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Thread: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

  1. #21
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    Jan 2007

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

    Quote Originally Posted by lektrode View Post
    thats not entirely true, mr don - altho it takes some major adjustments to ones energy-use profile - it CAN be done (esp in places that have LOTS of hours of sunshine and it doesnt get too hot or cold...)
    I left out the Hawaiian Exception!

    My bad.

  2. #22
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    Jan 2007

    Default Musk Infomercial - Book & Review?

    a savior for our very souls . . . .

    “We’ve become a nation of indoor cats,” Dave Eggers wrote in “A Hologram for the King” (2012), his existential novel about an American doing IT work in the Saudi Arabian desert. “A nation of doubters, worriers, overthinkers.”

    Ashlee Vance, in his new biography of the celebrity industrialist Elon Musk, delivers a similar notion of the deflating American soul. An early Facebook engineer tells Mr. Vance, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.” The author quotes the venture capitalist Peter Thiel: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”

    If Silicon Valley was holding out for a hero after Steve Jobs’s death, a disrupter in chief, it has found a brawny one in Mr. Musk. This South African-born entrepreneur, inventor and engineer is the animating force behind companies (Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity) that have made startling advances in non-indoor-cat arenas: electric cars, space exploration and solar energy. He is all of 43.

    Mr. Musk is about as close as we have, circa 2015, to early industrial titans like Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Along with his swagger, he totes surprise, style and wit. Tesla’s Model S sedan was not only Motor Trend’s car of the year in 2013 — the first non-internal-combustion engine vehicle to win that award — but it also has a sound system that, in a homage to the film “Spinal Tap,” you can turn up to 11.

    “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” isn’t the first biography we’ve had of Mr. Musk, nor will it be the last. But it is easily the richest to date. It’s also the first one Mr. Musk has cooperated with, though he had no control, the author says, over its contents. Mr. Vance is a technology writer for Bloomberg Businessweek. He won over Mr. Musk, who initially declined to be interviewed, impressing him with his diligence after he had interviewed some 200 people.

    The result is a book that is smart, light on its feet and possesses a crunchy thoroughness. Mr. Vance can occasionally veer toward hagiography and the diction of news releases. After noting that Mr. Musk’s grand vision is to colonize Mars, for example, Mr. Vance writes:

    “He’s the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has ever concocted. He’s less a C.E.O. chasing riches than a general marshaling troops to secure victory. Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you share baby photos, Musk wants to ... well ... save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation.” As the Beast from “X-Men” likes to remark, Oh my stars and garters.

    Mostly, though, Mr. Vance curbs his enthusiasm and delivers a well-calibrated portrait of Mr. Musk, so that we comprehend both his friends and his enemies. It’s a book with many ancillary pleasures. Mr. Vance brings us up to date on the states of green energy and space launches. He also veers away from his subject just often enough, offering profiles of the frequently brilliant people who work alongside Mr. Musk.

    Bits from this biography have already made Internet gossip ripples. According to Mr. Vance, Mr. Musk berated a male employee who missed a Tesla event to be present for the birth of his child. (Mr. Musk has denied this.) Either way, he does not come off like Alan Alda. He has been married three times — twice to the same woman — and, while thinking about fitting a new relationship into his schedule, he asks: “How much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours?”

    Other eye-popping details, not all of them previously reported, are flecked atop this book like sea salt. His five children don’t merely have nannies but have had a nanny manager. He worries that Google is building a fleet of robots that may accidentally destroy mankind. He rents castles and sumo wrestlers for his parties. At one of them, a knife thrower aimed at a balloon between the blindfolded Mr. Musk’s legs.

    The best thing Mr. Vance does in this book, though, is tell Mr. Musk’s story simply and well. It’s the story of an intelligent man, for sure. But more so it is the story of a determined one. Mr. Musk’s work ethic has always been intense. One observer says about him early on, “We all worked 20 hour days, and he worked 23 hours.”

    Mr. Musk was born in 1971 and grew up in Pretoria. His father was an engineer; his mother, whose family had roots in the United States and Canada, was a model and dietitian. There are indications his father was brutal, and that Mr. Musk is a tortured soul trying to make up for a wrecked childhood. But no one will speak specifically about any such events.

    He attended college in Canada before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and moving to the West Coast. His first start-up, a company that provided maps and business directories, was bought by Compaq Computer and made Mr. Musk $22 million. His interest in online banking led to his part in the creation of PayPal. When it was sold to eBay, he walked away with roughly $250 million, the author says, enough to bankroll his interests in space and green technology.

    Mr. Musk got started in space exploration by first learning all he could about it, sometimes reading Soviet-era rocket manuals. There were many failures, and several near-bankruptcies, along the way to making SpaceX what it is today, notably the only private company to have docked with the International Space Station.

