Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > My Thoughts on the Systemic Scam Underlying Tesla Motors: 1

My Thoughts on the Systemic Scam Underlying Tesla Motors: 1

As regular readers know, I have previously written a couple of posts (link 1, link 2) on the fraud underling SpaceX’s claims of “disrupting” and “revolutionizing” the space launcher industry. To summarize the gist of both posts, my issues with their business model are largely centered on the hilariously optimistic claims made by them about future prospects for basically unlimited growth and market monopolization. While becoming yet another boring but reliable player in the international launch market is feasible for them, it is clear that they selling far bigger dreams without being honest about it.

Now, if you thought that this post would make a similar case against Telsa motors, you guessed right! As you will soon see, my issues with the business model of Tesla Motors and its borderline hypomaniac CEO, Elon Musk, have nothing to do with the feasibility of building an electric car with acceptable performance and mileage. Even a brief overview of the history of technological developments (especially rechargeable lithium batteries) as they relate to building viable electric automobiles shows that viable electric cars were possible anytime after the late 1990s.

But before we go any further, let us talk a bit more about what has historically been the single largest obstacle to developing viable and competitive electric cars. Yes.. I am talking about the energy density of rechargeable batteries, aka the source of energy for such vehicles. As some of you might know, electric cars and conventional gasoline powered cars came onto the market at around the same time, over a hundred years ago. Even more interestingly, early electrical cars were quite competitive with their contemporary gasoline-powered competitors.

What ultimately doomed electric cars by the late 1910s was that their range on single charge just could not keep up with the steadily improving performance of gasoline powered cars. Also, the extent of electrification necessary to make such short-range cars viable was simply not there till after WW2. In contrast to that, gasoline was easy to transport, store and cars using it had much better range, speed in addition to being much less expensive to drive per mile or kilometer. Lead acid batteries, you see, have a pretty shitty energy density (as in almost 70-80 times lower) when compared to gasoline and an equivalent amount of electric energy was (and still is) more expensive than gasoline or diesel.

The energy density of modern lithium-ion batteries is now only 10-20 times lower than gasoline, which while still being sorta shitty, is good enough to power cars with decent performance and range- largely because electric motors are lighter than equivalent internal-combustion engines and the former do not require conventional transmissions. Problems related to the speed of recharging such vehicles and storing electricity cheaply on a large-scale do however still remain, as do issues related to using them in less populated areas without a reliable electrical grid. In other words, electric cars are still a niche product.

To make matters worse for electric cars, their gasoline (and diesel) powered competitors have benefited from over a century of continuous improvements. The technology behind them is mature and very well understood, as is the ability to produce them at very high quality levels on ginormous scales. There is a reason why you can buy a new Toyota Corolla for a fairly affordable price and expect it to run almost half a million kilometers with basic maintenance and relatively inexpensive repairs. The real competition for Tesla cars are not other electric- or luxury gasoline- powered cars but your humble Toyota Corollas, Honda Accords and Hyundai Sonatas.

Which brings us to the first problem specific to Tesla Motors. Simply put, they motors has yet to produce, or even demonstrate the technological wherewithal for making, cars which can directly compete against their highly optimized mass-market gasoline powered competitors. If you don’t believe me, compare the price of a fully loaded Toyota Corolla and a Tesla 3. Did I mention that you can buy a Corolla right now, while the status of full-scale Tesla 3 production is still up in the air. Did I mention that they have been having these problems for over a year now, unexpected departure of many senior executives and issues ranging from the poor product quality to thoughtless design choices. I could go.. but you get the point.

Even worse, the Chevy Volt which has specs very similar to a base level Tesla 3 has proven to a poor seller. To put it another way, the real reason Tesla Motors still has a (now rapidly shrinking) waiting list for their cars is largely due to the cache of owning a Tesla car, rather than electric cars being competitive with gasoline powered ones. This is somewhat like there being a prestige market for rabbit droppings if rabbits suddenly went extinct. But what happens once the prestige market for Tesla cars get tapped out?

