tech across the board. All good things! Plus, who knows what the gigafactory might do for the brand?

But it’s also a company that’s struggled with production delays, sexual-harassment lawsuits, and has failed to meet promised deadlines. Fairly standard problems for many corporations, large and small, but problems nonetheless. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not even discussing the influence of Musk himself – the young and popular CEO who has guest-starred on shows like The Simpsons, South Park, and The Big Bang Theory, and is active on Twitter – to the point that he occasionally tweets his way into hot water. Musk’s presence is certainly a part of the reason why the brand gets the attention it does.

Journalists, enthusiasts, and consumers should be looking at Tesla with a more objective eye. It’s an interesting company, sure, and one that does things differently, but it’s still just a car company. It may yet upend the industry, or it may simply slide into the mainstream, or it may someday fail.

Tesla Model 3

Maybe its sales model will undo the current status quo, maybe it won’t – or maybe it will just make traditional dealers be better at customer service. Maybe Autopilot will underpin self-driving cars, maybe it won’t. And so on.

Already, some folks have jumped into the comments to call me a “hater” in the pocket of “big oil.” I assure you, I do not hate Tesla. I’ve driven the Model S twice, and while each drive was under 10 minutes, I found it to be a fine car, at least from what I could tell in such a small sample. I’m intrigued by both the tech and, as a former dealer employee as well as industry observer, the sales model. As far as I can remember, I’ve had only polite and professional interactions with the company and its employees.

Nor do I hate EVs. I do love internal-combustion-engine sports cars, but I also appreciate EVs for their instant torque and silent driving. I also foresee a future where most vehicles, whether driven by humans or autonomy, will be an EV or at least have an electrified powertrain. That future may be a very long way off, given the current EV market size, but I can see a time in which commuters drive EVs while gas (and some diesel) engines are relegated to sports cars and pickup trucks.

I’m just tired of the noise. I’m tired of one sector of the Tesla-verse giving the company the kind of pleasure and praise one normally saves for their partner, while another group looks to kick the company around at any and all opportunities. I’m tired of the business and tech press acting as if Tesla just invented the automobile.

Not looking at Tesla through an objective lens does us all a disservice. Consumers don’t get the truth about the company and its products without that truth either being filtered through glasses colored in the most extreme shade of rose or through the lens of those who want Tesla to fail.

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

I do think the Model 3 will be successful, if we define successful as being profitable and selling at a reasonable volume. I also think there will be growing pains – missed deadlines, quality issues, et cetera – and I don’t think the car is going to sell 500,000 units in a year any time soon. That would put it in best-selling car territory (Ford’s F-Series sold over 700,000 units in 2016, by comparison), and I don’t think that’s going to happen, especially since some buyers will be turned off by the price walk needed to get more-desirable features.

That’s okay! Tesla aimed high, and it won’t be a disaster for the company if it falls short, especially since it has other irons in the fire, like the upcoming semi-truck. I just don’t expect nuance on the part of the market and a good chunk of the media, and that’s a shame.

Tesla may change the industry – and world – in small but important ways, but don’t expect it to be a “savior.” Don’t expect it to crash and burn, either. Just observe it, think critically, and understand that no matter how cool it may seem, it’s just another automaker.

[Images: Teslas Motors]

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133 Comments on “It’s Time to Talk About Tesla With Sanity...”


  • avatar

    Sanity’s on her break now, so she’s free to chat. Don’t take up too much of her time.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    What always irritates me is all this talk of saving the planet when unless you know the exact make up of your local electrical grid, things can still be pretty dirty with your electric vehicle.

    A “solar farm” is being built within the Gallup city limits so I know that my grid will be a little bit cleaner in the near future.

    And Elon, why do you always hold your face in a way that makes me want to punch it?

    • 0 avatar
      Mark Peters

      What a sad, sad article that speaks volumes re: the qualifications required to be a “journalist” in the internet era.

      After hundreds or thousands of words on a topic with which the author knows remarkably little, he ends with, “Just observe it, think critically, and understand that no matter how cool it may seem, it’s just another automaker.”

      Wow, talk about clueless. Tesla is far, far from “another automaker.” It’s an energy production and storage company that happens to make cars, among other things, and it is hell bent on saving the planet from the grossly ill-informed that don’t have a clue as to why it’s at risk.

      Here’s a primer for the author:

      https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/06/how-tesla-will-change-your-life.html

      (It’s more than two years old; try to keep up. To write articles which demonstrate ignorance just make you look bad. Terrible, actually.)

      Secondly, for any ICE car, it just gets dirtier with each passing day. For every BEV, it gets cleaner as the grid gets cleaner, or really, really clean for those, like us, that have a PV array on our roof. Do you see the symbiotic relationship yet?

      p.s. Why would I expect more from TTAC when they list Citroen at the bottom of the page, but can’t be bothered to list Tesla?!?

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      “And Elon, why do you always hold your face in a way that makes me want to punch it?”

      Winner. Close thread.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Just another car company you say???? JUST ANOTHER CAR COMPANY!!!???

    BLASPHEMY!!

    May Elon Musk himself peer down from the heavens and smite thee with a bolt of Solar City produced lightening! May stages of Space X Rockets rain down upon your house!

    In all seriousness. I think most everyone knows, particularly wall street that it is quite a lot of irrational exuberance. Bet on it because you think its going higher, not because you think it is worth that much. I hope it takes off, really do. Its got a pretty good image, its American, it gives the finger to car dealers. Lot of good things, but yes, it is another mode of transport at the end of the day.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Rational discussion about the business of Tesla is nearly impossible because of how intertwined dogmatic politcs have become with the product. Whether it be environmental, partisan or simply someone’s idea of fulfillment of the future prophecy we’ve been promised for a century.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Who spends 20 years lusting after a BMW 3-series?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I spent about eight years lusting after a 3-series before getting my first new one. The first BMW that really spoke to ten-year-old me was the E21 320i right as the US market ones had their engines shrink to 1.8 liters as European market cars shifted to 2 liter M20s.

      The interesting thing about Tesla’s Model S and the Lexus LS400 before it is that they both revealed that there were plenty of people who could afford to spend 96th percentile money on new cars who didn’t give a crud about anything that was already on the market. Twenty-seven years ago, Lexus sold more relatively expensive luxury cars than anyone had before. They were about 50% more expensive than Cadillacs and Lincolns, and sold for transaction prices that fell between mid-sized and full-sized German luxury cars. Nobody was selling as many cars over $35K in 1990, and most of the sales didn’t come at the expense of the Germans. There was an untapped market of people who’d either already had German and Detroit luxury and didn’t care to go back, or who had the money but didn’t care for existing luxury cars more than they cared about Toyota quality.

      Tesla similarly priced the Model S relative to the Germans only to find a bigger market than any similarly priced sedan could command. Part of it was the value proposition of making the middle class pay for the things, but part of it was that it tapped a market of wealthy people who didn’t see any value in existing offerings.

