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Published on April 3rd, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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Teslamondo — New Must-Follow Tesla Site

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April 3rd, 2014 by Zachary Shahan
 
One of our readers recently let me know that he had started a new site, Teslamondo. I absolutely love it. It packs Tesla news in short but useful and insightful posts that are framed with great humor and originality. Furthermore, the posts often integrate multiple stories, including stories from years back. Clearly, the author has been following Tesla for a long time.

I recommend that you just head on over there and subscribe to the site. However, as an appetizer, here are a few recent articles (links to the originals on the headings):

criswellFIX-IT SHOPS IN A FIX

Assuming Tesla has invented a better mousetrap, we’ll soon see emulation, if not imitation. That means vehicles will have very few internal organs. That means very little need for maintenance. That means very few repair shops. You doubt Criswell? Consider this analogy: If you found a way to shed 80 percent of your internal organs with no downside but plenty of upside, how long would it take before others did the same? Imagine a race of humans with only a brain, stomach and skeleton. What would become of the health care industry? Criswell declares: We are all interested in the future, for that is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives …

TESLA STORES GRANDFATHERED IN NY

There goes another rubber tree plant. Remember the unassailable car dealer lobby and its unassailable grip on public policy? Tesla is pushing it back, inch by inch. Not with outspending or outmaneuvering, but with a quiet tsunami of public support. The recent folly in New Jersey, in which US Pres. Chris Christie* attempted a sucker-punch but only punched himself in the gut, has made it amply clear that the public considers Tesla cool but car dealers — and any politician too cozy with them — uncool. So now we see a new attitude in Ohio, Texas, and New York. Rather than banning Tesla, lawmakers are showing dealers “the hand” and giving Tesla a voice. It looks like new reality in the US will be factory-direct sales for Tesla, middlemen for the rest of the auto kingdom. Unless, of course, other automakers decide that the dealer community is wrong about its indispensability and start to follow Tesla’s lead. So goes the snowball nightmare among car dealerships. My take? It won’t happen, simply because no automaker has the gonads to start a round of civil wars.

*Hopes to be, that is.

shieldNEW SHIELD

The NHTSA declared today that it found no defect in the Model S, after investigators spent the past few months staring at the undercarriage, confused. For investors, this no-defect announcement swats the mosquito that’s been buzzing around the room since last fall. An elemental design flaw would have sent Tesla back not just to the drawing board, but to Staples — to buy a whole new drawing board. Tesla says it’s now installing a new anti-scare apparatus on the Model S at the factory, and will offer retrofits on request. Like the original Tesla shield from the Cold War, this is all about phantom risk. Unfounded spooks tend to dog us in the United States, you might have noticed. Consider the recent Toyota acceleration farce, the Audi acceleration farce of the mid-80s and the Chevy Silverado gas tank farce of the early-90s. We’re not award-winning drivers, but we’re repeat gold medalists in the 500-meter worry and the 1000-meter sue.

falconTRACKING A FLIGHT PATTERN

Tesla now has over 12,000 orders, with deposits, for an abstraction called Model X. These aren’t $100 deposits. Many are $40,000. That’s a lot of interest, in more ways than one. Musk recently said he’s still tinkering with the design of the Model X. It’s a “damn hard” challenge, but apparently nobody doubts he’ll solve this Rubik’s Cube. My take: Styling may be less and less important as Tesla’s brand momentum straightens the curves and flattens the hills. Three burning questions remain:

  • Roof rack?
  • Side cameras instead of mirrors?
  • When Musk et al said the falcon wing doors will make it to production, did they REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY mean it? If the curtain rises on a production Model X and those falcon wings open, it will nudge Tesla fans into the O-zone, as in Orgasm. Tesla will have drop-kicked yet another industry edict: ”Thou must issue ballsy concept cars to generate buzz, then castrate them on the way to production.”

MODEL S IS THE NEW PRIUS, WITH ADDED INGREDIENTS

When Toyota launched the Prius stateside in 2000, it had a negative profit margin, anonymous styling, zero winter traction thanks to primitive low-rolling-resistance tires. And most dauntingly, the Prius had big-name competition right out of the gate. Honda simultaneously opened its mighty Batcave and out came …. a tiny cockroach called the Insight. Well, even though the Insight proudly bore that trusted “H” on the front, it smacked of a rush job, a pre-term delivery that needed another few months in the Batcave, a science experiment that might have been spotted buzzing around Mass Ave. in Cambridge with a manic electronics professor behind the wheel. In short, it made the Prius look and feel like a Bentley by comparison. The Prius required far fewer compromises for similarly stellar fuel economy and green cred.

