By on December 11, 2008

TTAC’s Best and Brightest have spoken. TTAC has listened. You’ve asked for less negativity and more car passion non-death stuff (to use the technical term). So I’m cancelling the Tesla Death Watch. The Silicon Valley company has delivered its 100th Roadster– or so they say– and, well, how great is that? I still believe Tesla doesn’t have a hope in Hell of staying in business. But it will take a while for that to play out. We’ll continue to cover Tesla as and when the situation merits. But TTAC won’t be hovering over Elon Musk’s minions vulture-like, waiting for the latest insult or injury. I made my point: they’re a company fuelled by tree-hugging hype rather than solid engineering or accountability. Tesla Death Watch out.

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53 Comments on “Tesla Death Watch 41: Tesla Death Watch Ended...”

  • avatar

    Keep us posted if they keep asking for money. I would rather light it on fire than give it to them at this point – look at all the great small car companies that have burned in the last 15 years even though they had fewer problems.

  • avatar

    Wha-a-a-t? If you want vapid keyboard droolings about what it’s like to drive an Accord for a year, or how great BMWs are, read Inside Line. TTAC has the market cornered on the industry’s inner workings; please keep it that way.

  • avatar

    I made my point: they’re a company fuelled by tree-hugging hype rather than solid engineering or accountability.


  • avatar

    I don’t care about Tesla one way or another.

  • avatar
    Robert Frankfurter

    Dont overdo it Robert!

    To kill the incredible useful “Tesla Death Watch” is plain overkill.

    I found it quite useful to compare the Birth / Death watch.
    Both had and and have their merits – both where right on the money, given that the company is genetically always half alive / half dead.
    One could easily reading both sides of the mirror, build his own opinion.

    It gave you the journalistic opportunity to light the product from opposite angles.
    It was useful.

    Sorry thats gone now – really.

    I’m no tree-hugger but interested in any real new development / technology bringing us forward.
    Might it be even technically so mediocre as a Tesla, camouflaged by extreme media-hype smokescreen by the most un-sympatico musk-smelling (like cold shit) CEO playing guy south of Novosibirsk.

  • avatar
    tesla deathwatcher

    As my name suggests, the Tesla Death Watch is what brought me to TTAC. Oh well, farewell and good luck.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Not to worry, some other venture such as (but not necessarily) Project Better Place + Nissan/Renault is going to show Tesla Motors how it’s done.

  • avatar

    Soon that company besmirching the name of one of the 20th century’s most important inventors, will be as dead as he is.

    The difference will be that the man accomplished much, and left us with mysteries researchers are still exploring.

    The company will just leave a bunch of empty pockets and a few cobbled-up cars.

    Sorry shiny happy people, I enjoy watching the con artists of the world get what they have coming.

    Acknowledging and thoroughly examining the problems allows for a snowball’s chance in Qatar that they don’t keep happening.

  • avatar

    Don’t get all “Kumbaya” on us now…

    Your site, your call.


  • avatar

    Good on you Robert ,
    I was getting a little vindictive.
    Lets face it its pretty beautiful to look at , the Lotus
    chassis is one of the best , and 200 +miles from one
    charge is impressive . The people I know here in europe
    who have driven it , were all blown away by the
    performance !
    Maybe TTAC could conduct a road test , and provide
    a objective assessment !

  • avatar

    Solid engineering and accountabilty !

    You mean such as exhibited by GM , Chrysler and Ford !

  • avatar

    Tesla’s financial situation is as stable at the Detroit Three’s are-that is to say, not very. If you continue to do Death Watches on Detroit, one for Telsa seems to be appropiate as well.

    Admittedly, they seem to be in the “Ford” category as opposed to the “GM/Chrysler” category.

  • avatar

    I think it’s possible to write about any Tesla news, positive or negative, under a quippy headline, no? Without the DW? While we wake?