      • 0 avatar
        AKHusky

        I think this could wind being true. My wife just bought a Focus electric ($18.2K after rebates and tax credit) but may have bought a Tesla 3 if they were actually available. She liked the Focus better than the Bolt or Leaf, and the model S was more than she could stand to spend on a car, even though she can afford it.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      I have a “latent lust” for a 3-series that started when the E30 M3 was new. Doubt I’ll ever buy one, though.

    • 0 avatar

      In my experience quite a few people. At least used to be. Seemed a very common purchase for middle aged people when there kids left home at my old office job.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      A BMWophile I suppose. I’ve spent a lifetime lusting after Mustangs from the mundane to the special. I imagine there are people who are the same. Especially a car that is as much a status symbol as it is transportation.

      By way of anecdote a friend of mine was into Mustangs but ad soon as she made the leap to management and a good salary she immediately changed gears and wanted an Audi with the prime reason being that the Mustang was fine for the working class wouldn’t cut it with her peers now that she had climbed the ladder.

      And she didn’t have any specific model in mind like GT or a Shelby just the Audi she could afford.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “Who spends 20 years lusting after a BMW 3-series?”

      Same guys who spend 20 years lusting after a Ferrari: Those who haven’t driven one.

      (in the E36 era, those lusting were the ones who HAD driven one. Which is very different indeed………)

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I certainly did.

      And count me among the long-time BMW owners who have no problem with their current cars other than the decreasing availability of stickshifts.

      There is a persistent meme on this site that people only buy BMWs to show their neighbors they have arrived. Reality is an awful lot of us just like how they drive, look, and feel.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickmichaels/2013/05/27/if-tesla-would-stop-selling-cars-wed-all-save-some-money/#20f6fe9a6f0a

    This is why at least some people don’t support Tesla. They’re rent-seekers, not car makers. If you’re going to write an article talking about the pros and cons of Tesla and the strong reactions people have towards them, then you should really touch on the issue of all their profits coming from people who don’t buy their products or willingly give them their money.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “This is why at least some people don’t support Tesla. They’re rent-seekers, not car makers. If you’re going to write an article talking about the pros and cons of Tesla and the strong reactions people have towards them, then you should really touch on the issue of all their profits coming from people who don’t buy their products or willingly give them their money.”

      Except that Tesla doesn’t make a penny from that tax money; it’s the buyers who are getting the discount while Tesla gets the full asking price on each car. Granted, it works to Tesla’s advantage but that’s ONLY because nobody else has been making BEVs with similar abilities… until now. Again, Tesla has garnered not one red cent of that tax money that article implies they are receiving.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        If someone offered to pay Ford’s $10K per F150 incentive expenses, would Ford make more money or less? The article also discussed the carbon-trading sham that sees lower income new car buyers subsidizing Tesla through transfer payments.

      • 0 avatar
        arthurk45

        The weird notion that only the buyers, not Tesla profits from the govt tax rebates has to be one of the most outrageously inane propositions since the battery swapping fisaco. IN a compettitive business like that faced by most automakers (not Tesla, yet) the govt lowering the list prices of their car by $7500 would be an absoute windfall, and the subject of howls from the MSM. I would LOVE to be in business if my products could have a $7500 price advantage over my competitors. It’s called, surefire profit city, fella, I fully expect sleazy Musk to argume, after his cars lose their govt welfare, to argue that “we no longer need and govt subsidies.” If this doesn’t happen, Tesla will face a huge price disadvatage – of course Tesla is already raping their customers with their marketing scheme for their “Affordable” (don’t laugh) Model 3 : advertise a mostly vaporware $35,000 version; provide it with a small battery (50kwhrs) to ensure that it is inferior in driving range to the Chevy Bolt, then offer a “battery upgrade – to 75 kWhrs, so their owners won’t be made fun of by Bolt owners, and price this option, which costs Tesla Motors $3750 to install, at $9,000. It’s called bait and switch, combined with fraudulent marketing. And also save company money by skimping on service, but charging an arm and a leg. After all, if you can’t screw your own cultist customers, who can you screw?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “The weird notion that only the buyers, not Tesla profits from the govt tax rebates has to be one of the most outrageously inane propositions since the battery swapping fisaco. IN a compettitive business like that faced by most automakers (not Tesla, yet) the govt lowering the list prices of their car by $7500 would be an absoute windfall.”

          You do realize, arthur, that EVERY automaker that sells a ZEV gets that $7500 windfall, don’t you? It’s not just Tesla, but Chevrolet, Nissan,… literally anyone manufacturing or selling a BEV is getting that. So trying to claim Tesla is the sole beneficiary is a specious claim at best.

          Your prejudice is showing.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Ah…so Todd won’t support a company that makes money off tax-related government largesse.

      Therefore, I’m preparing a list of companies he can support.

      The list is short. And it includes no oil companies. So, I fully expect ol’ Todd’s gonna go all John D. Rockefeller and start drilling for oil in his backyard, and refining it in his garage. Self reliance is a virtue, after all.

      (Seriously…Teslas are sold to folks with money. They compete with stuff like the Mercedes S-class. You REALLY think a lousy $7500 seals the deal for a S-class buyer who’s bringing home half a mil a year? Yeah, whatever.)

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Tesla is the cool new toy every rich guy (and wanna be rich guy) in California wants. Also helps that you can drive in the carpool lane by yourself. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s a pretty good business model short term. Not sure if it can last long term.

    As for the $50K price tag…is that really expensive when a Honda Odyssey is also $50K?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Was the Honda billed as the affordable future of the automobile? Also, is it a small sedan? Do you have to buy the $50k model in order to make it work for your commute, or are the lesser versions capable of similar range?

      Apples and oranges.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        Do you have to have a panoramic glass roof in your electric car that you’re willing to drop an extra $5K? Do you have to commute over 220 miles per day on the regular? If not, then you can just buy the $35K car. Insisting that it’s a $50K car because people want nice luxury features is pretty silly. It’s no different than how you can slap $40K of options onto a Boxster.

        But that said, I do think Tesla is making people who wouldn’t have otherwise dropped huge coin on a car-but who can afford it-spend money on cars. My coworker bought a Model X to replace their old Honda Odyssey because they have a big family. The whole time they were making $500K+ per year not even counting their side businesses but the minivan was the most practical thing so they drove that everywhere until they were enticed by the tech in the Model X and decided to splurge.

        As for myself, my daily drivers have been pretty cheap cars in the past-I drove a Camry for 14 years and I’m driving a used Passat TDI now and my biggest splurge to date was a used Cayman S as a weekend toy but I’m going to be buying a loaded out $55K+ Model 3 in the next few months as my new daily driver (long range battery, premium pack, actual paint color, and the autopilot make it $55K…preordering the theoretical self driving would put it at $58K). I could have afforded all sorts of cars for several years now but the Teslas are the first ones where I can justify the splurge to be on the cutting edge (my net worth has also improved considerably so I am feeling slightly better about spending a bit). I expect it to be super unreliable and to have crazy software bugs and glitches but since I’ve always enjoyed being on the bleeding edge of tech that’s actually oddly appealing to me. But then again I also used to enjoy spending hours and hours running developmental software on my smartphones.

