Give Elon credit: He knows how to take money.
Not make it. That’s the result of honest, honorable work and the free exchange of value for value.
Elon’s work is of a different sort.
He uses leverage – force or its threat applied to coerce people to part with their money, unwillingly.
The Boston Globe recently did a story (here) about one such owner, a man named Rich Benoit. He bought a salvage title’d Tesla S that had been damaged by flood waters and written off as totaled by the insurance company. He got a really good deal on it. The salvage yard sold him the car – which originally cost almost $80,000 to start – for $14,000.
But he would have to rebuild it in order to be able to drive it. People who can wrench – and want to save some bucks – do this sort of thing all the time.
So he began tearing into his new project car – at which point he realized he would need spare parts as well as access to the codes and other diagnostic data necessary to get the electric UBoat operational again. At which point, he ran into a wall.
Tesla wouldn’t sell Benoit – or anyone else, for that matter – the parts he needed to fix the car, because it was considered an off-the-reservation Tesla, which is to say one over which Tesla no longer had control (more below).
The company also denied him – as well as any other “unauthorized” person – access to the diagnostic information needed to troubleshoot and fix the thing, necessary before replacement parts (whether new or used) could do much good.
Benoit told the Globe of his travails and the Globe contacted Tesla, which responded with the following very interesting statement:
“There are significant safety concerns when salvaged Teslas are repaired improperly or when Tesla parts are used outside of their original intent, as these vehicles could pose a danger to both the mechanic and other drivers on the road.”
Oh. Yes, of course. Those Teslas are still on the reservation (wait).
It’s also a dodge. Not the truck – but another way to mulct people. By forcing them to do business with Tesla in order to keep their Tesla going.
Or, as in this case, to get it going at all.
Of course, Tesla has the right to sell – or not sell – parts to anyone and at whatever price people are willing to pay. Price gouging is obnoxious but the parts do belong to Tesla . . until they’re sold to someone else.
People like Benoit are the owners, having paid (however much) for them in full. Elon’s name isn’t on the title, yet Elon asserts ownership – of the data in the car and of the means to access and decrypt it. This data can’t be easily accessed without Elon’s permission, which he refuses to give – and special equipment, which he forbids the “unauthorized” from using.
It’s of a piece with the way Elon insists each Tesla be controlled by Tesla – which may (at Teslian whim) “unlock” – or lock – various functions such as how much charge the battery will accept. This latter came to light last fall (see here) during the hurricanes which forced evacuations from places about to be waterlogged to those above high tide.The high tide areas were outside the advertised range of the Teslas but – just like that – the range was miraculously extended via an “update” sent to each car over the electronic transom.
By implication, Tesla could almost certainly reduce the range – to zero, if it wished.
And it is certain Tesla is mining a mountain of data – yours. Where and how you go, possibly even live-stream video.
It’s interesting that Tesla doesn’t seem to think you own that.
And the penalty for disconnecting a Tesla – for jumping the reservation wall – is to be cast out from “updates” and blackballed from Teslian “authorized” parts and service.
This is not a new thing, unfortunately.
John Deere – the tractor company – does it, too. When one of their newer rigs needs service, the owner doesn’t service it because he can’t. The diagnostic data is denied him. His must haul the thing to an “authorized” Deere service center and pay the sum demanded.
Or, he can hack the tractor, if he’s good with electronics and software.
Deere of course takes umbrage – and audaciously asserts the software/coding in the tractor they sold still belongs to them.
That the “owner” is in fact a kind of renter who is given conditional use of the thing for however long.
Tesla is trying the same trick, basically.
Some states – like Massachusetts, where Benoit lives – have passed “right to repair laws” but Tesla’s dodge is that they don’t sell cars through dealerships in that state and so are exempted from the provision.
Tesla only sells cars online in Massachusetts.
Ho! Ho! Ho!
If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. The spirit of Johnny Cochrane lives on.
From the crony capitalist perspective, it makes perfect sense.
Or rather, dollars.
Why hassle with trying to compete on the free market when you can have a captive one?
This is becoming the new business model – one pioneered by the insurance mafia, which was the first to leverage the power of government to force people to buy its services. Elon is merely among the new crop of “entrepreneurs” who have seen – and learned. Save more following the deals of them.
It will not get better – and is certain to get worse – until enough of us reassert not only our ownership of the things we buy but of ourselves. The government – and Elon, et al – takes our money on the principle that we don’t own ourselves; that they have a right to a portion of whatever we produce – which is just the same as saying they own a piece of us.
Stop that – and this stops, too.
. . .
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet (pictured below) in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $5 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a sticker – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My latest eBook is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.