Tag: Elon Musk

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.

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By on September 1, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

The National Labor Relations Board has filed an official complaint against Tesla Motors, saying the company violated workers’ rights by suppressing their efforts to unionize.

While automakers hoping to keep employees from joining a union is nothing new, the NLRB’s issue focuses around an obligatory confidentiality agreement that may have prohibited them from openly discussing their working conditions and safety concerns at the company’s facility in Fremont, California. The agency also investigated allegations from the workers that Tesla intimidated and harassed them, which would be a violation of workers’ rights under federal labor law.

Meanwhile, Tesla has decided not to take any of this sitting down. The electric automaker has issued a scathing response to the complaint by giving the United Auto Workers a piece of its mind.
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By on August 22, 2017

ford-autonomous-car-technology

The United Nations recently voted to begin formal discussions on autonomous weapon systems, with 116 of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence experts responding by calling on governments to simply ban them.

The coalition, fronted by Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman, claims this is a dark road the world doesn’t want to go down. Aimed at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, a letter from the group warned the U.N. not to usher in the “third revolution in warfare” (following gunpowder and nuclear arms).

While I’m not about to suggest there aren’t serious risks involved with weaponizing thinking machines, it does seem lightly hypocritical for Musk to condemn them over a lack of trust while continuing to champion self-driving cars. Apparently, technology experts feel a Terminator scenario is thoroughly unacceptable but a potential Maximum Overdrive situation is just fine.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

tesla model 3

Tesla Motors launched the Model 3 last month and has been scrambling to improve production volume as over 500,000 eagerly await delivery. However, by the time Tesla hits its targeted production rate of 10,000 units per week in 2018, it is still going to have months — if not a full year — of orders sizzling on the back burner.

It’s not the worst problem to have, since each reservation holder tossed down a $1,000 deposit. But CEO Elon Musk is aware that meeting demand is going to be an uphill battle. “We’re going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell,” Musk told the press ahead of Model 3 launch event.

With the company already having spent over $2 billion in capital this year, restocking the safe is probably a good idea. As an upstart automaker framing itself as going into battle with traditional manufacturers, Tesla is issuing $1.5 billion in junky war bonds to fund the coming onslaught.  (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

The production Tesla Model 3, revealed in full at a Friday evening handover ceremony, is an impressive vehicle, but it’s also the California automaker’s most important vehicle. With 220 miles of range in stripped-down base trim, or 310 miles for the starting sum of $44,ooo (the only version available at launch), the curvaceous sedan has no shortage of fans. It’s also facing no shortage of threats.

The company’s future as a mass-market “disruptor” of the American automotive landscape hinges on the Model 3’s trouble-free production at Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant, as well as timely deliveries to the half-million reservation holders. Unforeseen quality issues, a breakdown in the supply chain, or worker strife could all conspire to give the vehicle — and company — a black eye.

After a year spent giving investors everything they wished for, the company’s once-skyrocketing stock isn’t on the same firm ground as before. The first trading day after the event reflected this. Investors are nervous about a number of things: the model’s easily inflatable price, the company’s extremely lofty production target, and CEO Elon Musk’s repeated mentions of “hell.” (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2017

elon musk

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has been a longtime proponent of artificial intelligence, saying it has applications that far exceed his autonomous car projects. But he’s also issued numerous warnings, stating that it must be handled safely and responsibly. Now he’s heralding it as a humankind’s great destructor.

Speaking Saturday at the National Governors Association in Rhode Island, Musk told the crowd A.I. is a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” Urging the gathering to implement effective governmental regulation to ensure public safety. “Right now the government doesn’t even have insight,” Musk said. “Once there is awareness people will be extremely afraid, as they should be.”  (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2017

Tesla Model 3 Duo - Image: Tesla

If Tesla stock was an airplane, it would have left Earth’s atmosphere sometime this spring. By June, that aircraft — let’s call it the Model P — would have been within striking distance of Mars. Indeed, Tesla investors made out like bandits as the company’s shares soared and its market cap sailed past that of Ford and General Motors, making it the most valuable domestic automaker.

For a while, it seemed nothing could stop Tesla’s meteoric rise. Not labor strife, not worries about the Model 3’s production timeline, not a cracked A-pillar on a freshly delivered Model S, not Model X doors trapping people inside a burning vehicle, not allegations of subpar working conditions, nothing. Tesla may as well have tried buying the rights to the word Teflon.

Well, CEO Elon Musk said it best himself in May. The company’s market valuation was “higher than we have any right to deserve,” he told The Guardian, a month before Tesla shares rose to a record $383.45. As the saying goes, “What goes up…” (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2017

tesla-model-3

Production of the Model 3 is set to begin two weeks ahead of schedule, according to Tesla Motors chief executive and second most famous Twitter user in America, Elon Musk. While that news would probably be more exciting if we had ever been given a definitive timeline for the vehicle, the CEO claims it should equate to the very first car rolling off the assembly line by the end of this week.

“Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday,” Musk tweeted late last night, causing half a million Tesla fans to engage in a collective round of giddy, high-pitched squealing. However, the most enthralled members of the company’s rabid fan base are likely to be the 30 people who get to wrap their quivering digits around the steering wheel of their very own Model 3 before the end of July.  (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

Model Y teaser, Image: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors has released its first official teaser image of the Model Y, a future entry in the highly profitable compact crossover segment. At a shareholder meeting yesterday, CEO Elon Musk said he believes the Model Y will eventually outsell the Model 3. While he made similar claims about Model X volume before the vehicle entered production — a prediction which did not pan out — Musk says the company has learned from the errors made in the larger CUV’s development.

Unlike the Model X, the Model Y will use a unique platform and receive a dedicated assembly line at its own factory. Musk also told investors that production expenditures would be significantly lower for the small crossover, compared to the Model 3.  (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2017

Tesla Factory California

In the face of what it describes as “a concerted and professional media push intended to raise questions about safety at Tesla,” the California electric automaker has attempted to counter an apparent unionization tactic.

In a May 14th blog post titled “Creating the Safest Car Factory in the World,” Tesla said it was contacted by numerous media sources claiming to have spoken with similar workers at its Fremont assembly plant. The automaker sees this as an attempt by both the United Auto Workers and Tesla employees intent on organizing the plant to use instances of workplace injury as an organizational tool.

This morning, the story Tesla was working to get ahead of landed in The Guardian. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has said it is making efforts to resolve outstanding issues with Grohmann Engineering’s legacy clients, including Daimler, BMW, Bosch, Intel, and Volkswagen Group. After the Tesla takeover last November, CEO Elon Musk indicated to Grohmann’s management team that the brunt of its efforts should be diverted away from former customers in order to focus primarily on production facilities related to the Model 3.

The move placed Musk at odds with company founder Klaus Grohmann, eventually resulting in his abrupt departure, and was a major source of tension among the German workforce — which, backed by IG Metall, has threatened to strike. Negotiations have already yielded improved worker pay and hiring promises, but Tesla now appears to be tackling the issue of how to handle the numerous clients who have been hung out to dry. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t getting any. By that we mean profits, as the electric automaker reported a $397 million first-quarter loss yesterday, adding to the red ink spilled in the previous quarter.

While the company’s revenue rose 18.4 percent in Q1 and deliveries climbed 12 percent, spending on Model 3 production more than offset the increase in cash flow. Musk took the loss in stride, playing the long game in a quarterly investors call, and claimed a combination of higher production numbers and lower operating costs will send those gray clouds packing.

Finances aside, the conference call yielded far more interesting topics, including details of the upcoming Model Y. Also, it seems people are becoming confused by Tesla’s naming strategy, and Musk has no one but Ford — and a dirty mind — to blame. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has smooth-talked its Californian workforce out of unionizing for some time, but the labor war is now being waged on two fronts.

Since acquiring German supplier Grohmann Engineering, that company’s workforce has accused Tesla of unfair wages and dissolving established business ties to focus solely on the upcoming Model 3. Elon Musk was forced to personally reassure Grohmann, now called Tesla Advanced Automation Germany, to keep it from syncing up with autoworkers’ union IG Metall and going on strike.

Since the supplier is an essential part of the Model 3’s timely production, Tesla has changed tactics and is now throwing more money at Germany and promising extra jobs in the hope of avoiding work stoppages. It also apparently removed the company’s CEO and founder, Klaus Grohmann, after repeated clashes with Musk over the firm’s future.  (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

Tesla Model 3

It’s no secret that the success of Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3 will dictate its position as a mainstream automaker for the foreseeable future. Tesla’s current status as the most valuable carmaker in the United States is riding, almost entirely, on the problem-free assembly of its “affordable” EV this summer. So, when one of its German suppliers threatened to go on strike earlier this month, you can imagine the series of panic attacks CEO Elon Musk probably suffered.

Last week, the company’s recently acquired industrial robotics unit Grohmann began labor negotiations over insufficient wages and Tesla’s decision to suspend all contracts that didn’t pertain specifically to the Model 3. And, to ensure things went his way, Musk has become directly involved in the process.

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By on March 31, 2017

Bob Lutz

If you’re unfamiliar with Bob Lutz, it’s likely that you’re a recent addition to the world of automotive enthusiasm. Allow me to be the first to welcome you. The rest of us have been following Lutz’s career shift from extremely outspoken auto executive to extremely outspoken car blogger for years. Now 85, he hasn’t become any less critical of the industry after entering his “retirement,” nor has his advanced age done much to soften his frank rhetoric.

Love or hate him, Lutz’s time spent jumping between the Big Three has provided him with unique insights — and he always has plenty to say on the current state of the American automotive industry. His most recent revelations circle around the unsustainable nature of Tesla and his growing distaste for president Trump, despite his having voted for him.  (Read More…)

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