        To each their own, but the Teslas are attracting new people to the luxury market because they’re seen as cool new tech products in addition to being cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Tesla’s minivan is $100k-$140k, though, so you’re stretching a bit. Nobody is buying an Ody for a solo commute and I doubt many families of 4+ people are buying a Model 3 unless they’re trying to make an ascetic point (unlike an “aesthetic” point, which can’t be made with a Model 3. Because uglistick.)

    • 0 avatar

      Well I think were more talking midsize car here, not minivan. You can get a lot of tech for little money in a fusion these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Regarding your question — it’s not about the $50K price, it’s about being sold as a $35K car that becomes a $50K car easily with options. Obviously most automakers use similar tactics — advertise the cheap base car, when the one people want costs a lot more — but in this particular case, the appeal of the Model 3 is that it’s an “affordable” EV.

      And yes, the Bolt gets into the mid-$40s when optioned out, but the Bolt didn’t have a huge flock of reservations predicated on price, either.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        This is my concern for Tesla. They built their massive order bank on the back of a 35k Tesla sedan. How many will cancel when they can’t actually get the car that they want in the color they want for anywhere near the price they thought it would be?

        • 0 avatar
          Chocolatedeath

          Nobody cares about that..whats wrong with you.

        • 0 avatar
          ash78

          As I keep saying, the stupid $1,000 refundable deposit was a bad PR move. It should have been $5k-$10k, nonrefundable, and included some ironclad contractual terms about what the consumer was going to get.

          As it stands, it’s hollow for both parties. Too easy to walk away, too many risks for the company if they don’t deliver.

          As an investor, I’d stay away for now. Despite their momentum, Tesla could easily be a historical footnote in 10 years, one we look upon fondly like the Tucker of the 21st century.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I suggest looking at what happened to Tucker, though. Many of his problems were due to active sabotage by the existing car companies of the day.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Tim:

        Yes, but a) the Model 3 seems to be well equipped for $35,000 and, b) no one’s forcing someone who put a deposit down for a $35,000 car to buy one that’s optioned up to $50,000. If b) was the case, I’m sure we’d be hearing about it in the media.

        I’m sure Tesla hopes that some of the “$35,000 Model 3” buyers will like all the fancy options and decide drop another $15,000, but they’re under no obligation to do so.

        • 0 avatar
          Tim Healey

          Sure, no one is forcing it. I just do wonder how many buyers will cancel their reservation when they realize they have to pay a lot more than they expected to get the options they want.

  • avatar
    BobNelson

    The conversation about EVs cannot be genuine until everyone understands that they are currently subsidizing gasoline for something like to $10 per gallon. If those subsidies were rolled back progressively, say 10% per year, the EV market would explode within five years.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Do you have a source for that $10, or are you just making that up based upon your own reasoning?

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        “Do you have a source for that $10, or are you just making that up based upon your own reasoning?”

        I don’t have a source at hand, and I was careful to be approximate. If you Google the topic, you’ll find estimates from $7 to $15. As someone else here states, most of this is tax breaks, which subsidize every stage of the petroleum industry, from prospection for new sources to amortization of depleted sources.

        The result is that Big Oil is the most profitable industry in the history of the world. … While constantly complaining about subsidies for renewable energy sources.

        European cars are more efficient than American cars. They are both smaller/lighter, and have more efficient engines. Of course! Fuel costs THREE TIMES what it costs in the US.

        When I was shopping for a stateside car, I automatically studied the candidates’ fuel-economy numbers. Then our son, who has lived in the US for twenty years, explained to me, “Ummm…. Dad? Over here, nobody cares about fuel-economy. The marginal difference between cars in the same segment is insignificant.” That’s a great way to keep the country burning a maximum of fossil fuel.

        Big Oil wins. Always.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      This figure gets repeated regularly, but that’s not exactly how it works. Most of the so-called subsidies are actually tax brakes for various functions. If you removed those, it wouldn’t substantially affect gasoline prices, but it would affect locations for production. In this model, you would have to say that all the tax breaks that are given to Elon are also subsidies.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        “Most of the so-called subsidies are actually tax brakes for various functions. If you removed those, it wouldn’t substantially affect gasoline prices…”

        How do you figure? Without the subsidies, Exxon/Mobil & sisters would have much higher costs, which they would pass along to consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      That would mean that the US spends 1.44 trillion dollars a year subsidizing gasoline. The federal government spent $609 billion on defense in 2015, another 85 billion on transportation, and 45 billion on energy and environment. If you think that all or most of those expenditures went to subsidizing gasoline, then you’ll believe anything. You’d still be 50% short of your fantasy where people operating ICE vehicles cost their fellow Americans as much as free riders in their EVs do.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Most fossil fuel subsidies are for low income energy assistance programs, tax breaks on fuel used by farmers, and depreciation allowances on oil fields and drilling equipment. Oil industry income taxes and transportation fuel taxes are some of the biggest sources of tax revenue in the world. In contrast, renewable energy and electric cars pay zero taxes and get direct operating subsidies that mostly go directly into the pockets of the wealthiest citizens in the country. Tesla wouldn’t exist without subsidies, because no venture capitalists or other private money would ever fund such a risky venture, which still hasn’t made a profit in more than 10 years of operations, without some substantial reassurance from Uncle Sam, Uncle Moonbeam Brown, Uncle Harald (Norway), etc. In contrast, it certainly didn’t take 10 years for Standard Oil, or Packard, or Cadillac to start earning profits during their early years – and they got zero subsidies.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          Who paid for the roads used by the newly-invented cars?

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Fuel taxes and road tolls have paid for roads, which are paid by motorists. EV owners contribute nothing to the roads they use.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “EV owners contribute nothing to the roads they use.”

            Not totally true and it’s a matter already under consideration in most US states. There are some very easy ways to adjust the taxing of cars, if they were only willing to change other taxes to make it fair for all drivers.

        • 0 avatar
          BobNelson


          Most fossil fuel subsidies are for low income energy assistance programs, tax breaks on fuel used by farmers, and depreciation allowances on oil fields and drilling equipment. Oil industry income taxes and transportation fuel taxes are some of the biggest sources of tax revenue in the world. In contrast, renewable energy and electric cars pay zero taxes and get direct operating subsidies that mostly go directly into the pockets of the wealthiest citizens in the country.”

          I’m not going to debate a denialist. That’s a waste of time. But I cannot let slide this kind of “up is down / hot is cold” inversion of reality.

          The topic is easy to research, so I encourage all who want to know the facts to spend some time with the Google machine.

