Cars

Published on January 27th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan

14

Akon = Tesla Fanboy (Exclusive Video)

January 27th, 2016 by  

Update: Note that most of us here (including myself) self-identify as Tesla fanbois & fangurls.

Yesterday, I shared a video interview with international superstar Akon that I conducted with him regarding Akon Lighting Africa, a company he and a couple of other guys launched to bring solar power and LED lighting to millions of Africans. Tagged on at the end of that was a joking question about whether or not he had a Tesla Model X or Model S yet. I figured there was a chance he had a Model S, but if not, I thought I’d plant the seed and hope that he followed through and became a Tesla driver and EV evangelist.

Akon Solar Lighting Tesla InterviewI was pretty surprised to find out his story on this front, and I thought it was something worth highlighting on its own since many people tune in for Tesla stories who don’t care much about solar and probably skimmed over the solar-focused headline yesterday.

Like many famous musicians and actors, Akon went on a car-buying spree after becoming rich. He had 28 cars, including Lamborghinis, Ferraris, BMWs, and so on. However, he found the Teslas to be so much better than anything else, that he got rid of all of his other cars and now just has 4 Teslas — 2 at his home in Georgia and 2 at his home in California.

The Tesla love isn’t brand new, either. Akon has apparently been a big fan of Tesla long enough to be one of the first people to put a $40,000 deposit (or two?) down for the Tesla Model X (~4 years ago). I didn’t ask him what Model X VIN(s) he had, but he was apparently one of the first few hundred people to receive an X.

Akon did make one notable mistake, imho — he chose white for all of his Teslas…. He apparently didn’t think my love of the brown and green Teslas was very cool, and to be fair, those are no longer options and white seems to be the one of most popular options, but it’s still my least favorite color on a Tesla, so I’ll stick to my claim that he made a mistake on that front. (At least change it up for different moods, man!) On the plus side, white is more energy efficient in the hot climates where Akon lives, so we can give him some more green cred for that.

Akon ZachAkon told me that his Teslas were all customized (natch) but “P85D” didn’t seem to register, so I wasn’t sure how aware he was of other plug-in cars on the market. I started to tell him about how the BMW i8 and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid compared (i.e., didn’t) to the Tesla Model S, from my perspective, but before I even got to tell him how much better Tesla’s all-electric driving experience was compared to these plug-in hybrids, he beat me to the punch and went on a tangent about how they’ve got to be fully electric and how great Tesla’s over-the-air software updates, extra space, and torque are. I loved it.

The enthusiasm in his speech and the light in his eyes really made me want to highlight this aspect of his green focus, and the first title that popped into my head was, “Akon, The Tesla Fanboi.” He seemed to be cool with that idea, so I basically ran with it above (as you’ve already seen).

I love that Akon also threw in that BMW should let him test a fully electric high-performance car if they make one, and that he wants Elon Musk to provide him with a special Akon Tesla. Using that star magic for bigger opportunity — that’s what it’s for, right? I hope such collaborations do occur, because that’s the kind of thing that just pulls more and more people to electric cars… which we hugely need. (And as I said before, I hope Akon does loop us in for some exclusive coverage if he does make a deal with Elon!)

While Akon didn’t highlight the green benefits of electric cars when talking to me, I’m under the impression these matter a lot to him. In a separate interview a Masdar guy conducted with him soon after mine, Akon talked at length about the need for climate action. Here’s an extended quote from that:

“Our passion is always going to be the key to our freedom, but ultimately freedom doesn’t exist if we’re in a position that we’re not [inaudible] within ourselves. This energy crisis is way beyond just… a thought. Like, this is not only our futures, but it’s our kids’ futures and it’s the world’s future, because, even when you look at the climate change and how things are drastically changing, if we don’t come together now, as we’re doing, because it’s going to be this generation that makes the difference — clearly — it’s gonna be a huge problem for us tomorrow. There is no future for the earth. Nature is not gonna wait. Nature’s gonna go on with or without us. The same way dinosaurs went extinct, guess what, nature kept moving. That’s just the natural course of life, so we have to want better for our environment, because our environment at the end of the day is what allows us to live free and enjoy life the way it is. So we all have to play a role, and we all have to unite. Forget whatever issues, whatever differences — at the end of the day, as humans, as the human race, we all have to live under the same globe, so we have to come together and make the right decisions.”