As readers might know only too well, most people buy cars to use them as appliances. It certainly helps if a car looks good or is considered cool, but as even a quick glance will demonstrate, most people are quite happy to drive mediocre-looking beige boxes as long as they are reliable and affordable to own. The unpleasant fact is that there are simply not enough customers for quirky prestige cars for Tesla Motors to cause any real “disruption” in the automobile manufacture business. And we have not even started talking about Tesla cars being especially susceptible to malicious hacking, safety issues resulting from lack of physical controls for many basic functions, finding raw materials to manufacture lithium-ion batteries on the scale they are talking about.

In the next part of this series, I will talk about the rather peculiar similarities between the overall career profile of Elizabeth Holmes and Elon Musk. Yes.. she is the CEO of that now disgraced company which was able to fool investors, bankers and other “experts” for almost 15 years. As I will show you in the next post, both Elon Musk and that woman are purveyors of what I call the “Silicon Valley Scam”, which is largely based on making highly exaggerated claims based on a kernel of reality and appealing to the “optimism” of clever idiots in Silly Valley with empty lives to part with their money. But there is much more to that scam as you will find about in the next part of this series.

What do you think? comments?

  1. Someone
    June 24, 2018 at 3:29 am

    Eric Peters Autos writes about Tesla quiet a bit. Electric cars are still crap in a lot of ways. If they could ever make a reliable electromechanical battery, then they would be viable.

    And this company here gets no government support:

    https://www.eliomotors.com

    As an American, I can’t afford all this BS stuffed into newer cars. Gone are the days when a person of modest means could buy a vehicle with a V8 motor. I would Trump to remove the CAFE standards so we can have real cars again.

    • 99 Percent Libertarians Are Blue Collar Chumps
      June 24, 2018 at 6:32 am

      Trump is going to shit on low income,mean spirited chumps like you and give a huge tax cut to the rich.
      You are fucked,no more nice cars for your ilk.

      Shillary would not have done things much differently, either.

      • Someone
        June 25, 2018 at 3:08 am

        I’m happy Trump is making an effort to protect the border. I actually came out ahead on the tax cut though the federal government is way too big. As chump yourself, what was your point?

    • (((They))) Live
      June 24, 2018 at 7:19 am

      Batteries are pretty reliable now, Tesla, GM, BMW, Nissan, all make batteries that are good for well over 10 years and 100s of K miles, EVs will be very popular in Europe and Asia where fuel costs for more than in the US

      I think eliomotors have a good idea but its hard to see them producing and selling cars at such a low price

      As I said in my post, electric cars with decent performance and range have been possible since the late 1990s. The real question is- who wants them? Fuel costs are largely irrelevant because getting the same amount of usable energy into a car via electricity is still significantly more expensive than gasoline in those countries. Also what are you going to use to replace Cobalt in the Lithium -ion batteries?

      • (((They))) Live
        June 24, 2018 at 10:13 am

        Have you ever been to Europe ? where I live gasoline costs close to €1.50 a litre or about €5.70 per US gallon, in dollars thats $6.66 per gallon

        So who wants EVs, well I work with some one who does a 100 mile per day commute so he switched to EV last year and is saving thousands per year in fuel and servicing costs, I don’t think there any first world counties where electricity is more expensive than Petrol, saying fuel costs are irrelevant is simply wrong

        A large number of people will ditch oil faster than you think, just look at Norway

      • Christoph Koch
        June 24, 2018 at 10:20 pm

        It’s actually significantly more expensive to run a conventional car specifically in Germany. Tax on gasoline is crazy here.

        Quick calculation:
        Tesla model s with a 100kWh battery should be good for 400km. At 25 cent per kWh that’s 25€.

        Asuming a comparable car uses 8l/100km at 1,5€/l that would be 48€ for 400km.

      • Christoph Koch
        June 24, 2018 at 10:26 pm

        I have to agree though, that Musk is a bullshit artist who’s full of crap. 😀

        Travel city to city by rocket?
        Colonize Mars?

        Tesla seems broke anyways.