          Be attentive to sources, though. Big Oil has been producing phoney “studies” for decades, following the example of Big Tobacco…

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Bob – perhaps you should take your own advice and do some research before you make your ridiculous statements about $10 per gallon subsidies. Can’t find any link? Perhaps that is because your claims are all fantasy. On the other hand – what I say can be backed up by outside sources:

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/drillinginfo/2016/02/22/debunking-myths-about-federal-oil-gas-subsidies/2/#3c8ae1e3f451

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            stingray65,

            As I said, I won’t waste everyone’s time with an endless debate. I don’t expect anyone to take my word as gospel: I hope that readers here have long since learned that it is silly to believe anything said by some random guy on a blog… or even said by a fancy think tank whose backers are, for example, the Koch brothers.

            If you wish to present Big Oil’s arguments, that is your right.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          C’mon, stingray, the government has handed out UNTOLD BILLIONS in tax breaks to oil companies over the years…during which time those companies were incredibly profitable.

          Makes whatever the government has doled out for electric car tax credits look like a pittance, I’d think.

          And…”EV owners contribute nothing towards the roads they use?” I’m sure the guy who just dropped $100,000 on a Tesla has never paid a dime in state, federal or local taxes…right?

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Mike – please educate me on those untold billions in tax breaks that oil companies uniquely get. Depreciation/depletion allowances are not unique to the oil industry, every firm get them. Show me an industry that pays a higher percentage of income in taxes than the oil industry and we can talk.

            As for deadbeat EV owners – of course they pay regular income taxes, assuming they have any remaining liabilities after they deduct EV federal and state tax credits, but if they purchased a gasoline car instead they would also be paying the fuel taxes that go to transportation infrastructure.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aside from the out-and-out subsidy of discounted land leases, said oil operations get direct, 100% support for site preparation up to the minute that bit bites dirt for the first time. That particular subsidy is well over 100 years old.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Here you go, from the Wall Street Journal:

            https://www.wsj.com/articles/does-the-oil-and-gas-industry-still-need-tax-breaks-1479092522

            And someone’s a “deadbeat” for taking a legally permissible tax credit? Please…if the sitting president of the United States can do it, anyone should be able to.

            If tax rebates to stimulate parts of the economy are bad, then they’re bad for everyone, not just when they’re being given out to a) oil companies or b) Tesla drivers. Either the idea sucks, or it doesn’t. But let’s not cherrypick the ones we like and don’t like because of political ideology.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “If tax rebates to stimulate parts of the economy are bad, then they’re bad for everyone, not just when they’re being given out to a) oil companies or b) Tesla drivers. Either the idea sucks, or it doesn’t. But let’s not cherrypick the ones we like and don’t like because of political ideology.”

            Are your peer group stupid enough to be fooled by this particular fallacy? If you accept business expense deductions then you must support subsidies that distort the market or you are blinded by ideology? Those are my choices? Who do you usually debate topics with? A Labrador retriever?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Oops, sorry, I don’t talk to people who think I’m too stupid to be talked to.

            Troll elsewhere, Todd.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Mike – thank you for the link, but those are all depletion/depreciation allowances for business expenses just like every other business gets. It appears some are at an accelerated rate, but those are also common in many industries and don’t reduce the tax burden, just the timing of tax payments. The government is not giving them any money, just not forcing them to pay taxes on gross income rather than net income.

            As for the deadbeat EV buyers, I was being sarcastic because I don’t begrudge anyone from using any and all tax advantages they can legally get away with. The fact remains, however, that EV owners do not pay for the roads they use and are being subsidized by gasoline and diesel taxes they are not paying. I’m sure this loophole will be closed very quickly when/if EV market share grows much further.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            So…oil and gas producers appear to get an accelerated depreciation, which is a writeoff.

            Sounds like a special tax break to me that other businesses might not get.

            And, no, because a EV owner gets a one time tax break doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t pay for roads. That’s nonsense.

            ” I’m sure this loophole will be closed very quickly when/if EV market share grows much further.”

            That we can agree on.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I am not a hater, nor a Teslaphile. I wish the company well.

    The only thing that does annoy me would be those who act unreasonably, praising the company endlessly and ignoring any negative aspects.

    I am a Ford guy, everyone knows that, but I’m not one to ignore the rotten eggs they have laid, their mistakes and shortcomings. You can be a “fan” of a company without putting on blinders. Tesla’s more over-zealous supporters should take that into consideration.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    I do like the fact that Tesla is disturbing the current car buying process for the better…I think.

    However, I can’t help but be annoyed that Elon’s business model for Tesla and SpaceX has too much reliance on government (i.e. our) money.

    • 0 avatar
      love2drive

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      …SpaceX has too much reliance on government (i.e. our) money.

      Isn’t SpaceX actually saving us tax dollars? It would be interesting to compare the tax savings that SpaceX has given us vs. any money that Tesla has received. Also, are you annoyed by companies that build roads and bridges for their reliance on government? If it’s the $7,500 EV tax thing, it’s going away. But, the current administration and party in power are hell-bent dumping more cash into the pockets of those of us with higher incomes, so I’m sure we’ll get that $7500 back in another form soon.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Walmart relies on the government quite a bit, too. It’s how business is done in a dog-eat-dog world.
      Tesla is a lightning rod for criticism, just like the Prius. Thank goodness we have so many choices, and buy what you like.

  • avatar

    I like the model S. I hate the look of the 3. I’am happy Tesla exists but I’m confounded by the financials of it. I think Tim wrote an excellent article here. Curious how it will be received by the end of the day.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      If the picture above is the real interior of the Model 3 then it is off the table for us. There is no way I would want to drive around with a small screen TV as my only source of information. If it has a HUD with pertinent information I might reconsider, but that screen is just plain hideous.

  • avatar
    V16

    Tesla makes CARS, but not PROFITS.
    Profits are what ensure the viability of any auto manufacturer.
    Call me skeptical, till this formula changes.

  • avatar
    Ugliest1

    “Tesla aimed high, and it won’t be a disaster for the company if it falls short”

    One thing that keeps me as a fan, without putting on *too* many blinders I hope, is that Tesla’s mission from day one has been to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Musk said on camera in Who Killed the Electric Car (or the followup Revenge of the EV) he thought most likely that Tesla would fail, but that he was trying to force the other carmakers into taking EV production seriously. The original estimates Tesla had for demand of the Model S was 20,000 per year. Now, the S and X are selling 100,000 per year.

    And, more importantly, the other carmakers are FINALLY taking EV propulsion seriously and bringing their own models into production. Better late than never I suppose. Other people state Tesla’s, or Musk’s, goal is to become the biggest carmaker or most valuable carmaker in the world. Not true; Tesla is on record that they just want the other ones to wake up before there are no roses to smell.