    And if you’re longing for some up news about Elon, here he is at the Edge master class A Short Course on Behavioral Economics. With a couple of smart eggs.

  • avatar

    i dont think anyone was suggesting to kill off the deathwatch. but just give us the good stuff.

    – New marketing director…who cares
    – Canceling new model….big deal

  • avatar

    They killed the idea of building a sedan, they are actively seeking to sell their technology to other companies, and they started out very conservatively, using a proven platform for the chassis so that they could focus on what they hope will be their core competency, electric automotive power storage and drivetrains.

    They seem to be avoiding all of the mistakes that the big-3 would have made.

    They are going to be a niche player, but they could be a viable one.

    Also, no intermediate shaft (IMS) failures have been reported yet.

  • avatar

    RF, this occasional reader is happy to see the turn toward the light. More car passion will bring me back more frequently.

  • avatar

    Damn that sucks I liked the Tesla Death Watches. When did they deliver 100 cars I thought they were up to something like 30.

    I couldn’t agree more with what porschespeed wrote. So much so that I named my kid after Tesla, hate the electric car scam that sullies his name.

    Robert don’t do like the bone headed automakers(Subaru) and shun your core audience that helped you grow by making changes going after the masses. The Deathwatches and straight shooting no matter how hard to hear is what brought me here years ago.

  • avatar

    someone tell me where I can go for MORE automotive negativity? I actually got some work done today…don’t want that to happen again…

  • avatar

    Maybe you could just have one “Death Watch” and one “Birth Watch” column, where you can keep track of all of them.
    When a brand kicks it, they get the dreaded strikethrough: Oldsmobile
    You can flesh out the list with Volvo, Saab, Isuzu, etc…
    Oh yeah, while you are at it, add a “Baywatch” column, too!

  • avatar

    There is plenty of car passion here. The death watch is news, timely, pertinent and important. No reason to avoid it sad though it all may be.

  • avatar

    The Tesla Death Watch is the type of high quality journalism that totally lacks in mainstream media. Tesla isn’t going anywhere. This is the truth. Continue to be the objective, high quality “BBC of car reporting” with this website, and huge amounts of web traffic follow.

  • avatar

    Good Idea!
    since only the extremely rich could buy one!
    And,now with gas a $1.50 a gallon….
    Who cares!
    Most people cant even afford a Prirus….(whatever its called)
    I would love to see the face on an owner of one of these cars watching the oil market now……
    Novelty is just that… a fad!
    Maybe now is the time for a …
    $100,000 mood ring…
    pet rock….

  • avatar

    Good call. Unlike the Detroit watches, the Tesla Death Watch was “inside baseball” in the extreme. I know it was because of the infuriating hype surrounding its product, but for the uninitiated or disinterested it just seemed like TTAC was beating up on a tiny little Panoz-type carmaker. The TDW gave Tesla a higher profile than it deserved. The watch was in itself “hyping” Tesla. Isn’t it [some word signifying a greater intellectual tension than a mere asinine non sequitur]?

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Strippo: Ba-zing!

  • avatar

    Yeah, I don’t see all that many calling for you to end this.

    I also see the Tesla as probably most of what it claims. But the company doesn’t appear likely to stay around or make a profit on its business. The car is a good design and one of the first to aim at a performance electric. A good idea. Bottom line seems such a car will be very expensive until lithium batteries become much cheaper.

    I would love to won one of those cars, but cannot pony up the $100k plus.

    So Tesla isn’t a complete scam like the Moeller flying car. I am amazed Moeller is still milking his scheme for so long. Tesla makes at least a few of the real car. They just don’t have a viable chance of surviving as a manufacturer I don’t think. And the current people running the company certainly don’t help.

    Still a continued Deathwatch is very warranted. Or maybe you can convert it to a resurrection watch or Phoenix list or some such.

    You might want to save that for the big three though if they somehow pull of a turn around from the current near death experience.

  • avatar

    I never cared much about the Tesla in that it’s just a rich kid’s toy without any real meaning or value.

