After years of looking the other way, the government is suddenly looking very closely at Tesla. Elon Musk’s Useful Idiot services may no longer be necessary. Or – just possibly – it is the Orange Man doing us a service.
Half a million Teslas are under scrutiny by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – which is more Teslas than the company made during all of last year and most of the previous year, as well as a huge percentage of all the Teslas ever made, period – based on complaints from owners alleging their cars unintentionally autopilot. Not like Audis of the ‘80s, which ran through walls because their drivers inadvertently pushed the accelerator pedal when they thought they were applying the brakes.
These Teslas have a mind of their own – literally.
It is one of the features touted by Musk. Their futuristic ability to move and maneuver without any need for a driver. Many other cars also have similar systems, of course – but Tesla boasts that its systems go beyond mere “assistance.” Teslas can literally drive themselves – and sometimes in ways their owners didn’t expect.
According to some of the complaints – based on 110 crashes and 52 injuries – Teslas have picked up speed when the situation called for slowing down, as when traffic ahead suddenly did. The people behind the wheel – it’s not editorially accurate to call them drivers – had been using the car’s driver assistance systems, according to NHTSA.
Sometimes, the people aren’t even in the car – luckily for them.
According to one complaint filed with NHTSA by a California Tesla owner, his car was “closed and locked” when “ . . .a few moments later the vehicle started accelerating forward toward the street and crashed into a parked car.”
A Pennsylvania Tesla launched itself “over a curb and into a chain link fence” – in an elementary school parking lot.
What about the children?
Luckily, none were in the mayhem mobile’s path. . . on this occasion.
All of this is in addition to the multiple fatalities resulting from auto-immolating Teslas, the result of what appears to be a Tesla-specific defect and not merely the built-in danger presented by high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs, which can spontaneously combust as the result of a short circuit (and thermal runaway) because of physical damage sustained in a crash.
Several Teslas have caught fire without having had their paint scratched – because of shoddy design. Or shoddy software design. Teslas have gone up in smoke while recharging. Tesla issued an “update” to the software which controls the recharging process in the wake of these fires – all but admitting that the original software was defective.
But Sauron remained sleepy, his eyes seemingly glued shut to anything Tesla did – including Teslas killing people. Juxtapose this indifference to actual mayhem with Sauron’s obsession with what Volkswagen didn’t do – which is hurt a single living soul – by “cheating” on obscurantist, pedantic federal emissions certification tests which mean nothing to anyone except federal bureaucrats, when their authority is affronted.
Not a single crash – much less a fire (or a fatality).
Meanwhile, Tesla was – effectively – promoted by the apparat. Rewarded and praised – and subsidized and mandated. A blind eye was turned, even as it became general knowledge that Teslas were unusually fire-prone as well as the only cars with the ability to drive themselves – including into other cars. Videos of Tesla owners actually asleep at the wheel – something not possible in any other car, because other cars with “driver assistance” systems turn off those systems if the driver takes his hands off the wheel for more than 30 seconds or so – resulted in no fatwas hurled.
The first answer could be that Tesla has served its purpose. Which was to sex up electric cars, make them seem “cool” and “the future” – by focusing attention on Ludicrous Speed and thereby enhancing the appeal and the status of being the owner of what are admittedly good-looking, high-performance cars . . . in order to take people’s minds off the fact that they are also ludicrously expensive, preposterously impractical cars.
Electric cars had been non-starters since the 1920s because they could not compete with internal combustion on cost or everyday practicality.
And they still can’t. But they have been made into celebrities, totems of virtue and social status – almost entirely because of Tesla’s re-branding of the EV as something sexy and cool . . . and don’t worry about what it will cost you in money or hassle.
Until you can’t buy anything but an EV.
Which is not far off.
Tesla’s function, then, was not to build EVs, per se. It was to serve the John the Baptist role for EVs built by the rest of the car industry, which had stayed away from EVs precisely because almost no one wanted one or was willing to put their own money down on one – regardless of pressure from above to make them for the sake of “the environment” and “sustainability.”
Ugly, slow – and expensive – little trolls like the GM EV1 (also called the Impact) of the ‘90s) sailed like glass-bottom boats over shallow coral shoals. Elon changed the perception by his cost-no-object reconstruction of the EV as a fast and desirable thing, which helped to make it a socially desirable thing – especially once EVs became a virtue-signaling thing.
Almost every major car company is now emulating Tesla by building high-performance (and cost-no-object) EVs. Thus, Tesla’s EVs are no longer needed. But Tesla’s serial problems are a problem because they are tainting the carefully constructed image of electric cars as the no-cost Cars of the Future. The public has been successfully conditioned to bat eyes at electric cars – and blank out questions about what they’ll pay, how they’ll pay and how they’ll deal with having to plan their lives around recharging their EV.
But if it make wake them up – or some of them up – if these embarrassing run-amok and catching-fire stories continue cropping up. And maybe for that reason the time has come to pull the rug out from under Tesla.
Another interesting possibility is that the Orange Man is intervening. He doesn’t like electric cars – and has derided the “climate change” shibboleth used to make their purchase (and subsidization of purchases) seem virtuous. He also does not like the exportation of jobs to China – and the importation of stuff made in China by American companies leveraging cheaper Chinese labor – and less burdensome Chinese regulations.
Tesla just recently began shipping Chinese-built cars here. Is it a coincidence that NHTSA is suddenly very interested in unintentional autopiloting – and auto-immolating?
If so, Orange Man good!
He just made up a little for the wag-the-dog Hut! Hut! Hutting! visited upon General Unpronounceable.
. . .
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