    I agree with the author… I’m really tired of the two extreme views too. But I’ve found far more lies and misinformation coming from the hater group. For example the $465 million loan that Tesla received — AND PAID BACK EARLY WITH INTEREST — is often quoted as the public just handing out money to Tesla, also failing to mention the bailouts that all other US companies except Ford received… and Ford got a loan from the same source as Tesla many times the size, that they have not yet paid back fully. But all that gets translated into Tesla ripping off the government for $465 million. So, I confess I’m more tired of one group than the other.

    • 0 avatar
      bienville

      It was paid back with a bond issue, a/k/a paying off your credit card with another credit card. It’s not like they paid it back out of profits.

    • 0 avatar
      The Soul of Wit

      “I am tired of the extreme views…”

      So am I. Seems like there are ONLY two VERY extreme views on any/every issue these days. Fact based reporting, on just about any subject, would be a refreshing change for me.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Kudos for a nicely written, sane article. From someone who’s seriously considering an electric as his next car. And, if I were to buy today, or within the next twelve months, it’d most likely be a Chevy Bolt.

    Because I prefer to buy my electric car as a car. Not as a statement of saving the world, or how cool I am, because it’s the epitome of trendiness.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      Syke,

      “Because I prefer to buy my electric car as a car. Not as a statement of saving the world, or how cool I am, because it’s the epitome of trendiness.”

      Absolutely!

      And this is why it is so important to level the taxes / subsidies playing field. It’s really hard for a consumer to know what’s what.

      Under current circumstances, EVs are uneconomical, except in special circumstances. A small, high efficiency IC engine is more economical… and we know that engineers will continue to improve it.

      Ultimately, though, I wonder if it is reasonable to leave this topic to be decided by individual consumers. The “best choice” for each of us is not necessarily the best choice for all of us.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        So your choice is the best for everyone? You can’t support any of your ridiculous claims so you want to end debate. You are a Marxist, and the enemy of humanity.

        • 0 avatar
          BobNelson

          ToddAtlasF1,

          “You are a Marxist, and the enemy of humanity.”

          Wow… … …. WOW!

        • 0 avatar
          The Soul of Wit

          Here’s a concept: Laissez-Faire….let pure markets function….WITHOUT any government subsidies or intervention, with a FAIR and OBJECTIVE media distributing information by doing fact-based reporting (unbiased, no information published unless verified by two sources, opinions and conjecture and speculation CLEARLY labeled as such)and a consumer population educated in bias-free schools with an education which promotes independent thinking a love of facts and science. It would be interesting to see what our world would look like if those conditions existed.

          Guess we’ll never know….

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @BobNelson:

        Let’s just say there are a lot of misconceptions on both sides of the ICEV/BEV argument. Your own statement presents two of them.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Tim, I pretty much agree with all your points.

    A few of us here have paid real money for an EV, and therefore have a pragmatic view of the technology, and of Tesla. I leased a Leaf for three years, and hold a reservation for a Model 3. My Model S test drive was exhilarating.

    I’m not a greenie, but I don’t mind better fuel economy, or less pollution. I’m annoyed with Mr Musk’s obsession with saving the Earth; it’s a distraction from the appeal of building cool cars.

    Although I’m looking forward to getting a Model 3, I have concerns: spotty initial quality, a pattern of blaming and denial by the company (Musk), poor service center coverage, and Porsche-like price inflation of options.

    And here’s an odd concern: I don’t want to be labeled as a ‘rich guy’ for driving a vehicle that costs the same as a modestly-optioned pickup truck. The Model 3 has been Tesla’s goal all along; the expensive S and X have merely been a means to that end. Model 3 sales will soon dwarf S and X sales, and the median price of a Tesla will drop dramatically. But the public perception of Tesla as a high-end EV producer will persist for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @SCE: I agree! I’m not “virtue signaling” or trying to save money, I just like electric powered cars. If more people in the auto enthusiast community would just take some time and drive a Tesla, they’d see why some of us like EVs and that it’s not about politics for us.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Friends of ours once bought a used Mercedes SUV, and promptly received reverse snobbery from their neighbors and acquaintances. Horrified, they traded it for a new Toyota minivan which cost *more*, and they instantly became invisible.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Thank you for this article. My sentiments exactly.

  • avatar
    volvo

    As a taxpayer investor in Tesla and other Musk enterprises such as solar city and the Gigafactory (via grants, tax incentives and purchase subsidies) I hope that Tesla succeeds.

    My only concern is regardless of the size of my investment I haven’t received any stock certificates in the mail yet. At this point I would settle for a couple of carbon tax credits.

    Given the current price of $380/share and a negative PE of 70 (means negative earnings/share) I don’t think I will be placing orders for TSLA in the regular market and just have to remain a passive investor. Probably another opportunity lost.

  • avatar

    Tesla is a very electrifying company (Pun intended).

    There’s a chance that Tesla could disrupt an industry that hasn’t changed much for decades. That chance does two things.

    1. It excites progressives and that excitement brings way too much optimism and grandiose thinking. Reality distortion firmly engaged.

    2. It scares the conservatives. Everything is fine, don’t upset the apple cart, change is evil, Tesla can’t be allowed to succeed. So they have to talk it down to stop from going crazy.

    What I find interesting is to contrast the same peoples approach to the climate. The progressives are concerned we are killing our planet and ourselves – don’t upset the apple cart. They are scared, change is evil, carbon can’t succeed and must be taxed into oblivion. The conservatives consider any measurable change to be explainable and not significant. Nothing to be worried about, everythings OK, let’s keep the pedal to the metal, progress is good. Stop talking about it.

    We all get excited by one thing and scared by another. Interesting to see how folks make their choices.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Tribalism, man. Tribalism.

      I see it in every political debate on every topic. Pick a side and defend, instead of allowing nuance and conceding on some points. No matter what your politics are, it’s killing discourse.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        Tim,

        “Tribalism, man. Tribalism.

        I see it in every political debate on every topic. Pick a side and defend, instead of allowing nuance and conceding on some points. No matter what your politics are, it’s killing discourse.”

        True.

        Also true: “Two sides to the debate” is the death of rational thought. Reality is routinely denied in public discourse. It has become accepted practice to make stuff up.

        Civility is important. Without it, conversation ceases, and all hope for conclusion dies. This creates an imperative for all: “Do not be… imperative!”

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      “We all get excited by one thing and scared by another. Interesting to see how folks make their choices.”

      Progressives are made by brainwashing. Conservatives have learned from experience. Progressives believe what they’ve been conditioned to believe. Conservatives trust only what actually happens, such as climate change alarmists always saying disaster is imminent when it continues to not transpire, and immediate action through the destruction of economic liberty is always the answer whether the threat is a new ice age or rising oceans. Thinking man says climate change alarmists only care about destroying economic liberty. Brain washed progressives say the world can’t afford people doing what they want. Meanwhile, people doing what they want creates wealth that makes everyone better off, while progressives claim to only care about the disparity between creators of wealth and the poor. Environmentalism is now even allowing progressive leaders to uncover their misanthropy.