      • Someone
        June 25, 2018 at 3:10 am

        America is not Europe. Distances are still far in most parts of the country. Heat and cold extremes make an electric car impractical. In southern states, a car AC is a must. EV’s are another expensive SJW project. No one ever points out the the average Tesla employee cant even afford the low end model.

  2. (((They))) Live
    June 24, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Its foolish to compare Musk to a fraudster like Holmes

    Musk’s cars and rockets actually work, they are real products that actually exist, Elizabeth Holmes never had anything to sell, from the start it was a scam for suckers

    Theranos did not make totally useless crap. Some of their tests also “worked”. They were just not accurate and reproducible enough for clinical use.

    As for Tesla who knows what will happen, taken over by Toyota or GM would be my guess, and SpaceX will dominate the launch business and send people back to the Moon and then on to Mars, its also possible that Musk’s satellite system makes his richer than Bezos

    You do realize that there is far more to putting people on the moon than building large rockets.. right? Also, a trip to Mars on a chemical powered rocket is too slow. Long story short, being in space (weightlessness) for 8-10 months has very bad effects on your musculo-skeletal system even if you exercise and take drugs to reduce bone and muscle loss.

    • (((They))) Live
      June 24, 2018 at 10:23 am

      No Theranos had nothing, it was a scam, Tesla have plenty of criticism but nobody doubts that their cars and other products work, you can go for a test drive yourself, if you don’t like Tesla or Musk fine, but their cars do work

      I know exactly whats needed for getting to the Moon or Mars, since the 90s I have read plenty of books on the subject, you should take a look a Robert Zubrin’s work on the subject, he has some videos on youtube, well worth a look if you really do have an interest in the subject

      I understand the point of your blog, you like to take the contrarian view point which these days is a good thing, (its why I like to read your opinions) you could be right that Tesla is way overvalued and will go bust or get bought out by bigger players, but for some reason you don’t understand SpaceX and what Musk is going to do

      • Nf
        June 24, 2018 at 12:00 pm

        What part of the article above says anything about Tesla cars not working? Re-read the article slowly and try to comprehend better. Or don’t. It’s probaly a lost cause.

      • (((They))) Live
        June 25, 2018 at 3:39 am

        He compares Musk/Tesla to Holmes/Theranos, Musk sells products that actually work so to compare him to Elizabeth Holmes is unfair IMO

        Re-read the article slowly and try to comprehend better. Or don’t. It’s probably a lost cause.

  3. (((They))) Live
    June 24, 2018 at 7:24 am

    To understand EVs better you need to realise that while its true that Gasoline has far better energy density that batteries, most of the energy in an ICE gets lost as heat and never reaches the wheels, also countries with no oil reserves will push hard for EVs thats most of Asia and Europe

    I am well aware of the math involved, which is why I said that Lithium -ion batteries are good enough for automobiles.

  4. Nf
    June 24, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Been waiting for another musk article! Thanks.

    Most people don’t understand that Tesla only exists because of the direct and indirect government subsidy. This is true for all his fucking shenanigans- going back all the way to PayPal. It’s ridiculous the level of tax rebate you get for owning a 100k car. Not to mention the free fuel you get when you park at Whole Foods or the fucking mall. Most people also don’t understand where there electric fuel comes from and think it comes from the ether. He’s able to pull it all off bc he’s at the extreme fringe of tech where only real experts can tell you why he’s full of shit but then most people are too fucking stupid to even understand what the experts are saying anyway.

    Musk and ALL of his bs businesses are pure Ponzi schemes. He comes up with a brand new claim every time he needs a boost of income. His hyper loop is perhaps the greatest nonsense ever. “Giving away” his patents was business pure and simple and well and had nothing to do with altruism.

    I got into at work the other day with someone who is a musk true believer. He started shouting about peak oil. This is the kind of moron that likes musk.

