Tesla Death Watch 12: NYT Gets Testy With Tesla

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC's Best and Brightest have debated the position of The New York Times in America's psychosociopolitical gestalt. But one thing's for sure: if the Gray Lady pans your high-tech cutting edge PC EV, your five minutes of unadulterated upmarket adulation are over. "Costly Toys, or a New Era for Drivers?" asks Joe Nocera. Obviously, he's going to play it both ways. But the scribe's double negative about Tesla's mainstream ambitions. "Just because Tesla has succeeded in making an expensive electric sports car does not mean that it will be able to make a moderately priced five-seat sedan. The latter is a quantum leap more difficult… David Cole, the chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, is another Tesla skeptic. For one thing, he says, the battery solution in the Roadster probably won’t work in a heavier car. 'Lithium batteries are going to change the world,' he said, 'but they are not ready for prime time.' Tesla’s solution in the Roadster — tying together thousands of small batteries into one giant one — is 'suboptimal.' He added, 'On a degree of difficulty scale, building a sports car is a 2. Building a high-volume affordable car is a 10.'" Nocera gets seriously cranky, narked at Tesla's "petty dissembling." "The more I prodded, though, the more skeptical I became." Join the club Joe. And thanks for reading.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • David Dennis David Dennis on Jul 20, 2008

    Much to my relief, Martin Eberhard finally got his Tesla Roadster yesterday. I guess they figured he finally needed to get it after all their cheery delivery announcements. For some reason the site doesn't seem to want me to link directly to the post, but visiting http://www.teslafounders.com will give you the story. I think we have to call Tesla an honest, good faith effort to deliver cars. After all, they are now delivering cars. Simple enough. They are not a deliberate scam. They may be misguided. They may not be able to build WhiteStar, at least not in the way they are currently promising. I think they are fools to think that they can engineer a nearly all original car with the time and money constraints they have. I think Martin's business plan, which was just to build the Roadster and to continue building Roadsters for the foreseeable future, was sound. I think it's true that they managed to push Chevy into building the Volt, and that's an impressive tactical achievement even if they never manage to get WhiteStar on the ground. Congratulations to Martin, and to everyone who made his Tesla a reality. I hope Martin can get back into the electric car biz. He deserves much success. D

  • Guyincognito Guyincognito on Jul 20, 2008

    Wow, congrats to TTAC for the NYT reference! This is actually one of the better NYT articles I've read in recent memory as well. Actual investigative journalism. Amazing! Even though he blindly cheerleads for the Volt, Nocera is right. There is a much better chance of GM developing a Volt by 2010 (cough) than Tesla developing an all electric, $60k, all electric, mass market vehicle, that is practicle and reliable, by 2010. This vehicle would already be durability testing and getting final grain on the dash by now rather than not existing in any form at all. I agree with David Dennis, Martin Eberhard had a solid business plan, to build the roadster with minimal changes to the AC Propulsion/Lotus designs. I also don't think Musk is actually trying to pull off a scam. I think he really believes he can do this. His ego is simply too huge to face reality or to even take into consideration that he is deviating from reality.

  • Healinginfluence Healinginfluence on Jul 21, 2008

    I don't think your post fairly describes the NYTimes story. It is more balanced than your post makes it seem. I had read the story before your post and had to click on the story thinking you must have meant another article. Tesla in my opinion may or may not have a long term future but it sure has changed the way I perceive electric cars.

  • Chuckgoolsbee Chuckgoolsbee on Jul 21, 2008

    Nobody is calling Tesla Motors a scam, they are just calling the promises and specs a sham. Big difference.