By on August 10, 2010

Recently, Nissan claimed that their Leaf will have a battery production cost of $375/kWh.  A what? Anyway, this was:

  1. Surprising as battery costs for an electric cars were forecast to be between $400 – $700/kWh.
  2. Meaningless, as long as people thing in lease rate /month and MPG (and conveniently forget it.

But Tesla’s founding father didn’t like that at all. reports that Elon Musk bitch slapped Nissan and their Leaf. In a call to analysts and investors he branded Nissan’s Leaf’s supporting systems more primitive that Tesla’s first prototype. Cat fight! He highlights that the Leaf uses air cooling for its battery while Tesla uses a liquid heating/cooling thermal system. This will put the Leaf’s battery temperature, as Musk puts it, “all over the place”. And as we all know, fluctuation in temperature isn’t good for a battery. Even GM stated that the Volt could suffer from similar problems. Tesla’s temperature system involves each battery module being equipped with liquid which can cool or heat the battery module, depending on the climate outside, to ensure battery stability.

Unfortunately, what Mr Musk didn’t mention was that the Tesla sells for a hell of a lot more than the Nissan Leaf. A lower price means a less sophisticated system. A bit like Ferrari criticizing Suzuki for their driving dynamics. Two brands in completely different price brackets. But, I understand Elon Musk’s agitation. Tesla lost $38.5m in the last financial quarter and its stock is trading less than the initial IPO price (stock price at time of writing is $19.6899). Maybe Toyota could lend it a few dollars? I mean, Nissan is the opponent here.

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18 Comments on “Tesla Founder Loses His Temper(ature)...”

  • avatar

    $375/kWh is the capital cost for the battery pack, not the operating cost.

    The operating cost — or at least the portion equivalent to ICE fuel costs — will likely be somewhere in the range of $0.05 to $0.15/kWh, depending on your local electricity rates.

    Now, how many kWh/100 km, or mpkWh do you get with a Leaf, Tesla or Volt?

  • avatar

    Tesla should just go bankrupt. The guys a loser and can’t run a company worth a damn. His cars are powered by 100s of lap top batteries for Christ sake! Nissans new laminate lithium ion batteries are not only much more compact but also much more efficient then Teslas.

  • avatar

    I still don’t understand the puerile attitude of this Musk guy. There’s only one working Model S prototype in existence and he’s sold fewer than 2,000 roadsters, and he thinks he has the right to berate manufacturers trying to bring EVs to a wider audience rather than just the Hollywood elite? Forgive the acronym, but Musk needs to STFU and finish his damn sedan.

  • avatar

    Cammy the Chevy Volt doesn’t have any performance issues in hot climates, it just gets shorter range if using heavy A/C and the car hasn’t been remotely pre-cooled while plugged into the grid. Just like all electric cars. The Volt has a very reliable liquid cooled and heated battery pack.

  • avatar

    Air cooling a lithium-ion device has it’s drawbacks. I have a cell phone case issue related to heat that I recently discovered.

    Apparently, when my phone was in the case, it wasn’t getting enough air for cooling and it would heat up to the point that charging was disabled. So, after several hours of driving I was surprised with a nearly dead phone battery that wouldn’t charge.

    I figured out what happened, pulled the phone out of the case, and held it in front of the a/c vent until it cooled down and magically started charging again.

    I wonder what the Leaf’s maximum charging temp will be? Temperature would effect the regen charging as well. What happens if it’s a hot night and you don’t have a/c in your garage. Next morning you could get a surprise when you try to drive to work.

  • avatar
    Charles T

    Are we still counting Musk as a co-founder? Some reports have him as just an early investor and not there from the start.

    • 0 avatar

      This interests me too.

      I’ve always considered Eberhard and Tarpenning to be the “founders” of Tesla Motors.

      Musk’s role in Tesla’s history seems more like that of Ray Kroc or Asa Candler.

