By on November 12, 2010
We don’t yet have understanding and expertise when it comes to mass production or even limited mass production. There is so much to learn, I don’t know quite where to start.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has finally figured out that making lots of cars is a tough business to get into. Humbling himself before Toyota and Automotive News [sub] Musk presented Akio Toyoda with a red Roadster 2.5, and admitted he needed help. And why not? It isn’t hard to see that without Toyota, all of Musk’s future plans (20k Model S units per year by 2013… then 200k annual production for the company’s next model) are as good as vapor. Which is funny, because Musk hasn’t always been quite this humble. In fact, at the height of the Auto Bailout, Musk told Wired
When the mess gets sorted out, I’d like to have a conversation with whoever’s in charge at the time — the car czar or whoever — and say “I’d like to run your plants, if you don’t mind”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

32 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: Humbled Before The Factory Edition...”

  • avatar

    Musk has always been a con man.

  • avatar

    “he said while channeling Jac Nasser………”

  • avatar

    Joyful adolescents, having had some experiences… (not so joyful anymore).

  • avatar

    Can’t blame him for using baseless bravado to keep his company going – look at how much mileage Ford got out of the perception of being healthy during the worst of times.

  • avatar

    There’s a big difference between making something that works, and making something that works year after year in the snow or rain, after being bounced around on rough roads, or neglected by an owner who thinks a car that costs this much shouldn’t need any maintenance.
    There’s also a big difference between making one or a hundred of something, and making 100,000 somethings.
    The guy has been gloating about this for a long time.

  • avatar

    What do you mean? Tesla has built and sold over 1,000 cars. They are an established carmaker, able to compete with the big boys.
    Besides, Steve Rattner was able to figure out how to save GM and Chrysler in a few months. He even made one day trip to Detroit.
    If Rattner could do it, what is Musk worried about?

    • 0 avatar

      …no, they haven’t:  they’ve repackaged and marketed 1000 cars built by lotus and ac propulsion…

      …tesla has yet build anything…

    • 0 avatar

      Surely you jest?
      They are not even halfway there, repowering, and tweaking a Lotus into something you call your own, does not make you an automaker.

    • 0 avatar

      M and LX:
      No, it’s not just a lotus with a battery put in it.  But you’ve had enough time to research this and have chosen not to.
      To quote a great man: “If it’s so easy, why don’t you do it?”

    • 0 avatar

      Did you ever compare a Tesla Roadster to a Lotus Elise? I have. They are the same car.
      And I have converted a gasoline car to an electric car. It is pretty easy. Does mine perform as well as a Roadster? No, but it costs a lot less.
      The only difference is in price, not technology. What did Tesla invent or develop? Nothing. They are like Dell with its computers. Someone else does the work. They do the marketing.

  • avatar

    Running a manufacturing plant (and engineering the product) is much more complex than clicking on a dialog box or plugging in a new SIMM.  Welcome to the real world of large, high-rate manufacturing, Mr. Musk.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Some people think that just because starting PayPal was relatively easy, everything must be!

    • 0 avatar

      Elon Musk didn’t quite start PayPal.  Max Levchin was the brain behind PayPal, his company bought Musk’s company.  PayPal also wasn’t easy.  The bulk of its complexity was in fraud detection that involved AI and heavy data mining, which Max Levchin wrote.  None of their competitor had their technical chop, so they all went bankrupt because fraud ate them alive.

      Musk is not stupid either.  He is better known for SpaceX, which launched the first private spacecrafts into orbit, has contracts to supply the ISS, and plans to send human.  He studied physics, so it’s not surprising that he’s lost when it comes to manufacturing.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    What a bad picture.  I’ve seen more intelligent looks in families where the tree doesn’t fork.

  • avatar

    Remember Malcolm Bricklin?

  • avatar

    manage a car plant must have a lot of teething problems, changing simms and upgrading software looks so much simpler.

  • avatar

    It’s always upset me that this man (and his company) have never been really exposed by the mainstream media.  From everything I’ve been able to gather, tesla is essentially vaporware run by a Mark Cuban wannabe.
    These brats simply don’t understand that they won the lottery, they’re success is essentially built on a fluke. They’re not brilliant business Titans, most of them wouldn’t even be able to hold down a real job. 

    If manufacturing electric cars for the masses were easy, every automaker would be doing it.  It’s not some grand conspiracy, and they’re not smarter than everyone else.