    Mr. Vance tells the stories of both SpaceX and Tesla with intricacy and insight, often stuffing the technological details, for those who are interested, into long footnotes. We come less close to Mr. Musk himself. Though the author interviewed him for several dozen hours, he remains a remote and somewhat chilly figure, a perfectionist not unlike Mr. Jobs, often given to confrontation and fits of rage.

    What does come through is a sense of legitimate wonder at what humans can accomplish when they aim high, and aim weird.

    The animosity and jealousy some feel toward Mr. Musk’s achievements put me in mind of a great line from the HBO show “Silicon Valley,” in which the tech chief executive Gavin Belson comments, “I don’t know about you people, but I wouldn’t want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place than we do.”

    Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
    By Ashlee Vance
    392 pages. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $28.99.

  3. #23
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    Apr 2006

    Default Re: Musk Infomercial - Book & Review?

    Do I need to say anything else...?

  4. #24
    GRG55's Avatar
    GRG55 is online now iTulip High Commissioner, Select Premium Member, Canada and Persian Gulf
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    May 2007

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

    Quote Originally Posted by thriftyandboringinohio View Post
    I think that selling challenge can be managed by Musk et al.
    If he keeps his hard claims near the truth, and uses puffery and showmanship to sell the sizzle, it can work.
    It won't only be advertized by Musk. We will get inserts in our monthly power bills offering one. The evening news will have a few segments talking about them. The banks will run promotions for the loans to buy them.

    Joe sixpack likes the idea of minimum backup power for his aquarium and refrigerator; that's what drives the big market in home standby generators that Generac and Kohler sell at Home Depot and Lowes.

    Jeep sells him a Cherokee with images of people off-roading in the rugged back country mountains of Utah. Joe knows he'll never do that, but likes to think of himself as the kind of guy who might. Everything Joe buys is sold that way -his tires show supermodels touching them, his take-home fried chicken shows an idyllic family dinner. I just bought a Hyundai Sonata and it has paddle shifters. I guess that's so when my cheap, under-powered family sedan is screaming down the back stretch at top speed and I enter the chicane, I can keep both hands on the wheel as I steer for the apex.

    We have all been trained to automatically expect less to be delivered than was promised, and just accept that our paddle shifters, off-road suspensions, and commercial quality stoves are a waste of our money. But we find them cool.

    If Joe six pack gets through a 36 hour blackout with a bit of power, and sees that $15 credit on his bill every month, that's par for the course and he'll be pretty happy. Especially when, during the blackout, he gets to gloat to the engineer next door who told Joe it was a waste of money.
    There appears much more to this than merely creating a "need" through advertising.

    Musk, and his target market of generally affluent consumers, are the product of an increasingly popular meme that government is incapable of doing anything right. The official story line is the bailed out American car companies are "Government Motors" living off their legacy SUVs and completely uninterested in the future of the automobile, NASA is a bloated bureaucracy of incompetents no longer able to build a vehicle to support the Space Station (much less put a man on Mars), and your local power utility can't be depended to keep the lights on.

    I spent some time in Nigeria last decade. In at least one of my older posts from that time I characterized the place as "the ultimate capitalistic economy". If you want reliable electric power in Lagos you better have your own generator and some sort of secure sources for your fuel. If you want reliable telephone service you need a satellite dish on the roof. If you want the street in front of your home to be passable during the rainy season you yourself will need to arrange to have that section paved. Nobody depends on the government to provide them with anything. Government agencies are seen to exist to take, not provide; a lesson that is reinforced with the required "gratuity" necessary to continue your journey every time your vehicle is stopped by a policeman.

    Utilities used to be entities that provided a reliable, affordable public service; invariably owned, or regulated by government in exchange for market monopoly. I wonder if we are all headed towards becoming "self-sufficient" Nigerians, how the higher up someone is in government the more they can take, and how that will play into Musk et al's business plans?

    P.S. For the record, the steering wheel paddles on my Government Motors pickup truck make no pretense about ensuring the optimal gear to power through a corner. They merely change the radio station (L) and adjust the volume (R).
    Last edited by GRG55; 05-18-15 at 10:44 AM.

  5. #25
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    Apr 2010

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

    Quote Originally Posted by GRG55 View Post
    P.S. For the record, the steering wheel paddles on my Government Motors pickup truck make no pretense about ensuring the optimal gear to power through a corner. They merely change the radio station (L) and adjust the volume (R).
    hell - i WISH i still had MY chevy (vs the subaru she bought me..)

  6. #26
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    Jan 2010
    Northern, VA.

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

  7. #27
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    Jan 2007

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

    Last week, following the latest abysmal (if only in GAAP terms) quarter for Tesla, we showed what we thought was without a doubt the most important chart for the company that has taken "story" to the next level: its cash flow, or lack thereof, and the stunning observation that in just the first six months of 2015, Tesla burned $1.1 billion in cash. Its current cash levels? Just $1.2 billion more.