      It is true that progressives and conservatives worry about different things. Conservatives worry about a growing government where successful business ideas get their revenue streams from tax collectors while progressives are still trying to appease a planet they don’t understand by throwing virgins into volcanos. Progressives are taught that Robin Hood was a hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, while conservatives know that he stole from the tax collectors and returned what he took to its rightful owners.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Progressives are made by brainwashing. Conservatives have learned from experience. Progressives believe what they’ve been conditioned to believe. ”

        That alone is a prejudiced statement which is also a lie; that is what the Conservatives WANT you to believe. How do I know? I’ve been a registered Republican all my life and I’ve actively SEEN the shift in thinking from the conservatives. Just a little bit of objective observation seen without the smoke-tinted glasses of Conservatism would show you that both sides have their problems when where we should be is somewhere in the middle.

        I could address each of your points individually but to be quite blunt, you’re showing signs of being brainwashed yourself. Why? Because you’re obviously believing things they are telling you without doing any research of your own.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          You’re giving him too much credit, Vulpine. Guy’s a troll.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Maybe, FM. Maybe not. I at least try to avoid calling people names or otherwise insulting them openly. I don’t always succeed but if I lower myself to their tactics then I’m no better than they are and I’m trying to make a point that compromise is more effective than extremism for getting things done.

    • 0 avatar
      The Soul of Wit

      Um. Mr. White.

      I am a conservative and I like the idea of progress just fine. Please do not lump groups of people together. We are all individuals. I agree there may be conservatives who don’t like change, as you suggest. But to lump us all together is unsound thinking. I believe TESLA should be given every opportunity to succeed. I simply don’t believe that our government should be in the business of determining winners and losers with policy. Laissez-Faire….

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Always laugh when the Tesla 3 vs. Bolt comparison is made. Yes, Bolt beat 3 to market, but the ultimate goal of any car company is to make cars that people want to buy. Only the odd cheapskate or EV-loving dork WANTS a Bolt. Others will buy some because the calculus makes sense, but no one really lies awake WANTING one, unlike a Tesla. That’s the genius of Musk, he’s selling premium-priced avocado toast, and GM is selling steamed broccoli.

    • 0 avatar

      This post is so Millennial right now.

      Also, the Bolt has a nasty interior which displeased me considerably.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The Bolt is from a company that is punished by investors if it doesn earn a profit, which means the Bolt’s styling is utilitarian, and its interior quality is highly compromised. Old school GM and its products also don’t get much free publicity, while every word that Saint Elon utters is page 1 news globally even though Tesla spends virtually nothing on marketing. In contrast to the GM and its Bolt, the Model 3 is from a company that crazy investors seem to think does not ever have to generate a profit. Tesla is no miracle – just about anyone could put together a fantastic car with few compromises in performance, quality, aesthetics, etc. if they didn’t have to earn a profit, got ‘free’ manufacturing plants, and had customers who got ‘free money’ for buying the product. The only problem I have with Tesla is that some of that “free Tesla money” is coming out of my pocket.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Given that the CUV is the hot ticket in autodom right now, it baffles me that Tesla made the Model 3 a small sedan. And not even a hatch like its big sister.

      I got a look around one in CA this week – was working in a place chock full of nuclear scientist and other assorted geeks so unsurprisingly there was a new Model 3 in the electric car parking lot. It is cheap and nasty inside too. As I have expected, $35K Civic, not electric BMW. Passed one driving on I-880 at night too – no way could I deal with the shear glare of that ridiculous screen.

      I infinitely prefer steamed broccoli to avocado on anything. I think there is a decent chance that the Model 3 sinks Tesla. Even if they can build as many as they say, I see no way that their current sales and support operation can handle that amount of volume. Everyone loves the IDEA of direct car sales, but the reality according to the people I know who actually bought one is something else entirely.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        krhodes1,

        “… it baffles me that Tesla made the Model 3 a small sedan. And not even a hatch like its big sister.”

        Agreed.

        I think that a sedan is intrinsically cheaper than a hatch. A trunk lid is cheaper than that fifth door. And cost also explains the other defects you list.

        An EV’s drive train is more expensive than an IC’s, so to keep the overall cost acceptable, the manufacturer skimps on everything else. For a higher-scale model, fit-and-finish costs are easier to drown. But in a “medium-scale” car (Bolt or Model 3), the consequence is a “cheap” interior.

        Still… Let’s remember that the economies of scale for IC are a couple of orders of magnitude greater than for EV. Will this gradually decline? Dunno!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “An EV’s drive train is more expensive than an IC’s,”

          —- Why? It’s a simple electric motor with a single reduction gear. Far simpler and cheaper than an engine made up of dozens of moving parts and a transmission made up of even more. The cost difference is in the battery, where essentially you’re paying for your fuel up front as electricity is relatively cheap… at least in the US (half the price of regular gas at its worst.) The cost of those batteries is coming down, too; to the point that it won’t be much longer before BEVs cost only a little more up front than ICEVs.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            Vulpine,

            ” ‘An EV’s drive train is more expensive than an IC’s,’

            —- Why? It’s a simple electric motor with a single reduction gear.”

            I think you are greatly simplifying… but let’s not quibble. I agree that a side-by-side comparison of materials and labor doesn’t seem to justify the EV being significantly more costly than the IC.

            As I said, I suspect that economies of scale are a big part, in which case you are probably right that this difference will diminish and perhaps invert. Elon Musk is probably praying a lot that it does!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Industrial electric motors tend to run from a few hundred dollars to about $2k, depending on horsepower (more if you’re going for the REALLY big motors.) The thing is, these motors are designed for constant use and are rated for hundreds of thousands of hours between overhauls. Tesla’s motors are smaller in general and built for more precise speed control BUT this control is all electronic, having no effect on the motor’s simplicity or reliability. On that point, the only similarity is the control system used to ensure the vehicle’s speed and acceleration are controlled adequately, meaning that the multi-thousand-dollar, fully-assembled engine and transmission can be replaced by a motor and axle assembly costing 75% less.

            Computers are easy to swap out. Motors are easy to swap out. Engine/transmission swaps, not so easy.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            Vulpine,

            I think we are agreeing.

            I didn’t say that an EV drive train is intrinsically more costly. I said that is currently more costly.

            Manufacturers have been building IC drive trains for a long time. They have learned lots and lots of details about how to do it efficiently. They build tens of millions per year.

            I don’t doubt that EV drive trains will evolve in the same way. The “affinage” of the production process is probably slowed by the rapid evolution of the basic technology, batteries and controllers. And inverters. And cooling systems. And whatever… There must be product stability in order to “continuously improve” the production process.

            But it will come.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    “It scares the conservatives.” Really? I thought this was a conversation about the car and the ramifications.

    So I’ll add “the dash looks like a Scandinavian coffee table with a USB flash picture frame.”