Great stuff. Akon is definitely a climate hawk. Here’s that full interview for much more on his solar passion, dreams about helping the world, African roots, and wise advice for the young people in the audience and in general:

And here’s my full (recorded) interview with Akon, including the solar power component:

Huge props to Akon for using his star power and money to advance the solar revolution, the EV revolution, and LED lighting. Couldn’t ask for much more. (But I’m sure I will if I get the chance again. 😀 )

Regarding that note at the top, here are the results from surveys we conducted with >2,000 EV drivers and potential EV drivers:

fanboi 1

fanboi 2


Check out our new 93-page EV report.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



  • ROBwithaB

    From Urban Dictionary:

    Boi
    1. in the lesbian community, a young transgendered/androgynous/masculine
    person who is biologically female and presents themselves in a young,
    boyish way; a boidyke; often also identifies as genderqueer.

    2. in the gay community, a young gay man;

    3. in the BDSM community, someone who presents themselves in a young, boyish way and is usually a bottom/submissive;

    And the word also has very negative racist overtones, in that black adult males during the Apartheid era were routinely referred to as Booi, in a deliberate attempt to humiliate and infantilise them. (I think the American south had a similar pejorative usage.)

    For the record: I take a very keen interest in Tesla’s business model, its strategies, its technologies and its underlying philosophies. I own a significant chunk of the stock (and am adding to it), will probably be buying a couple dozen Powerwalls within the next year, and might even buy one of the cars if they ever make it to South Africa.
    I even have a grudging personal admiration for Elon Musk himself.

    But I am most certainly NOT a fanboi, or any other kind of boi.

    The whole simplistic “fanboi” thing just serves to belittle those who are actively working towards a more sustainable future, obfuscates the complexities of the required transition, hampers efforts by other carmakers to enter the market, and ALIENATES a lot of “normal” people to the extent that they would never want to be associated with the brand, or any electric car…

    “Fanboi” ??
    It’s awkward. It’s presumptuous. It’s inaccurate. And it’s, like, sooo 2014.
    Enough already. Please.

    • Hmm, okay, I was not aware of that history. Seems it has recently been reclaimed in a fun way, but maybe I picked that up incorrectly/accidentally somewhere.

  • Kyle Field

    This is great. Love the interview. I found a few interesting bits online about him…and could only find one other place online where he talks about Tesla so this is cool.

    TC: Do you have one dream car that got away?

    A: Well my Lambo, but I still got that. I got rid of everything else except my Range Rover. But I got this Tesla. Man that Tesla’s a {edit:really) amazing car . . . There’s enough torque on that thing, like that thing is so fast because there’s no engine in it—it’s run by a computer, so it’s extremely light. Like this thing is almost faster than my Lamborghini. It goes from 0 to 50 in five seconds like no problem . . . I want all my cars to be electric cars.

    TC: So you’re just eventually gonna have a garage full of Teslas?

    A: Man, I’m gonna try and design my own Tesla.

    TC: Oh really?

    A: Absolutely. That’s my next goal.

    – See more at: http://www.charlatan.ca/2015/09/tidal-strip-club-inspiration-and-tesla-cars-akon-interviewed/#sthash.koBbM3qH.dpuf

    I also found one bit about Akon’s old cars (all white):

    http://www.celebritycarsblog.com/celebrity/akon/

    • Ha, very cool. I was surprised to hear his responses. Have listened to them so many times by now, and keep giving me a smile. The enthusiasm is wonderful, and just so great to be coming from someone like him.

      I hope he gets more vocal about these. Can only help, imho.

      And he definitely seemed serious about wanting an Akon Tesla of sorts. Curious to see if he can get Elon to move forward on something like that.

      Overall, the guy really offered a lot of great words of wisdom. The on-stage interview I recorded was particularly nice. But I also loved the one I conducted, of course. The guy really impressed me. Though, to be fair, I didn’t know much about him beforehand. Basically just what I looked up once I found out I was interviewing him.

