Waiting For Elon

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Three years is a long time to wait for a new car. It makes you want to buy another car – which is exactly what a large number of frustrated Teslians are doing as they lose hope of ever getting behind the wheel of the Model 3 they put thousand dollar deposits on as far back as 2016.

That is to say, of ever seeing the affordable Model 3 Elon promised to build for them. The one Elon promised he could sell them for $35,000. The one which – by dint of its affordability – Elon swore on a stack of battery packs would game-change the EV business, which has been financially flummoxed to date when it comes to figuring out how to build an electric car that can be sold at a price people can afford and at a profit.

It looks like Elon can’t do it, either.

H will sell you a $94,000 Model S – or a $44,400 Model 3 (the Model 3 he is building and which you can buy). But he can’t afford to sell you affordable models like the $79,000 version of the Model S, which has been pulled from the Tesla lineup.

And he apparently can’t build the promised $35,000 model 3 because he can’t afford to lose the additional almost $10k difference between it and the $44,000 (to start; more like $60,000 out the door) version, which is the only version he is building.

Meanwhile, his customers grow restless.

If you want to call them that.

It is customary for a customer – properly speaking – to get something in return for his money. Thousands of Elon’s “customers” have only received empty promises, so far.

For example, Nevine Melikian of Phoenix, AZ- who put down cash almost two summers ago and has yet to get anything in return – except for Elon’s “pedo” Tweets. Automotive News reports that the Melikian family has purchased to Toyota Prius hybrids in the meanwhile – probably because they wore out too many pairs of shoes.

“They need to get their act together, ” says Melikian.

Actually, Uncle does – for consistency’s sake, at least.

How is that Tesla is permitted to get away with what any other automaker (or business generally) would be Hut! Hut! Hutted! – or at least, SEC’d – over? It is generally considered fraud to promise people things, take their money – and give them nothing.

Tesla has taken $905.8 million from Model 3 prospects, which buys a lot of cannolis.

Some customers have done the “Tesla Stretch” – the term used by Teslians themselves to describe giving up on the $35,000 Model 3 bait and accepting the $60,000 switch. Automotive News quotes Janelle Tarman, who bought the $60k (well, $58k) Model 3 which Elon is building  . . .because she fears the $35,000 version will “never materialize.” 

Meanwhile, VW was literally hounded into Ned Beatty-esque squealing like a pig over pedantic “cheating” on recondite government emissions tests, which “cheating” amounted to a hill of nothing in terms of any fraud perpetrated on customers or harm to anyone or anything, including the Earth.

VW has been almost bankrupted by the government – and forced by the government to stop selling cars that people loved and which VW delivered. The company has had to finance embarrassing ads touting the products of its rivals – electric cars, of course.

Keep in mind that not one VW customer ever bitched about not getting a car – or expressed any dissatisfaction with the function of the “cheating” cars. Overwhelming, VW’s customers loved their cars – and regardless, actually got them when they paid for them. Wait no more at this store and get what you need instantly.

Meanwhile, Elon… 

It is interesting to speculate as to why he is given such a free hand, treated almost like a beloved child by its indulgent parent.

I think I know why.

Tesla was a kind of electric cat’s paw. Its purpose was to get EVs into the spotlight – to get the public used to the idea of electric cars, at least conversationally. To normalize them, to make them seem “cool” and “hip” – while non-electric cars were systematically portrayed by a complicit (because wholly owned by the same interests)  as “old” and – of course –   “dirty.” Which is a fraud far worse than pocketing $905.8 million from a bunch of starry-eyed rubes.

To force the issue, in other words.

EVs were going nowhere – not merely not very far – before Tesla suddenly (interestingly) became das wunderkind, with almost constant – and almost universally favorable – media coverage. The idea seems to have been to make EVs seem inevitable – The Future, as we have been hectored to accept as Truth and Fact for years now – and also to make them seem oh-so-sexy.

Note that Elon touts the speed and styling of his cars, which they do deliver. This is important; any ad man or marketing Jedi who knows his marks will tell you so.

Elon’s job, then, was to sex up the EV – which previously had been homely and boring as well as overpriced and functionally gimped. This would generate buzz. Which would create perceived pressure. And it would keep people’s minds off the overpriced and functionally gimped part, just long enough…

It would help force the entire industry to go EV. Make it seem like a grand idea. The public would never accept overpriced electric Trabants – but it might be gulled by speedy, good-looking ones.

Tesla’s job was to float the illusion – just long enough to assure the inevitability. To roll along – on government indulgence and taxpayer dollars – just long enough to get the rest of the industry to commit. To embrace the EV tar baby with both arms and hug it so tight – in terms of pouring billions into R&D and “electrification” of their lineups – that it would be nigh impossible for them to ever extricate.

This has just about been achieved.