    Now back to the math. Great car to thrive in the LA HOV lanes. Road trip in the flyover states, would love to know when that will be attainable. Oh, yeah, I got it, just another round of government-funded (and poorly planned) electric charging stations.

    I am on record that SpaceX has brought costs down in the space delivery market. But don’t pull out your carbon emissions calculator without adding in all of those tax credits, actual carbon cost to manufacture and ultimately deal with the waste byproduct and convince me we’ve solved the world’s problems thanks to Elon. Don’t even get me started on the shill company “Solar City”.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Road trip in the flyover states would love to know when that will be attainable”

      Have you looked at a supercharge map lately? It’s doable now. If you wait until the end of next year, North Dakota will be included.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        ““Road trip in the flyover states would love to know when that will be attainable””

        Tesla has been doing that since the winter of ’13/’14, when they drove coast to coast to attend the New York auto show.

        Oh, and they had to abandon an ICEV support van in a blizzard in South Dakota due to breakdown while the two Teslas kept humming right along, charging ONLY at available Supercharger sites.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        If you have plenty of time to waste watching the vehicle recharge.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          What? You’re in a hurry on a coast-to-coast drive? The average person takes no less than four days to drive it anyway. If you’re in a hurry, fly. That “halfway around the world” flight only takes about 12-18 hours (depending on type of aircraft and routing.) Cross country in the US is typically less than 6 hours in the air.

          I did 2000 miles (not quite coast to coast, obviously, in 48 hours–two days–counting all stops back in 1980. That included stops for rest, food, refueling and sightseeing at the Meteor Crater in Arizona. Each of my refueling stops included a one-hour stop for food and rest, plus an 8-hour stop for solid sleep in Arkansas. Wanna know something? A Tesla could do the same thing today with the recharging infrastructure already in place. The other brands will be able to do it relatively soon as VW is paying billions to install recharging infrastructure across the country, not even counting ChargePoint and other installations.

          The point is that while you’re recharging, you don’t have to stand (or sit) at the car, wasting time; you can go inside and eat, drink, shop, use the facilities or just about anything else you would normally do at a rest stop–including taking a nap so you start out again refreshed and able to handle another 300 miles or so.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            I don’t need to eat/drink/shop every 300 miles while traveling cross country.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            How old are you, Flipper? When I was doing that, the speed limits were only 55mph. That means no less than 5.5 hours and I know many people who can’t even hold their water that long.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    Yup, I’ve looked. It appears to be a ratio of 10:1. Just throw out the time involved. Perhaps casino gaming should be added.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I’m not buying any new car until they figure out how to make the center screen look like it belongs in the car vs. tacked on. I think only Volvo has solved this problem.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I saw a delivery truck load of new Teslas on I-44 in Missouri last week. Shockingly it was an evil diesel semi tractor pulling the trailer. Maybe it’s another year or so for Muskie to get his delivery fleet converted. If they used the combined juice from the 7 Teslas on the trailer, how far across the continent could they make it?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I gripe more because the EV (Tesla) haters try to claim the EV (Tesla) can’t do what it’s already doing. They say it can’t do road trips yet (Tesla) has been doing cross-country road trips for almost three years. They say it can’t handle heavy use when (Tesla) has several cars with well over 100,000 miles already on the clock.

    But more, not the Chevy Bolt is proving an EV CAN do things these (haters) say EVs can’t by in many cases current owners claiming well over 300 miles per charge in a vehicle only rated for 235 miles. True, the Bolt is nearly a thousand pounds lighter than Tesla’s Model S but it’s also carrying a smaller battery that supposedly gives the Tesla ONLY 200 miles, if that much. What these Bolt drivers are proving is that if you drive it reasonably and not like an idiot, you can gain 33% better economy and if the Bolt can do it, why not the Tesla 3?

    No, I’m an EV proponent and I’ve listened to lies about EVs for over five years. Tesla’s greatest achievement is the fact that they’ve forced the other OEMs to compete against a product they didn’t even want to acknowledge. Tesla’s greatest advantage today is not the Models S or X or even the 3, but rather the high-speed recharging infrastructure that enables their cars to travel cross country in a reasonable amount of time, even if said recharging takes longer than refueling an equivalent ICEV. This ability is coming to the other EVs but I am personally concerned about the cost of such recharging as, unlike Tesla, these fee-based operations are charging equivalent or higher per-mile rates as gasoline to cover the same distance while Tesla has claimed, “… local power rates (to the site) plus a small fee,” meaning probably ½ to ¼ that of these other charging networks.

    Is Musk a genius? I think so. After all, this IS “rocket science” even if nobody wants to admit it. For BEVs to become popular, their cost needs to be roughly equivalent or cheaper than the ICEVs against which it must compete. Clearly, these other networks are ignoring this in the hopes of quick profits that could instead push their efforts towards bankruptcy by preventing the very types of travel they’re supposedly trying to promote (or are they really doing it to drive potential customers away from BEVs and back to gasoline/diesel?) Whatever the reason, Musk is obviously working to drive the transition, whether his own brand survives or not. At least for now, his efforts appear to be working in a way the others, as yet, are not.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Vulpine,
      Even though your response is true regarding Tesla’s US cross country drive it is not viable for the majority.

      Back in 1948 the USAF made the first non stop round the world flight in a B-50. Still 67 years later with massive tech and engineering advances you would think any large aircraft could fly not around the globe non stop, but at least halfway economically. We are still waiting.

      We can only fly 15000km not 21000 non stop.

      The biggest hurdles for EVs is not the tech to manufacture them, but infrastructure to support their use as a viable ICE replacement.

      This begs me to ask. Who the fnck do you expect to pay for the trillions to make EVs a realistic ICE alternative.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “This begs me to ask. Who the fnck do you expect to pay for the trillions to make EVs a realistic ICE alternative.”

        Elon Musk is already paying in the $billions. Every other automaker, one way or another, is already buying into the technology themselves, even though they didn’t want to. Why? Because if Tesla succeeds in selling hundreds of thousands of BEVs annually, their ICE market WILL start to fade and they’d have to spend more, faster, to catch up. By starting more slowly, they have the ability to surpass Tesla on an individual basis and guarantee that THEY reap the profits before Tesla can earn profit.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Vulpine,
          Do you realise that the current electricity infrastructure needs to be increased to handle an additional 20% larger load over the course of time. It’s not just the cost of the chargers, it’s also the space and time required to recharge a vehicle in one of those spaces.

          Where EVs are expected to be most viable, inner city regions space is already at a premium.

          As EVs mature the true cost will become evident. Right now there is so much subsidisation who really knows how much is tax money Musk and all others are using.

          An EV vehicle will cost more to purchase and keep on the road.

          EVs will become viable when they can generate their own electricity, or obtain electricity like a tram/trolley or train.

          I see the EV vehicle as not the problem. It’s all the support and infrastructure required.

          I think the countries that are making declarations of no ICE vehicles over the next 15-25 years have their heads in a cloud.

          It just ain’t viable and will be too costly. Maybe in a century.

          Like I said we can’t even fly halfway around the world, but yet we achieved global circumnavigation nearly 70 years ago and put a man on the moon nearly 50 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Big Al: Did you know that the US alone installed enough NEW windmills in 2016 to power 7 million BEVs? BEVs are not coming into a static environment; the infrastructure is growing right along with the products. As EVs mature, their SAVINGS will become evident as they simply won’t need the level of mechanical support ICEVs require, even when well cared for.

            We’re at the leading edge of a transition period where BEVs are only starting to be felt in the global automotive market and already we have nearly every OEM developing full electric and hybrid electric vehicles to supplement and potentially replace their ICE models over time. Globally speaking, electrified vehicles have seen continued growth, albeit slow growth, for over a decade. They may be less than 2% of sales today (all brands and models) but we could see a significant surge in sales as the VWG, Daimler, Volvo and many others finally release their first ‘real’ offerings onto the market.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Vulpine,
            Adding windmills isn’t only problem. The whole electricity grid needs replacement.

            So, energy costs must rise.

            As handouts become unaffordable you will see the overall cost of EV ownership and operation rise significantly. Moreso than chasing extra mpg’s in an ICE vehicle.

            ICE vehicles will remain for decades to come as I see the need for massive spending to make EVs viable and they will still cost more to buy and operate.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            And again you assume a static environment. Who says the grid isn’t receiving upgrades all the time? Just in my own little neck of the woods, three HUGE transformers have made their way through to major substations. Huge, by the way, meaning they can’t pass under most bridges on the highway and take up the entire width of a two-lane highway and more. They received as much escort by police and utilities that you’d think they were moving a house as power lines and traffic signals needed to be raised or otherwise bypassed on their way to the station.

            Believe me, the electric grid is not static; it’s always getting maintenance and upgrades as demand shifts and grows. However, because the cost of GENERATING that electricity is falling, said companies have more money to upgrade the grid itself. Remember, fueling a fossil plant costs money. When you don’t have to buy fuel, that money can go where it’s more useful.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “As handouts become unaffordable you will see the overall cost of EV ownership and operation rise significantly.”

            *If* demand for these vehicles continues to rise, prices won’t. In fact, they’ll fall, as prices have fallen with every other piece of “leading edge” tech in recent memory (including the personal computer you wrote your post on -the government gave out tax credits to early adopters of that tech as well).

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      It isn’t that they can’t do it due to infrastructure or range, it is a time issue. Many people don’t want to spend more than an hour every 300 miles (maybe more, maybe less) waiting for the car to charge. To drive half way across the country that adds 6 hours to the trip, just in charging. Yes, a couple of those hours could be spent eating, but we tend to eat breakfast and lunch on the fly to save time.

      Once that charge from 20% to 100% is down to 15 minutes and proper infrastructure it will make a major difference.

      An electric would work for our second car, but not as our primary car. Yet.

      I am not for or against an EV. They work well for some, not so well for others.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Flipper: While I might agree somewhat to your statement, even as a young driver I simply tended to stop and eat after refueling because you can’t row a shifter and steer effectively with a sandwich in one hand. You also risk a horrendous mess to clean up if your sandwich is full of catsup, mustard, mayonnaise and greasy meat when you drop it on the seat or floorboards. I just found it easier to actually get out of the car for a bit and stretch my muscles than try.

        Oh, and you will never charge to 100% in a mere 15 minutes. You might get to 96% but if you pay attention to the 70% rule, you get 70% of your charge in the first time period (set by capacity and impedance of the circuit), 70% of the remaining in the second, equal amount of time and another 70% in the third. You can get by with two of those periods and achieve a hair over 90% of full, the third only adds another 7% to that. That is a law of physics.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Flipper,
        I’m not talking about a niche market, like EVs currently represent.

        Massive changes and investment is needed. The government can’t keep on throwing money at this.

  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    The reason Tesla is valued so high:
    Amazon
    Apple
    Google
    Facebook
    etc.
    There could be a huge upside.

    GM appears to be vulnerable. They have good products now, but they stunk it up for quite a while. Like burnt toast, that smell is going to be around a while.

    Electric and self driving cars are happening. Elon is landing and reusing rockets, digging tunnels and he started PayPal. Don’t be surprised if they start rolling out more products. I think the battery business may have a huge upside too. Tesla stock has better odds than the lottery. If it fails, the early cars will be very collectible.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The reason Tesla is value so high is a substantial portion of investors are so stupid they actually think making cars can actually be as profitable as selling digital bytes in the form of ads (Google and Facebook), e-books (Amazon), and Chinese built electronics (Apple).

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Yesterday, I had my bimonthly breakfast with two retired, former co-workers. One of them is the ultimate car enthusiast who purchased a new Tesla Model S about a year ago and initially loved the car. He would use it for road trips to Rehobath beach about 160 miles away where he has a second house. He would do a rest stop and pick up a partial charge to give himself some cushion on battery charge.
    I was the first one to arrive yesterday and was sitting by the window when I say Jim pulling into a parking space, but not in the white Model S, but instead in a white BMW iM electric. When we left the diner, I asked him what happened to the Tesla. He replied that he grew to hate it and traded in at the local BMW dealer for the iM which he also uses for road trips to the same location previously mentioned.
    I asked him what made him change his mind about the Tesla, and he said that it a combination of quality issues and too many repairs with the nearest Tesla service being 65 miles away, spotty electronics as well as automatic retracting side mirrors that didn’t always work in cold weather.
    He still loves electric cars, but thought that BMW would be far more reliable and easy to service.
    He is the only Tesla owner I know so take this with as many grains of salt as needed.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    This article is rational, balanced, thoughtful and nuanced. What’s it doing here? ; >

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Why does it have a mid-00s Dell flat panel monitor in the center console?

    Oh and where is the speedo cluster, or whatever passes for that these days?

    Suck less next time, Elon.

  • avatar
    bhtooefr

    Basically, here’s where I am on Tesla:

    Negatives:

    I hate their approach to TOUCHSCREEN ALL THE THINGS.
    There’s some concerns that I have about how they use data gathered from the cars.
    The Model 3 not being a liftback is disqualifying for me.
    They’re not as bad as some companies, but they’re definitely part of the Silicon Valley “ship it and deal with fixing it later” culture.

    Positives:

    They’re taking on the corrupt dealer system in this country.
    They get what’s required to get people to adopt EVs, and have deployed by far the best DC fast charging network. Meanwhile, everyone else is either creating piss-ant 25-50 kW networks that aren’t really helpful (BMW, Nissan), they’re being forced into it (VW), or they simply aren’t doing it because their ICE customers can’t use it (GM).
    Their products are pretty clearly the best EVs, even if they’re not the best cars in some metric.


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