It’s now 2014. Toyota’s first-round advantage prevailed throughout this heavyweight match. Honda just announced it’s killing the Insight because the Prius has grown to a family of cars in three sizes and three excitement levels: low, lower and lowest.

Compared with the Prius at the turn of the century, the Tesla Model S in 2014 has similarly wayward competition — this time from BMW and GM, and is similarly pregnant with a family of sorts. Take those two ingredients and then add a heaping tablespoon of muscle-car EXCITEMENT to the green-car formula for the first time in automotive history, excepting the niche-bound Tesla Roadster, and you get an expensive indulgence without guilt.

But, say worriers, Tesla is no Toyota. It’s a mouse in a herd of mastodons. It can’t lean on more profitable models while the market digests the Model S. Tesla doesn’t even have household name status yet. Ask the man on the street if he’s ever heard of Elon Musk, and here’s what you’ll get.

* If the man is over 45 years old: “No.”
* If the man is under 45 years old: “No.”
* If the man is under 18 years old. “What grade is he in?”

But Tesla arguably has some advantages over Toyota circa 2000. First, it sells aspirational products that appeal to more of the brain than the prefrontal area of the frontal lobe. Second, it has much more government help, from the seminal loan to the ongoing tax credits to the Tesla ban in some states. Yes, bans help. Telling consumers they can’t have a product is the best possible endorsement and free publicity to boot, especially when a tag team of untrusted car dealers and politicians concocted the ban. And third, Tesla’s relatively small size could quickly go from disadvantage to advantage. Tesla is hyper-reactive. We’ve seen the company change its policies when “others were right and we were wrong.” And we’ve seen it issue over-the-air updates to instantly tweak its cars. Returning to my mouse/mastodon analogy, it’s not hard to imagine such a nimble mouse causing much consternation and even some mastodon injuries while it darts around their feet in the Model S, a.k.a. the new Prius, a fully-assed product among half-assed competition.

Now, regarding those upcoming Toyota and Honda fuel-cell cars …

benz-knockoff

Not a Benz, silly. It’s a BYD.

CHINESE RIVAL VIOLATES SELLING 101, RULE 1

Good car salespeople resist the temptation to disparage the competition. It accomplishes two things, both bad: It makes you look like a lowbrow rookie, and makes the customer MORE interested in the fruit you’re forbidding. So on a larger scale, it’s a bad idea for an automaker to diss another. Yet that’s exactly what the CEO of Chinese automaker BYD did with Tesla. By calling the Model S a “rich man’s toy,” BYD’s chief Wang Chuanfu set the tone for BYD’s salespeople. Surely they’ll repeat the CEO’s mantra in showrooms. This is good news for Tesla, which has priced the Model S in China identically to the US model excepting tariffs etc. That’s unheard-of. Usually automakers boost Chinese pricing simply because they can. So when you couple Tesla’s lowball pricing with lowbrow competition, what do you get? A chance to buy a rich man’s toy on the cheap. This helps the Tesla scale in China:

Advantage, Tesla:

  • It’s made in America. Even China doesn’t like “Made in China.”
  • It’s high-end. China likes frontin’, as evidenced by its infamous luxury-car knockoffs.
  • The same attributes helping it in the US (crashworthiness, performance, tech showcase).

Advantage, BYD:

  • Tax credits for buyers.
  • Anyone can buy a BYD, while Tesla is lumped with gas cars in Beijing’s car-rationing lottery intended to ease pollution.
  • Lower price.
  • Backed by Warren Buffett, the rich guy whose name nobody can spell correctly.

Tesla’s foes in the US are going a step beyond dissing. They’re banning! That’s even better. Banning a product is the ultimate endorsement and instantly provides rocket fuel to its allure. Think of some outlawed movies, videos, music, advertisements etc. over the years. If you weren’t interested before the ban, you were interested afterward and surely found a way around the ban. Tesla’s Q2 report will show the fruits of these high-profile battles as fence-sitters vote with their wallets.