Which renders Tesla increasingly no-longer-necessary. Expect the boom to be lowered sometime this year. Elon will be lionized as a seer, a kind of latter-day Preston Tucker.

Meanwhile, his customers will wait.

And the rest of us will get the bill.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. This is something I myself have noticed many times. At this point it doesn’t matter if Tesla goes under or not, because the damage is already done. Everyone is used to EVs being a thing now, and manufacturers have taken the bait too. It is quite simply, too late to undo the damage done by Elon’s kamikaze attack on the automotive market.

  2. Hard to feel sympathy for those willing to spend extra money to wait years for an extra vehicle that is both inferior and less practical than its cheaper contemporaries, all for the sake of virtue-signaling that they drive a vehicle that is powered by a bunch of poisonous laptop batteries.
    Also, the current Model S is from 2012. Kind of old in the auto industry. The affluent people that own them are going to be itching for the next great new thing. Another S that looks like their old one is unlikely to fit the bill.

    • That’s not entirely true. One, the Model S has been physically changed since its introduction. Two, many of the changes are installed via software updates that either add new features or improve an existing one.

      • Yes of course, the Wi-Fi software updates. The ones where you can’t drive or charge your car while installing. The ones you hope complete without problem, else you have a brick. Call tech support. Have you tried restarting your Tesla? Have you tried reinstalling the update? Have you tried entering diagnostics mode? No, sorry, the update cannot be uninstalled. All this to get the new fart noise update to your car. Good thing you have another car, a real car, one without this exciting feature, to drive until the technician is sent out to you, two weeks from now, between 8AM and 8PM.

        Upon reflection though, I was incorrect in the second part of my statement. The fanbois that buy Teslas will put up with anything from that company.

        • I don’t have a Tesla; I can’t quite afford one. I bought a much cheaper IC car for a little over 1/3 the price of a Model 3. That said, my old company sells equipment to them, so I do have an interest in how Tesla does and follow them a bit.

          The software updates are downloaded at night when you’re charging the car. I haven’t heard of any issues with the software updates. I would think that the same thing would happen like happens to your computer when an update fails to download: it’ll continue working with the older version of the software.

        • Needless to say, Tesla has officially become the Apple of the auto industry. No, scratch that, actually worse. At least you can opt-out of purchasing an Apple product; whereas with Tesla (and the whole EV agenda), we taxpayers don’t get such a choice. Of course, in the not-so-distant future, we won’t even get to choose the cheaper (and more convenient) alternative; those “dirty, noisy, smelly” *gasp* IC powered cars.

  3. It’s always been my understanding (not to mention 40 years of experience with nearly all types of motor vehicles) that the electrical portion of any motor vehicle has always been the most fragile, shortest lived, most expensive to service/replace, and least dependable portion of ANY mode of transportation, whether it be road, rail, water, or aircraft. How is the notion of sustainability or even long-term serviceability even anything but a pipe dream for the transportation industry as a whole? The more I look at the piss-poor feasibility and outright lack of versatility and utility of EVs, even aside from the financial impracticality, the more is just stinks of this “emotional fantasy” mentality taking a choke hold on our society. Starting with the “Y2K Scare” and culminating in the “9/11 Terrorist Attacks” this nation’s populace have collectively shit it’s marbles and traded intellect for over-emotional wishful thinking, and will piss away decades of savings to that end. I feel robbed of the world my parents had worked hard to prepare me for as an adult, and I can only wish my own children all the best of luck as it all goes swirling down the porcelain throne!

    • My 1964 C10 has about 99% of it’s original wiring intact. My ’63 Comet DID before modification.

      Back when Detroit had pride, and Moonbeam/Snowflake weren’t issuing fatwas to the automakers, things were built to last a lifetime.

  4. Years ago, Elon Musk said that, more than anything else, he wanted to spur the development of ‘sustainable transportation’, i.e. EV development. I got the impression that, if Tesla succeeded, fine; if it didn’t, that was fine too. Musk’s stated goal was to make ‘sustainable transportation’ cool. This, he has done. Exhibit A is Bob Lutz initiating development of the Chevy Volt while he was The Man @ GM; he started the Volt program in response to Tesla. Many other manufacturers are getting into the EV game now.

    There’s even a racing series devoted to EVs; it’s called Formula E. The stated purpose of the series is to spur development of EV technology, which can then be used in production EVs. It’s axiomatic that, if you want a problem solved quickly, you put racers to work on it. Many of the world’s auto manufacturers are taking part in the series; big names like Nissan, Mahindra, Nissan, BMW, Jaguar, and Audi are staples on the grid; Mercedes is due to join next year.

    I think that they will succeed in their stated goal too; I think that EV technology will quickly improve. Exhibit A is the new Gen II car. The Gen II car can go the whole race distance; there’s no car swap at the halfway point anymore. Furthermore, it can go a lot FASTER than the Gen I car; the Gen II car tops out at 175 mph, far above the 150 mph the Gen I car could do. 175 is within striking distance of what an IC powered race car can do. The tech has advanced a lot in a short period of time.