    The Tesla simply takes a very nice and light Lotus (is that redundant?) and uses the inherent torque of electric motors to accelerate quickly. Wiring a zillion little batteries together is a Rube Goldberg solution if there ever was one.

    Tree hugging hype? Indeed. The impact of the Tesla on the environment is about the same as if I choose to skip my traditional bean-burrito-and-beer Saturday supper.

    Range? Autoweek got 93 miles. Sure, maybe you can go farther if you baby it, but it’s supposed to be a sports car, remember?

  • avatar

    How about a Gordon Murray widget birthwatch? That guy’s creations are worthy of good journalistic updates.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure dropping the Tesla version of the DW is the right thing to do. I know people have a problem with “quippiness” or “cleverness” related to the DW titling, but there are probably only about 100 people who care about Tesla one way or another. Personally, I find the Tesla DW an interesting column, and if (when) Tesla goes down in electrified flames I don’t think the world will even notice (except those fools who paid deposits).

    Personally, I find the Big 2.8 DW/SW series far more depressing as it directly affects my bottom line. However, as an objective person, I realize that sometimes the truth hurts and taking the Big 2.8 to task for their blatant and repetitive mistakes is the right thing to do.

  • avatar

    I think reporting on Tesla is valuable. Maybe not as an official deathwatch, maybe not quite as snarky, and maybe not as much. But certainly any major developments are well worth hearing about.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    “Death Watch” attitude is what makes this place!

    I hope y’all keep the attitude even if you lose the headline.

    You’re welcome to start a “Matthew Sullivan Death Watch” in its place. I think (hope) you should be able to milk that for another 30-40 years.

  • avatar

    Maybe you could now start a Diesel death watch? Go on, I KNOW you’d like to.

  • avatar

    They got to him. Its too late now, just let it go all of you. This asset is finished but the battle isn’t over. A moment of silence for the Frogger it will not be pretty watching TTAC succumb to the sycophants and apologists but it always happens eventually.

    “Blessed are the meak for they will inherit the earth.” I for one certainly hope not.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    oldyak :

    And,now with gas a $1.50 a gallon….
    Who cares

    Don’t worry. It’ll be $3.00/gallon by next summer and will keep going up after that.

  • avatar

    Boo! Come on, they’ve got but a few mil in the bank, a slew of orders they ain’t got the money to fill, and a new product dead before it even started (but after a large investment and a lawsuit), they’re near as death as any of the not so big 3.

  • avatar

    Why? Oh well, good thing there are 20 other blogs to choose from. Frankly, this was your best feature. This is a car-lovers site, and anything with a battery that is used for anything other than starting a (real) vehicle is a travesty and a fraud. It’s a golfcart, and I can drive those for free all day at my club. Will you at least report when they finally do die a horrible death? Please?

  • avatar

    I saw a Tesla placed in a television program earlier this week. There was a close-up of the rear of the car focusing on the name, then it quietly sped off screen. Hot looking car and eventually (electric propulsion) will be the norm. Tesla may be ahead of it’s time.

  • avatar

    Considering there’s other players in this market now, Tesla Motors is not a star player it started out as.

    Let’s all yawn and move on. What’s new with Morgan these days?

  • avatar

    Holy shit. Excuse my bluntness, but with the general dearth of reading comprehension skills on display in this thread, it is no bloody wonder that the bash TTAC thread grew so quickly.

    People, read the fucking article. RF plainly states that he will continue to highlight news from Tesla “if and when the situation merits” so rest assured that should evidence of Tesla’s continued dance with the inevitability of its doom come to light, you will read about it here.

    All he is doing is dropping the title and the category from new posts. Which is a good thing.

    Please excuse my language, but few things piss me off like people who will jump all over someone for writing something that they couldn’t be bothered to understand.

  • avatar

    Meh, the whole ‘Death Watch’ title is a little dramatic, especially for a company like Tesla which may or may not die.