    • Kraylin

      Interesting that he thinks the Tesla is light because of the lack of traditional engine. While there is of course weight savings from no gas engine the battery weight easily makes up for it and the Model S overall is a pretty heavy car.

      Of course his assumption that the Tesla is a light car comes from the huge amounts of power available instantaneously at all times thanks to the electric drive train. Someone help him understand a little better so he can help spread the word on the benefits of an Electric Vehicle. 🙂

  • jalamdhara

    Please rethink the word in the title “Fanboi” It’s a derogatory term. Just look up what boi means. So either you’re calling Akon a fan of Tesla (a fanboy), or you’re calling him some transgendered person that likes Tesla. Even calling him a fanboy implies his devotion to Tesla is completely blind to reason. He’s a very intelligent person and doesn’t need to be classified as a dimwit. He’s a fan, or he’s not. Pick one, don’t try to be hip to appeal to the millennial using terms wrongly applied. I haven’t even touched the sub-categories of how it’s a major no-no to call a black man ‘boy’ . . .

    • dRanger

      Jeez dude, lighten up. See, there’s this thing called humor that most humans have…

    • Sorry for the confusion. I meant to tie in a recent report we published. Just added the update. The majority of us (myself included) self-identify as Tesla fanbois or fangurls. The way I personally see it is as a fun reclaiming of the term. I assume that’s how others see it as well.

      • ROBwithaB

        “The way I personally see it is as a fun reclaiming of the term.”

        Well… yes, maybe.
        But actually no.
        The Boi thing has a lot of connotations beyond the current faddish appropriation by the ComicCon set, as “fanboi”, used to identify hardcore fans. Even there, it clearly has implied undertones of erotic (normally homoerotic) hero worship. If you’ve read some of the torrid fan-fiction out there (warning: just don’t) you’ll have a better handle on the concept.
        “Boi” (or alternately “Booi”), in various cultures, is an insult with the same power to offend (and similar usage) as “n*gger” or “fa*got”.

        So yeah, if you’re part of a group that has been deliberately insulted and marginalised by the use of the term “Boi”, feel free to go ahead and “reclaim” it.

        I’m normally one fighting against any kind of “political correctness” and telling people to lighten up. But in this instance I would urge you to reconsider the whole “fanboi” thing. You’re welcome to self-identify as such, and you’re welcome to encourage others to do so.
        But accept that a lot of current and potential Tesla owners are a bit older than the demographic that throws about terms like “fanboi”.
        As such , they’re probably a little out of touch with the whole zeitgeist, and don’t quite realise that, in their attempt to be “cool”, they’re basically admitting to a desire to get some man love from Elon.

        Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Different strokes for different folks. Just not my particular cup of tea….

        • OK, thanks for the context. Learning this, I’m changing the titles.

          I am much more familiar with the recent transformation of the term, but wasn’t so deeply aware of it and wasn’t aware of its history. So… yeah, that was a mistake.

          • ROBwithaB

            No worries.
            Language is weirdly fluid at the best of times, and the instantaneous global inter-connectedness of modern pop culture is only speeding up the evolution. Sub cultures branch off, and are then swallowed up by others, and their memes are appropriated, in other contexts, by different subcultures….

            It is increasingly difficult to keep up. Especially as one gets older. Jaaa…..
            Luckily I have a teenage daughter who is able to point out my social gaffes. Frequently.

            I don’t pretend to be an expert. But I’m certainly aware of the sexual element inherent in the whole “fanboi” concept. Sure, I have a lot of respect for some of the things that Elon has achieved, but that doesn’t mean I’m volunteering to be his man-boy-toy…

          • Indeed….

            And, yes, I think the large majority of us who self-identified as fanbois didn’t have any knowledge of that innuendo.

      • jalamdahra

        The link requires us to enter our name, e-mail address in order to receive the report, then requires us to agree to receive greentechnica reports spam, and after doing so, we can opt out anytime we want. How about just a direct link to the file itself?

        I guess I must be in the minority regarding your clique. If you don’t see the irony in that, I guess there’s nothing else for me to say on this topic.

        • Regarding the term, I just learned much more about its history from ROBwithaB. Apologies: I wasn’t so aware of it, and have been using it in the “2014 on” way… basically, just as a term to highlight *huge* fans.

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