    • (((They))) Live
      June 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Musk isn’t involved in the Hyperloop, its just an idea he talked about, he later said maybe it would be better to have said nothing

      If Whole Foods want to give away free electricity to people, so what, its their money, in any case electricity is cheap, they make money from the drivers shopping at their store, you can expect to see more business letting people charge for “free” if you shop in their store, mall ect

      Most EV drivers know full well how electricity is generated, in future expect many of them to switch to Solar PV

      How long before someone claims EVs are powered by coal, and then someone else will say fuel cells are the future

      • Nf
        June 24, 2018 at 12:25 pm

        Musk isn’t involved in the hyper loop? Where do you get that from?
        You missed my point about everything else but why should I be surprised.
        Most electricity powering evs in the us IS made via burning coal. But get this…carbon in the atmosphere isn’t causing climate change. Hope that didn’t blow your mind too much.

  5. (((They))) Live
    June 24, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    OK Nf, Wikipedia lists a number of companies working on the Hyperloop idea, which one is Musk involved with ?

    Because of the cost per KM to build it the Hyperloop its not going to happen, Musk knows this, its like Maglev, beyond a few test tracks it won’t become a viable form of transport

    And NO most EVs in the US are NOT powered by coal, coals% of the grid is falling fast, cheap natural gas is killing coal and cheap Solar PV is going to kill natural gas, every time I hear someone talk about coal powered EVs I always know I’m dealing with a fool

    Most of the subsidies BS about Musk comes from a piss poor article in the LA Times, they count every deal Musk does with the government as a subsidy, eg SpaceX launch a DOD satellite for 100million and fools like you call this a subsidy, the fact that ULA would have charged 400million for the same launch is never called a subsidy

    Someone buys a GM Bolt and gets a 7$K tax break, no problem, some one else buys a Model 3 and gets the same tax break and people like you claim Musk is getting subsidies, its BS IMO

    I answered most of your claims but you really don’t know what you’re talking about

    • Nf
      June 24, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      You didn’t answer a single thing I put forward. Instead you claimed once again that musk isn’t involved involved in the hyperloop.
      https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/09/elon-musks-hyperloop-test-aiming-for-half-the-speed-of-sound.html
      Then you built straw men arguments left and right. Tell me what is producing the gigantic amounts of electricity used by the citizens of the us? It’s not solar or wind. OR anything “clean” – although as I said before coal actually is clean but let’s forget that now.
      As for your subsidies confusion any subsidy from the government is a subsidy. I never said Chevrolet doesn’t get subsidies from the government (all car companies get the indirect subsidy of road production and maintenance from the government). How do you know I got my information from one article (I didn’t)? You’re clearly a fan boi.

  6. (((They))) Live
    June 24, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    natural gas is clean you fool, in the US it produces more electricity than coal, nuclear energy is also clean and produces about 20% of US electricity, Hydro produces 13%, wind and PV are growing, coal is finished, bye bye

    Musk built a small Hyperloop test track in 2015 and thats it, he’s not involved in any of the other companies, he has already said he should have kept the idea to himself, Musk has far too much on his plate to be worried or care about the Hyperloop, he has ZERO plans to build a commercial Hyperloop, it won’t happen, he has bigger fish to fry

    Your definition of subsidy is foolish, just because the government buys something does NOT make it a subsidy

    Tesla might go bust, who cares, EVs are here to stay now, SpaceX won’t be stopped, nor will Blue Origin, the haters can hate all they want, but thats the facts

    You really don’t know what you’re talking about, but keep going bro it makes me laugh

    • NF
      June 24, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      You’re literally shouting about nonsense that no one here has said anything about. When did anyone discuss natural gas not being clean? Then you call me a fool. Smh. It is cute you seem to think musk has no interest in hyperloop or that the word subsidy has a “strict” definition, especially when used in conjunction with direct and INDIRECT. But even using your strict view Tesla has received BILLIONS from tax payers. None of this matters to you anyway because you clearly are hear to argue a point and not a single shred of actual evidence will ever change your view.

    • NF
      June 24, 2018 at 8:31 pm

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/mach/amp/ncna855041

      Musk doesn’t have any “interest” in the hyperloop.
      Not a single bit.

  7. (((They))) Live
    June 25, 2018 at 2:39 am

    You claimed that most electricity powering EVs is produced by coal, this is wrong and you should admit it, the coal % of the grid is dropping fast

    Yes Musk is working on trying to make TBMs and tunnels cheaper but thats not the same as the Hyperloop AFAIK he plans to drive cars through the tunnels

    You don’t know what you’re talking about

    • June 26, 2018 at 11:37 am

      thanks, nice to see someone who is above 120, here.. in this comment section…. The Devil here went on full malnarc and the….. and I don’t like Musk at all

  8. P Ray
    June 25, 2018 at 2:51 am

    It will be interesting to watch how the cities of the world cope with sudden increased demand for electricity, while telling people to “consume less”. Also looking forward to more fires getting started due to poor quality chargers and of course, exploding cars!

  9. Salty Nutz
    June 25, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Way off topic, can you write an article about “Seeking Arrangements?” You’re a genious

  10. Not Born This Morning
    June 25, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Scams to sell unsustainable or less reliable physical phenomena are destined to fail (eventually or immediately) no matter the social or political context. This is so because physical phenomena is based in reality which is ultimately undeniable, cannot be hidden indefinitely.

    Scams to sell political or social ideals endure indefinitely (at least on some level) because the product is not based in reality.

    The one concept I recall from Psych 101 was that insanity is defined by an individuals inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. The professor said if we remembered anything from the course, it should be this. The individual is considered insane when they can no longer distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality (think Anthony Bourdain may have lost the ability to make this distinction, eh?)

    The difference between reality and fantasy is the same as the difference between the real and the ideal. This is why those who cling to ideology manifest insanity. They are “clingers” like dingle berries on the anus of humanity.

    And then there are those among us who know all this and more but rather than trying to keep the peace for the general welfare, they pick off the dingle berries and throw them at each other, same as monkeys who throw their shit at each other.

  11. Not Born This Morning
    June 25, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    “Musk sells products that actually work”

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    YOU GO BOY!

    It actually works!!! YEAH!!

    It ACTUALLY works….

    But what the fuck does “actually work” mean?

    Hovercrafts “actually work”. Does that mean everyone wants one? Does it mean that everyone is supposed to buy one? Does it mean that the government “should” waste tax revenue subsiding companies that make them?

    Just because something “actually works” does not mean that it works better or more economically than everything else. NOR, is it justification for imposing it upon the general population via economically propping it up or psychologically propping it up with bullshit.

    Just because someone like to masturbate their ego with an ideal does not mean the rest of us are supposed to go along with it or even like it, or fucking pay for it!

  12. Not Born This Morning
    June 25, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Musk is a priest at the head of a secular religion worshiped by imbeciles, the world has an endless supply. A fool is born every minuet….and spends the rest of its life proving it.

    AD is a pariah because he writes the truth.

    • June 26, 2018 at 11:41 am

      I hate Musk, you and AD… all of you. SpaceX is viable, Tesla is not, Musk’s SJW-ism is not.. and neither is your and ADs malnarc negativitiy…. AD is right like 1/3 of the time, not good enough

      Perhaps, you should read more carefully before commenting. I never said that SpaceX and Tesla Motors were unviable per se. My point was that their real-life impact (technological as well as market share) has been hyped beyond the point of parody. FYI- the market valuation and public perception of both companies is based on those ludicrous hyped dreams, rather than anything close to reality.

      • (((They))) Live
        June 26, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        I’m not sure if Musk is a SJW, he knows (((who))) controls the (((media))), there is not a SJW on the planet who will talk about that little fact. And grew up South Africa, so he knows the truth, people assume he’s an SJW because he sells EVs and Solar PV, a foolish assumption IMO

  13. Not Born This Morning
    June 25, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    “If Whole Foods want to give away free electricity to people, so what, its their money, in any case electricity is cheap, they make money from the drivers shopping at their store, you can expect to see more business letting people charge for “free” if you shop in their store, mall ect.”

    CLINGER ALERT!

    OH!! How Wooondeeeerfuulll. Its all sosss sweeeet. Sooo much people helping people…and the planet to. Group hug. YEAH!!