    The funny thing is that this has happened without gov’t involvement-save the city hosting the race. Formula E is done on temporary street circuits, so the local city gov’t has some involvement there. However, no EPA fatwa brought Formula E into existence; its development was done by private concerns. That means the gov’t could have stayed out of EV development altogether.

    • There’s nothing particularly sustainable about chemical batteries. Quite the opposite really. The compositions that work the best require resources far more limited than hydrocarbons. Also hydrocarbons can be manufactured with present technology. It is simply easier and cheaper to get them out of the ground. That said manufacturing processes are getting cheaper.

      And by manufacturing processes I mean like the plant that turns waste of the nearby turkey processing plant into light oil that can then be refined into various transportation fuels. That process can use a wide variety of feedstocks. Then there is of course ethanol. While US corn ethanol is generally a boondoggle there are ways to make it energy positive as Brazil does. Slowly through using the leftovers as cattle feed the US ethanol system is getting better, but likely still a boondoggle. In any case it is hydrocarbon fuels for the internal combustion engine that are more sustainable than batteries at present.

      • I’m just repeating what Elon Musk’s STATED (i.e. purported) goal for Tesla was. Secondly, Eric said that his mission was to make EVs sexier, which he has. Thirdly, I’m old enough to remember those wedge shaped things that Eric has a pic of in this piece. They could do 30-35 and go for 40 miles or so; that’s precisely why folks didn’t WANT EVs outside of the golf course… 😉

        • If you find my other comment somewhere down there, you’ll see a link to a picture of myself with my first car: one of those wedge-shaped things.

          They were both better and worse than you’ve suggested.

          Truthfully, I loved mine, but that’s because I’m weird. At the time, I only needed it to go from home, to school, and to work. The range was fine for me. And I’ve never cared about speed, so that wasn’t an issue. I mostly drove backroads anyway. If I went anywhere too far I would talk someone into letting me plug in my car while I was there. I never had anyone refuse, probably because it was an oddity. I had many people stop me to talk about the car, many of them asking me to “turn it on” and not realizing it was on until I would hit the accelerator. Gave lots and lots of rides. It was fun.

          I was also amused at the stupidity and rigidity of the DMV trolls who couldn’t understand that there could be a car which had zero cylinders and didn’t use gas OR diesel. Their tiny little minds were incapable of comprehension, because they “had to” fill in that box.

          Now, the downsides. Electrical stuff burned out all the time- especially due to rain dripping inside and getting stuff wet that shouldn’t get wet. I replaced a great many parts, and was fortunate to have the help of my “mad scientist” friend. Cold weather really cut down on the range and performance. As did night driving, since headlights (and the radio) used some of my battery capacity.

          What finally did me in was when I needed to replace the batteries and simply couldn’t afford to do it. Plus, I was starting to want to go farther.

          So I’ve watched the electric cars over the years, waiting to see if battery technology ever manages to be good enough– at a price I can afford (ha ha). But, yeah, I still agree with Eric’s assessment of the EV situation. I just wish it weren’t so.

  5. We were at the run what you brung/test and tunes Friday night and some gold chain wearing douchebag that looked like a contestant from “Iranian Idol” showed up with a Tesla “S” and started loudly challenging everyone in the lanes.

    After he got TORCHED by an early 80’s Malibu, he went down the return road, out the gate and never paid his bet. Sounds just like Elon himself!

      • I tried backing my Comet up to a Tesla “charging station” at of all places, a Pilot truck stop, to get some of the vaunted Tesla power and try to shave off a few tenths but I just had to settle for plain old Sunoco 112.

        The Cometesla was ultimately, a failure

    • I remember some years back when a couple of tech-heads put together the first “Kilacycle” Electric drag bike!
      Wow, 0-60 in.9 seconds; it was all fun and games. Until the day the PR man of the group tried to show off in the parking lot of a hotel where they were promoting the bike. it took .5 seconds for his “burnout” attempt to nearly kill his stupid ass, total the bike, AND the parked cars it less than 50 yards away! Technology can’t fix stupid!

  6. If you, I, or any other person were to attempt anything even approaching what this govt. sponsored criminal has already gotten away with, we would have been crucified by every Govt agency and affiliated AGW in the nation. Howard Hughs and Preston Tucker both spent their own money in an effort to aid aviation and the auto industry, and were both legitimate war-time aircraft contractors. But when the war ended, both became targets of the PTB that didn’t like individuals who succeed on their own merits, and put both of them to the cross.I suspect the Muskrat is using his customer deposits elsewhere, like, maybe, his “Spaceman Spiff” exploits, or god knows what.


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