father-knows-bestEDMUNDS KNOWS WHAT’S BEST FOR TESLA

Edmunds.com refers online car shoppers to dealerships and gets paid for it. Nothing wrong with that. But it means Edmunds is a macro car dealer. Which means Edmunds is yet another business potentially disrupted by Tesla. If factory-direct selling becomes de rigeur, what would that mean for Edmunds? Maybe manufacturer-run stores would employ Edmunds the same way. But maybe not. And no business likes “maybe” anything. So it’s no surprise that John O’Dell, green car editor for Edmunds, would hope Tesla adapts instead of disrupts. What’s surprising is that CNN would give O’Dell an open microphone for an opinion piece called “Why Tesla should stop fighting auto dealers.” When I used the comments section to point out the paid relationship between Edmunds and auto dealers, I generated about 500 votes-up in one hour. Then CNN deleted the comment. I re-posted. CNN deleted again and so on:

screen-shot

 

Needless to say, you need to follow Teslamondo.

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • rollon

    who would I learn from Bob…hype spinners like you ?

    • Bob_Wallace

      You need to learn from someone.

  • rollon

    Hey Bob..tesla is now having a problem with front tires wearing prematurely …a suspension problem…that needs adjustment or service….really…so soon !!!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Actually there was a very minor problem with tire wear on the inside edge of the rear wheels.

      Tesla has since changed the camber and offers free tire rotation.

      • rollon

        wrong Bob…this problem has not been solved and is ongoing…

        • Bob_Wallace

          Show us some documentation.

  • rollon

    I know how it works bob

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps you haven’t noticed. All the markets have been down the last few days.

      The S&P 500 Index closed down today 4% from its high.

      Tesla closed down 1% from its high.

      Perhaps you should spend more time in the learning mode and less time in the “I know” mode.

      • rollon

        but I know things about tesla Bob…that tesla dosent want others to know..i am in a unique position

        • Bob_Wallace

          Unique.

  • rollon

    All we know about the life of this car is what the makers tell us…we really don’t know how long those batteries will last (i’m sure it will have a lot to do with how many times they are charged which could differ from driver to driver ) or how well the car will perform over time in different environments…I’m sure glad it’s the rich guys who get to find out

    • Bob_Wallace

      Different chemistry, but the BYD batteries in EVs used for taxi service are reaching 150,000 miles with no appreciable degradation. And that is most with rapid charging.

      8 to 10 years is an estimate made using average driving behavior.

      • rollon

        Are these taxis in the U.S. ?

        • Bob_Wallace

          The oldest/highest mileage are in China. Other countries are now running fleets. I don’t know that the US has any to date.

      • rollon

        So ..define average driving behavior…if you don’t hit the sweet spot…you’ll get less then 8 years ?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Were you to drive a ICEV 50,000 miles a year you would get a shorter lifetime than were you to drive it 5,000.

  • rollon

    Bob…how do you really know about the brakes..in theory they should last longer ?
    And of course we know a conventional car would need stuff service..we have been driving them for decades among decades…but how do you know about this untested electro….how long have you been driving yours ?

    • Bob_Wallace

      How does one really know?

      Physics.

      If the pads do not engage the rotor there is no abrasion.

      • rollon

        Physics Bob ?…so in the classroom or laboratory they seem fine…unfortunately Bob …reality defines Physics

        • rollon

          besides Bob…when it comes to brakes and other components this car is heavy..our experience tells us that the heavier the vehicle the faster parts wear…including brakes…but I’ve looked at the brakes on a tesla up close on a service rack with wheel off…they are well made and appear to be well oversized in the rear possibly because of it’s weight…. you will mostly see brakes of this size on high performance cars with top speeds much higher then the model s

          • Bob_Wallace

            Probably would do you good to learn about regenerative braking. Information is available by googling.

          • rollon

            really stuck on those brakes…. aren’t you Bob

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let me suggest that the over-sized brakes are there for when someone wishes to drive in “performance” mode and forego regenerative braking. Most of the time most people won’t.

            They may also be ‘belt and suspenders’ backup in case the regenerative braking system might fail.

          • rollon

            I ‘ve just learned Bob that tesla is not buying back the the cars that total anymore…that puts used parts into the flow of things…this could be interesting

          • Bob_Wallace

            You could perhaps direct to where Tesla has posted that information?

            (I’m afraid I’m not viewing you as a very reliable source.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            BTW, did you ever learn why cars with regenerative braking experience less brake wear?

  • rollon

    really bob…why are all the certified tools german …American tooling not good enough for tesla ??…this car may be built in the US but it was engineered in Austria…this car has a slue of electronics and more traditional parts (that make it a car) that will require service…we don’t know how much service because this car has no valued real world experience….8 years from now when those $30,000.00 batteries go bad..we will be able to see how much service the other parts will need….