    Whole Foods caters to VERY FEW, they are very expensive and only the upper middle class can afford them consistently. This is the same class Musk has effectively duped and sold his unsustainable product to. This is also the same socio economic subculture that bred feminism, the hippie movement, scientology, and a plethora of other bullshit. An idle mind is the devils workshop!

    You have your head so far up your ass you can see the back of your teeth….and Musk’s dick head.

    • (((They))) Live
      June 25, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      Keep going, its fact free but its making me laugh, did you forget to take your meds today

      • Not Born This Morning
        June 27, 2018 at 2:09 pm

        Not on meds but I will keep driving my truck which uses much less energy and wastes far less resources to operate than any electric vehicle over time when all factors are considered….power plant fuel, electrical energy loss over transmission lines, cost of battery production and replacement, energy and material costs spent on power generation facility maintenance, transmission line maintenance, energy loss in turbine power generation, transformers, etc, etc, etc…

        The fact is AD is exactly correct. Musk is a con artist. Yes, he sells something that is possible. But possible does not mean economical or sustainable….. or “better”. In the real, world these factors flush out the truth. Not so in the ideal world between many peoples ears where anyone can fake themselves out for as long or as delusional as they choose. This is why Musk is successful. He simply capitalized on an ideal that enough people had already sold themselves regardless if it is realistically an improvement or not.

  14. (((They))) Live
    June 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    You would need a truck that gets well over 100MPG for that claim to be even close to true, you also need to assume that petrol or Diesel just arrives in your fuel thank with no supply chain

    But hey believe why you want, the facts be dammed

  15. marlon
    June 28, 2018 at 8:36 am

    EV promoters,

    Fact: the electric battery is less efficient than the gasoline engine (even taking into account heat losses etc.).

    Hence the EV is much more expensive than the gasoline vehicle (GV).
    Countries such as China, Norway, the US etc. subsidize the EV and even then only a few thousand are sold to the upper middle class.

    If the solid state battery ever comes to fruition (2025 or later) then sales should go up as the solid state battery is less liable to explode and is closer to gasoline’s energy density.

    • P Ray
      June 28, 2018 at 8:39 am

      The battery problem also involves a shortage of cobalt. That’s not going to go away.

  16. (((They))) Live
    June 28, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Sorry Marlon but you’re just wrong, the whole point about the Gasoline/Diesel engine is that the majority of your energy is lost to heat, EVs will be more expensive until battery costs fall under $100 per kWh, after that things will get very interesting, Tesla might be sub $100 now

    P Ray, we used to have a shortage of Lithium, until that turned out to be BS, now we have a shortage of Cobalt, which is strange because the amount of Cobalt used per kWh keeps falling, and it possible to make Lithium-ion batteries without Cobalt, ten years from now the next gen batteries will be very different

    • P Ray
      June 28, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      True, but the different composition of the battery will probably have other side effects.
      There’s no disadvantage without an advantage,
      and no advantage without a disadvantage.

      For example, imagine if the “battery with new composition” takes twice as long to charge, or costs twice as much …

  17. (((They))) Live
    June 28, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Well maybe, but who would spend God knows how many millions working on a new battery that uses a metal or chemical more expensive or rare than Cobalt, I can see it now, the Gold-Platinum battery, 10% better that Lithium-ion at 10 times the cost

    its strange that people think that fuel cells are a great idea, despite the fact that they use Platinum as the catalyst

  18. marlon
    June 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    “Sorry Marlon but you’re just wrong, the whole point about the Gasoline/Diesel engine is that the majority of your energy is lost to heat”

    Yes, most of the energy is lost as heat BUT gasoline has so much more energy than the batteries that it is still more energy efficient than electric batteries.

    (Remember that as AD reminded us EVs aren’t new; they were around in the early days of vehicles and, without subsidies then, faded away for the same reason they are just a rounding error now.

    We haven’t even started on the immense costs of recycling these spent batteries when that time comes).

  1. June 30, 2018 at 5:12 pm

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