    Keep reporting on Tesla good or bad news with different and pithier headlines.

  • avatar

    I made my point: they’re a company fuelled by tree-hugging hype rather than solid engineering or accountability.

    The engineering’s fine. You’re spot on about the accountability and management, though.

    RF — Maybe calling it a Death Watch is jumping the gun, but the negativity is definitely called for when people throw around massive sums of money so recklessly. But good call.

  • avatar

    Meh, the whole ‘Death Watch’ title is a little dramatic, especially for a company like Tesla which may or may not die.

    Maybe calling it a Death Watch is jumping the gun,…

    At the risk of debating the likelyhood the sun will like rise tomorrow, please, please tell me the scenario in which Tesla Motors survives.

    Just survives, mind you. Not ‘is profitable’ or ‘thrives’ producing massive ROI for the chumps, err, investors.

    Just do the simple math of amount invested, profit per car and then let me know how many $100K low margin rebadged Lotii need to be sold. Just to get back to zero.

    They have no cutting edge licensable tech so that avenue is closed too.

    Tesla is in the gas chamber chair right next to GM. John Wayne Gacy had a better chance of hearing good news on the phone.

    Send in the clowns.

  • avatar

    Tesla is getting a quarter billion in aid from the State of California to build a new factory.

    All of the comments on Tesla miss the point. The roadster is just to bring in revenue and get the company going. The WhiteStar sedan, built at a new factory in San Jose on a newly designed proprietary chassis in 2012 was to be the big car, at $60k and competing with BMW, followed by the Blue Star, a Prius competitor.

    It also misses the point on Tesla technology. Tesla’s technology is primarily software. THis will be more valuable as battery technology improves along the projected cost curve. Probably by 20-30% a year.

  • avatar

    Good for you, Mr. Farago. I got a laugh out of the first Tesla deathwatch, thinking it was a bit tongue-in-cheek since I expected the deathwatch to be reserved for the auto industry’s major players. By number 40 though, the joke has gotten a bit stale. Though I am confident your site will continue its “watch” on Tesla, without the immediate “axe to grind,” so to speak.

    Thanks for listening to your readers and keep up the good work!

  • avatar

    Is it time to start a Death Watch Death Watch?

  • avatar

    As many of you probably remember, I have defended Tesla as a company with great ideas, even if their management has seemed problematic.

    I would like to see the Tesla Death Watch live, so I could still easily find all the Tesla stories. If you want to cut down the snark a bit, why not merge the Birth and Death watch into a single Tesla Watch category?

    I don’t think there’s any question that Tesla has performed its mission in making the electric car more interesting to all of us, and reassuring us that driving fun will not die with the internal combustion engine.

    I for one would like to see what Tesla does with whatever share of the bailout money it receives. At least it has been making a good faith effort at doing what the Big Three have not.

    So I hope you continue covering Tesla at the same level of intensity – even though I still support the company and think it’s capable of doing great things.


  • avatar

    Any company that sells only a 100 products does not deserve any kind of “watch”. Tesla is not a viable company, but resembles more of an advanced university research project.
    I don’t know what Franz von Holzhausen (mazda’s talented US design chief) was thinking when he left Mazda to work for Tesla.

  • avatar

    All of the comments on Tesla miss the point. The roadster is just to bring in revenue and get the company going. The WhiteStar sedan, built at a new factory in San Jose on a newly designed proprietary chassis in 2012 was to be the big car, at $60k and competing with BMW, followed by the Blue Star, a Prius competitor.

    It also misses the point on Tesla technology. Tesla’s technology is primarily software. THis will be more valuable as battery technology improves along the projected cost curve. Probably by 20-30% a year.

    No, I think some of us get the point.

    The roadster brings in no revenue – 100 cars at $100K. Most of which goes right back out of the checkbook for the body, motor, and batteries.

    Whitestar. Not gonna happen. They can’t even get roadster production going.