    • 0 avatar

      How can it be vaporware if it exists?  He makes and sells real things – I saw and touched one – stunning.
      So how is it vaporware?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s vaporware because Tesla has never built a car.
      Where is the Tesla factory? Where is the Tesla labor force? It’s all up in the cloud. It’s vaporware.
      Sure, Tesla was going to build a factory in New Mexico. Then in San Jose. Now they are going to use the NUMMI factory to build their cars.
      Right. Call me back when Tesla actually builds a car. Or develops some technology. Or does anything other than spend money from gullible investors and a gullible government.
      The only one making real money out of the Tesla debacle is Elon Musk. On paper, at least, he’s a billionaire. He lives like a king.
      And what did he do to deserve that? Not anything that I can see. Other than, as people have said here, practice the art of the con.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      When you think about it, nobody every really builds a car. Lotus uses Toyota engines. Dodge uses Cummins diesel engines in its trucks. Are they legit in your eyes? If you want to go further, GM and Toyota don’t own the steel foundries that supply them, which in turn don’t own the iron and coal mines that supply them. Where do you draw the line?
      It’s just a matter of degree. Right now, Tesla is more of a final assembler, which is just fine considering they’re a boutique manufacturer. It remains to be seen if they can move more of the manufacturing chain in-house as they scale up.
      As for intellectual property rights, most inventions and innovations are evolutionary in nature. They’re simply a stair-step forward over what came before, or a composite of previous work. Henry Ford didn’t invent the combustion engine, the transmission, the wheel, or even the car, for that matter, but he put it all together in a way no one did before. Same with Tesla and electric cars.
      BTW, although I’m rooting for Tesla, I don’t regard myself as a fanboy. They still have some huge hoops to jump through to be successful, and I have my doubts as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Good points. That’s all true. It is a matter of degree.
      Certainly in carmaking the trend is for carmakers to make less and less of their cars. Magna even builds some cars for some of the carmakers, and just puts their label on.
      But Tesla claims to be a carmaker. They are not. They seem like so many of the dotcoms. Promising so much, delivering so little.

  • avatar

    Not only do you have to make 100,000 cars, you have to sell them.  You have to make spare parts, and teach people how to repair them when they break. You also have to be able to recall them when they don’t stop when suddenly accellerate or don’t stop when they’re supposed to.

  • avatar

    Musk is just a freakish applause-seeking egomaniac (Like any Hollywood dolt) that is pushed into the media for idiot massman consumption reasons…He is not a real talented Engineer which is why he is in San Jose I reckon. I am sure Toyota was forced into the relationship with Tesla by the US Government as a condition to get off Toyota’s back. The goof can’t figure this out…Why not? It really is just simple math.

    Stick to PayPal-type crap, Musk!

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      I am sure Toyota was forced into the relationship with Tesla by the US Government as a condition to get off Toyota’s back.
      It’s more likely Toyota willingly entered into the relationship to bolster its image in the California market after closing its Fremont plant.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve got a different take (even though I’m not a Toyota fan). I think Toyota now owns or controls the only two electric vehicle nameplates with any public traction, Prius and Tesla. I highly doubt that Toyota needed access to Tesla’s patents (?) or supplier agreements, it’s all about reigning in that brand name and getting it in house down the road.
      I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see “Tesla powered”  Scions or Toyotas in the near future, or even it’s establishment as a whole brand to sell Prius and electric drive Toyotas. They could even keep selling the Lotus as a halo car, as Toyota has an (apparently good) relationship with that company already, and hardly need feel threatened.

    • 0 avatar

      @Aaron:  what? You wake up saying,”Damned that Musk – damn him to hell.”?  That’s kind of weird.
      Regarding patents: The beauty of the Tesla is the battery management – these patents would be well worth having because it enable the repurposing of off the shelf parts  ( laptop batteries)  .  That’s worth billions in R&D savings.
      Also toyota gets to  re-release an electric highlander – which I guess was a cult item at one time.
      Another mutual benefit is that tesla will be releasing its sedan which looks to be a beauty  – not a bad thing to be associated with for toyota.   On Tesla’s end – they may be able to compete when Audi etc. enter the EV fray.

    • 0 avatar

      Regarding patents: The beauty of the Tesla is the battery management – these patents would be well worth having because it enable the repurposing of off the shelf parts  ( laptop batteries).  That’s worth billions in R&D savings.

      Tesla’s battery pack patents are next to worthless. Look at the “inventors.” None of them has any real knowledge of batteries. If they did, one of those inventors, Martin Eberhard, now works for Volkswagen.

      Tesla’s battery packs have yet to find a customer outside Tesla. Now they never will.

  • avatar

    This article got me to wondering …

    It is well known that (often) “Pride goeth before the fall”, so, is there a potential corrolary “humility goeth before the upswing”?

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      A Proverbs quote: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

      From the photo, I am reminded of this Othello line:

      “Thou dolt, you’re as ignorant as dirt.”

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • 28-Cars-Later: Did you happen to be spending some time in an alternate universe then? I do recall a BOHICA spike but...
  • 28-Cars-Later: “My son on the other hand with his pig on fuel old Cherokee and his old F150’s on 1/2 the wages...
  • MRF 95 T-Bird: Available in a few variants.
  • ToolGuy: Would it go viral?
  • Lou_BC: Yup. Inflation. I ran the 1990 F250 I owned through an inflation calculator and it was more expensive than a...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber