According to Neidermeyer’s post, a 2013 Tesla Model S owner on the Tesla Motors Owners forum experienced a ball joint failure at around the 70,000-mile mark, and the owner referred to Tesla for a fix. The automaker offered what’s commonly known in the industry as “goodwill assistance,” which covered half the $3,100 total cost of the repair, as the Model S was out of warranty.
However, the vehicle owner and Neidermeyer took exception to part of the written goodwill agreement as it seems to include a non-disclosure clause, which Neidermeyer contends could dissuade other Tesla issues from reporting issues to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and subvert the federal vehicle issue reporting process.
Is Tesla silencing its customers via threat of litigation? And is this ball joint issue even a problem in the first place?
Here’s some gutsy news from one of the gutsier companies around. Tesla filed papers for an initial public offering (IPO) today, hoping to raise up to $100 million. In its Form S-1 registration statement with the SEC, the Silicon Valley start up said the stock would be issued “as soon as possible”. That part is not very surprising, coming on the heels of securing a $465 million loan from the DOE to help build the Model S. But deeper in the that filing comes a couple of juicier facts: Tesla has lost some $236 million so far, and plans to kill the Roadster, its only product on sale, in 2011. Read More >
There are a lot of places you’d expect to find a defense of trickle down economics (the idea that wealthy people create jobs for people further down the food chain). National Public Radio is not one of them. And yet there it is: the publicly-funded [via rich people] bastion of liberalism ran a piece thanking Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags for . . . buying the Tesla Roadster. Otherwise, Tesla wouldn’t have the capital to build cheaper Teslas for the rest of us (providing you exclude their applications for federal funding, paid for by rich people). “Using money from rich customers to fuel mass-market production is a fairly common business model,” NPR’s reporter reports. “Think of the Tesla Roadster as the $2000 cell phone of 1985,” Tesla spinmeister, Diarmuid O’Connell, suggests helpfully. Is it a coincidence that the DeLorean-lauding movie Back to the Future came out that year? Probably. Anyway, “O’Connell says we take for granted our easy access to cheap products, and forget the role of the rich in making it happen. He says we wouldn’t enjoy such low airfares today if it weren’t for the initial wealthy travelers.” Me, I worship first class passengers. Anyway, big news! New car!
Saturday’s San Jose Mercury News carried a short piece on the swift conclusion of the Tesla v. Fisker arbitration hearings. “Tesla had alleged that Fisker stole trade secrets to create his Fisker Karma while working under contract to design a car for Tesla.”Somehow the notion that a bunch of automotive neophytes were generating significant trade secrets and that said secrets were whisked out the back door by industry veteran Fisker never did smell right. Sure enough, “retired Judge William McDonald found in November that Tesla’s case was ‘baseless.'” Tesla says it will pay up, someday. Not that Fisker needs the cash. In September, Fisker closed a $65 million investment round led by the Qatar Investment Authority on top of two previous Kleiner-Perkins led venture investment rounds.
Now that the economic downturn has liberated Tesla Motors’ inner Curly– we’re a victim of coimcumstance!– CEO Elon Musk has finally admitted what TTAC said all along: they’re not making a dime on the $109k Tesla Roadster. OK, the self-annointed CEO says they weren’t making a profit. In fact, Musk tells BusinessWeek that the EV maker was $40k over budget per vehicle. Which would make it a break-even proposition. Yes, “Tesla had to delay the launch by six months while it looked for a way to make the car profitably. Musk fired founding CEO Martin Eberhard and brought in as interim chief Michael Marks, an executive at electronics maker Flextronics International.” And now Musk is busy re-writing recent history. “A few weeks ago, Tesla seemed to be on the road to making that [world domination] happen. Musk had verbal commitments for $100 million in private capital, federal loan guarantees geared at jump-starting development of alternative vehicles, and thoughts of going public next year.” OK, that brings up to Musk’s favorite time period: the future!
In this breathless interview by an adoring newswoman, Elon Musk says that the Tesla Roadster is doing great! And that Tesla’s OEM supply business is doing great! And that the Silicon Valley electric vehicle maker (retrofitter? is slowing down on WhiteElephant sedan development because it’s the fiscally prudent thing to do so. Musk anticipates some cheap government capital in six months (courtesy of tax payers just like you), so why raise more money now? In other words of wisdom, Tesla’ self-appointed CEO says falling gas prices aren’t a concern for the company’s business plan because gas prices “aren’t the main reason” for buying a hot sports car which is “environmentally friendly.” (Hint: it’s all about green cred.) Officially, Musk has “no comment” about specific time frames for an IPO, but says it’s “within the realm of possibilities” that Tesla will fleece more investors let outsiders buy a piece of the automaker’s mean, green dream sometime next year. Meanwhile, if your idea of great reporting is a newsbabe hanging on every word of a sanctimonious rich guy, today’s your lucky day.
Tesla Motors says it’s secured 90 acres between San Jose and Santa Clara, CA to build its world headquarters. Oh, and production facilities for its (supposedly) upcoming Model S (nee White Star) sedan. The announcement is creating all kinds of excitement among the kind of people who use terms like “green collar jobs” and “cleantech.” “It’s not just another solar company,” says San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “It’s an electric car, which has tremendous upside for us, and a whole new area of job potential.” And of course that excitement translates into taxpayer handout. The San Jose Mercury reports that the City of San Jose will sign a 40-year lease with Tesla for the land, providing the first 10 years rent-free. “In years 11 to 20, Tesla will pay $1.5 million a year for the property, and then see rent increases of 2 percent a year in years 21 to 40. Tesla will pay the usual development fees… but the city will look for a way to rebate them over time once tax revenues start flowing in from the company.” Governator Schwarzenegger has already offered to waive sales taxes on the first $100m of equipment purchased for the factory (angering not a few non-automotive manufacturers). And the plant is being built using a $150m federal Department of Energy loan guarantee. Hey, what happened to the whole Tesla in New Mexico deal? Nothing.
Actually, we're not sure what number Tesla Roadster is chronicled here. But a private and likely very well off citizen in California has procured one and put a video of himself driving it on Ye Olde YouTube. What we can see from the video is: (1) The carbon fiber hood is very light and (2) mother of god, it's quick. A confidential source confirms that the customer paid sticker ($120k) for his lithium-ion-powered automotive trinket. No word on recharge time or range in the video. (As this guy's stable probably includes a fleet of slick cars, I doubt it's of very much consequence.) Now, if Tesla can just amp-up production, not "fad out," keep costs under control (have you seen that showroom?), raise more money, build a more profitable product and fend off competitors, we can take them off the Death Watch. [hat tip to Jonny Lieberman]