    Software? Really? Show me one Tesla patent that’s worth licensing. Don’t see Toyota or Honda lining up. They are already light-years ahead of Tesla. Who are the potential licensees? Beyond that, if you know anything about the auto industry, manufacturers are loathe to license anything from anyone. Ever. Even if it is the most cost-effective solution set.

    More importantly, once again, just add up the numbers and the burn rate. Then figure out how much they have to sell just to get back to zero.

    I was in Silicon Valley during the ‘just throw money’ days. Tesla has no more viable business plan than dozens of kids who blew through tens/hundreds of millions back then.

  • avatar

    I joined this site when I found the death watch, I will miss it. I do appreciate what Tesla has been able to accomplish which is to get everyone thinking about electric cars after they had been pronounced dead. That is a positive contribution even if they only ever do deliver a couple hundred roadsters. Now BMW, Daimler, Mitsubishi, and Renault Nissan, are making fully electric models. Would this have happened without Tesla? Maybe not as soon. Tesla fueled hype made the major auto manufacturers look at producing EVs and helped change the image of electrics being golf carts. I can respect them for that.

  • avatar

    long time reader, first time posting –

    I enjoy the death watch. You call it negativity, I call it news. I will miss the Death Watch, I hope the others stay.

  • avatar

    As a longtime reader of TTAC (four years now), let me be clear: It is the Death Watches that made TTAC.
    Ignore the handful of recent naysayers, stick with what made TTAC what it is today. They are the only reason I visit, I can read vapid keyboard drooling regarding driving an Accord for a year or similar pretty much anywhere.
    As with the others, I will miss this Death Watch.

  • avatar

    Boy, if this site were getting too negative, I would have started using smiley-face emoticons months ago! (:wink:)

    When did TTAC start wetting a finger and sticking it up in the air to see which way the wind was blowing? (:surprised look/mouth open:)

    I started coming here for the GM Deathwatch articles…around #60 or so. Robert was the only one telling the truth, for Christ’s sake! (:true-dat, hands on hips:)

    Seeing some of the auto boneyard/junkyard photos was a little bit of a downer, but negativity? No way. Reality, yes; negativity, no. (:finger_wag/shame on buff rags:)

    You certainly didn’t stop writing the GM/DW or F/DW or C/SW articles to satisfy anybody’s delicate sensitivities; why get squeamish now? (:Confused smiley/WTF?:)

    Sometimes these things take time to come about; saying the truth is never the wrong thing to do, even if it takes a long time for the end-result to become apparent to the common man or woman.

    I didn’t read most of the Tesla Death Watch articles, but only because of time constraints and because Tesla wasn’t yet a major market player. But that does NOT mean that the TDW’s shouldn’t have been written, nor that they were negative.

    I say killing off the TDW was a mistake, but I must have missed that poll question. It’s your site, though. I just hope it’s the first AND LAST content decision you leave up to the readership. At least until 2011. (:arms crossed in front; So there!:)

    Oooh, but taking my advice would be like turning a content decision over to me, part of the readership…wouldn’t it? Okay, maybe I don’t want that responsibility. (:throwing_hands_up!:)

  • avatar

    Let’s see. One one hand we have several companies that make millions of cars each year and we have a death watch. On the other hand, we have a company that hasn’t delivered on anything except the basic claim to hand-build a few cars. No production, non-conformance to claimed specs, hype and lying as the main product and a company that has no possible chance of surviving even if they could possibly do what they claimed.

    Now you’re proposing to drop the death watch?

    WTF are you guys smoking?

    This is the only place we can get “car guys”-oriented info on the company instead of the screaming green spew that other news outlets deliver. If you discontinue the Death Watch, How the hell are we going to get any information that is believable?

    You REALLY need to re-think this one.


  • avatar

    Are you guys going to ever do a performance verification on Jason Calacanis’ roadster? I’ve been waiting for that ever since that post a few weeks ago.

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