    • Bob_Wallace

      Look, we have a global economy. We make stuff and sell it in other countries. Other countries make stuff and sell it here.

      Tesla is an American company that is starting to sell a significant portion of its production overseas.

      As for service, we know that brakes will get less wear. We know that industrial electric motors have extremely long lives if they are properly sized.

      Any of us who have owned an ICEV knows all the stuff that needs servicing and repairing. And most of us just don’t have to make a lot of non-engine related repairs.

      Tires, windshield wipers, light bulbs – a lot of stuff will be the same. We don’t yet know about battery life, but the Tesla pack is large enough that it should last the life of the car.

      • rollon

        tesla’s engineers say the life of the battery is 8 to 10 years…is that the life of the car ? This car has everything a conventional car has except they are electric…ever had an electric appliance break Bob..i guess not…wipe all the hype and conjecture away and you have just another electric car…that will require service,…however different from the conventional auto …but will still require adjustments and service.
        The fact that tesla refuses to believe this..will be the stake through the heart for this wanna be car maker. Customer service will prove disastrous for this delorean.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The average life of a US car is 13 years. At 8 to 10 years the Tesla should still maintain 80% of its original range, which is the way battery life is commonly defined.

          The S with an 85 kWh battery pack has a 265 mile range. At 80% that would be down to 212 miles. Some people might replace their battery packs. I would suspect most won’t.

          We’ll have to see if EVs have a repair problem with their motors, batteries, controllers. They certainly won’t need oil changes, belt replacements, radiator flushes, …

  • rollon

    don’t let tesla fool you..they have brakes ..steering ..ac..and heat..and a score of other things like the data center that will need service…If you had a business..any business and your competition was allowed to operate without paying the taxes..fees..and payroll taxes you have to pay..you would have 12 lawyers jumping all over them..play the game head to head..and see how well that foreign engineered plug in does…

    • Bob_Wallace

      EVs have regenerative braking which means far fewer brake rebuilds. They don’t need any of the ICE, fuel system, cooling system, exhaust system maintenance/repairs. Service and repair needs will fall.

      BTW, Tesla is a 100% American car. As it the Volt. As is the Spark. As is the Focus EV. The Nissan Leaf is built in Tennessee.

  • rollon

    don’t forget those dealerships make about 50 jobs each for your community…either tesla does it like the rest or the rest can do it like tesla…not what tesla is hoping for…

    • Bob_Wallace

      A good portion of those 50 jobs are in the service bays. Regardless of who makes the EVs or how they are sold those jobs won’t continue as ICEVs fade away.

      As far as the sales people, let them go get more honorable jobs.

      • rollon

        ICEVs won’t fade away..they will just get better…after the novelty wears off the EVs will fade away…remember the fight musk has imposed has just started..there is still the huge oil industry…auto makers..and now insurance companies ( which is very interesting )…that he will have to contend with….if you think this car will revolutionize automobiles in this country remember ford sells as many of one model in one month as tesla could even hope to sell in one year…
        The success of this car will be driven by customer satisfaction…and if you ever need any kind of repair…they will no doubt be unhappy..I happen to know about tesla’s repair process…it’s a joke..

        • Bob_Wallace

          Physics sets limits for ICEVs. They will never be as inexpensive as EVs to operate per mile.

  • Johnny Le

    Are you saying Tesla doesn’t have the household name status because Elon Musk doesn’t have the household name status? I know Toyota but I don’t know anything about Toyoda. That’s the owner of Toyota, right? I don’t even know his first name. So this is more likely to occur when a man is asked if he has heard of Tesla:
    If the man is over 45 years old: “That’s the scientist.”
    * If the man is under 45 years old: “That’s a band.”
    * If the man is under 18 years old. “What grade is he in?”

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Which point are you referring to?

      I recall mention of Tesla not being a household name up there somewhere, but took that as reference to this survey: http://evobsession.com/22-population-familiar-tesla-model-s-31-familiar-nissan-leaf/

      • Johnny Le

        You wrote:
        …Tesla doesn’t even have household name status yet. Ask the man on the street if he’s ever heard of Elon Musk, and here’s what you’ll get.

        * If the man is over 45 years old: “No.”
        * If the man is under 45 years old: “No.”
        * If the man is under 18 years old. “What grade is he in?”

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Aha :D

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