  • avatar

    Musk has always been credited as a founder or even the founder of Paypal but was he? A few days ago I read on article from an old Technology Review magazine that I haad saved with a pretty in depth article about the start up of Paypal. There were two founders interviewed and talked about about in the article and neither one was Musk. Was he a ground floor Paypal founder or someone who came along later and somehow got credit or claimed credit for the work of others?

    He has seemed like a con man who moves from scam to scam looking for money and publicity. Is he that or a real businessman?

    • 0 avatar

      Musk is the real deal. He received a ton of money from the sale of PayPal.

      He also founded SpaceX, which after lots of work, just orbited its first space vehicle.

      Tesla sells real electric sports cars, with performance compatible with its $100k price tag. Watch the movie “Tucker” to see how hard it is to start a car company.

      Not the stuff of con artists.

      Outspoken entrepreneurs are always controversial, drawing charges of “con man” and the like. Elon Musk has accomplished more in half a life than most people could do in several.

    • 0 avatar


      He’s the real deal. As far as Nigerian hustlers go. Musk is nearly as reputable as Bricklin. Or that putz from ‘Better Place’.

      Paypal’s rep makes Hitler’s look good.

      The facts are easily Googlable – Musk has never done a damn thing that was profitable without an Entebbe-esque captive market. Ever.

      There’s a reason that Sand Hill Road types avoid Musk in droves.

      Tesla will never-ever-ever-ever-ever make money. Ever. It may survive on taxpayer largesse, but it will never net cash-flow in the free market. Ever. Ever.

      Have I mentioned “ever”?

      Tesla makes DeLorean look like a blue chip investment.

      I’m not bothering to post the links, I’ve done it before. If you want to see what the non-press-release-copying world thinks of Musk and his entire grifting existence, ’tis readily accessible.

    • 0 avatar

      @porshespeed: I can’t claim to have investigated Mr. Musk to the degree you have, and you’ll note in my other comments that I think his criticism of Nissan’s design is misplaced at several levels. Time will tell.

      But I do admire his energy and serendipitious good fortune. He also seems to burn some of those closest to him (such as Martin Eberhard, and his ex-wife, not to mention some employees).

      While I am no fan of government handouts, I think Tesla was a better credit risk than GM, for instance.

    • 0 avatar


      I will grant that Tesla/Musk is a better credit risk than GM.

      Until GM goes C7 and fires absolutely everyone, its a guaranteed goner…

      I just wish all to do some very quick and easy verification before standing behind Musk in any way.

  • avatar

    As I’ve said in other posts, it’s actually harder to engineer a cooling system that works with air than liquid. Nissan’s engineers aren’t stupid; they have more experience with this than Tesla does.

    The air-cooled approach may turn out to be very reliable and cost-effective.

    Musk is a genius, but he doesn’t have to criticize the Leaf. It’s not even a competitor, and neither is the Volt. In fact, the Leaf and Volt really won’t compete since they serve different needs. The Volt’s biggest worry should be the Cruze.

  • avatar

    Used to be a place for these folks in Formula 1 (or Group 7) now it’s electric cars, ugly sailboats and long balloon rides.

    I long for the days of Formula Coal.

  • avatar

    Musk sees the pr the Leaf is getting and wants the limelight back. Can’t blame him as it’s his company, but he comes off as a prima donna rather than a scrappy business person.

  • avatar

    Not sure how you go about saying that $19.69 is trading below the initial IPO price.

    TSLA opened trading / launched at $17, and people actually thought this was “high” at the time. I know the public had a shot at in the $17’s when it launched since I put in a limit order of $17.5 and bought it without doing anything fancy.

  • avatar

    “# Meaningless, as long as people thing in lease rate /month and MPG (and conveniently forget it.”

    Thing => think (?)

    That sentence derailed my train of thought as I was reading.

    That Musk is a smart man… but he needs to learn how to remove his foot from his mouth.

  • avatar

    Mr Musk’s protest sound of desperation. Is Tesla’s future doomed, sooner than expected?

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