    The problem, judging by the collapse in its stock price after its Q2 earnings, others are starting to notice too, such as Reuters. And now that the growth "story" has taken a back seat following the latest guidance cut in deliveries, fears that the company will have to dilute shareholders to keep the "story" afloat, are rapidly emerging. Case in point, Reuters calculation of a fact that was known to most observers but certainly not to retail enthusiasts who "bought the stock just because others bought the stock", i.e., that Tesla loses about $4000 on every car it makes.

    The Silicon Valley automaker is losing more than $4,000 on every Model S electric sedan it sells, using its reckoning of operating losses, and it burned $359 million in cash last quarter in a bull market for luxury vehicles. The company on Wednesday cut its production targets for this year and next. Chief Executive Elon Musk said he's considering options to raise more capital, and didn't rule out selling more stock.

    Musk has taken investors on a thrill ride since taking Tesla public in 2010. Now he's given himself a deadline, promising that by the first quarter of 2016 Tesla will be making enough money to fund a jump from making one expensive, low volume car to mass producing multiple models, and expanding a venture to manufacture electric power storage systems.

    Now that might be tricky, because unless like AMZN, Tesla has a seriously underestimated source of profitability (we have yet to hear of the Tesla Cloud), the company has just pigeonholed itself and is willing to trade off its growth "story" for cash burn. Which with nearly virtual certainty, results in about a 30-50% cut to forward multiples.

    Another glass of cold water for TSLA fanboys are comparisons to GM, whose market cap of $50 billion was recently seen as within reach of Tesla. There are, however, some notable differences:

    GM sells more than 9 million vehicles a year, while Tesla plans to build between 50,000 and 55,000 cars this year. Tesla, most of whose cars are built to order directly, delivered 11,532 cars in the second period and said it had an operating loss of about $47 million, for an operating loss per car of about $4,000. Tesla's narrower margin for error is just one more way in which it is different from its century old rivals.

    So if the car, pardon, battery, pardon hyperloop market can't "grow" into every possible direction its visionary founder wants it to, on the back of unprecednted cash burn, just how will TSLA grow, or rather shrink, into its balance sheet?

    The company said it plans $1.5 billion in capital spending this year, mainly to launch its Model X, battery powered sport utility vehicle with eye-catching, vertical-opening "falcon wing" doors. Tesla reported $831 million in capital spending during the first half of the year, indicating it will spend roughly another $700 million.

    During the second quarter, Tesla said operating costs and research and development spending rose, while average selling prices for the Model S lineup, which starts at $70,000 before federal and state electric vehicle tax breaks, fell 1 percent as the mix of sales shifted to less expensive models and a strong dollar hit revenue generated overseas. The Model S comes in several different versions, ranging in price up to $106,000 or more, depending on options.

    Elon Musk's - and TSLA shareholders' - hope is that Tesla capital spending will plunge next year because the company won't be spending on a major vehicle launch. In 2017, Tesla plans to launch its Model 3 line, which the company says will start at about $35,000 and push total sales toward the goal of 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020.

    However, Barclays analyst Brian Johnson disagreed with the company's estimates, and said he expects Tesla's capital spending will go up in 2016 and 2017 as the company ramps up its battery factory and Model 3 development. "Their small scale means the cash generation is not as great as they might have hoped for," he said.

    Worse, as noted top, at the current cash burn rate, TSLA can only fund just two more quarters of cash burn at which point, and most likley well before it, the company will have to aggressively raise new capital.

    Sure enough, Musk said this week Tesla expects to have $1 billion in cash over the next year, and told analysts "there may be some value" in raising capital "as a risk reduction measure."

    Some more troubling comparisons: Tesla's stock is still about 70 percent higher than it was two years ago, and 8 percent ahead of its level on Jan 1. With a market capitalization of $31 billion, Tesla is worth more than Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the much larger maker of Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees.

    "A capital raise, given the way they're burning cash today, given the fact that they have future investment needs, seems very likely at some point," said UBS Securities analyst Colin Langan, who has a sell rating on the stock.

    Reuters reminds us that Musk has steered Tesla out of tight corners before. In September 2012, the company faced a cash crunch, but raised money by selling shares and renegotiating the terms of a federal loan. The Model S started production in mid-2012. And let's not forget the infamous February 2014 "incident", when Morgan Stanley underwrote a massive $1.6 billion convertible for TSLA the day after it more than doubled its TSLA stock price target: a move which would be grounds for a criminal probe in any country not controlled by Wall Street.

    Which brings us back to our favorite topic about TSLA: GAAP vs non-GAAP, and a divergence that should inspire at least one FASB probe into the farce that Tesla's financials have become. Presenting exhibits A and B:


    ... and Revenue (yes, non-GAAP revenue, which is now flat since December 31, 2014):

    Finally the mainstream media has finally figured this out too:

    Tesla reports its finances in a different way from the Detroit automakers. Using the generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, used by GM or Ford, Tesla's operating losses per vehicle have steadily widened to $14,758 from $3,794 in the second quarter of 2014.

    But Tesla points out in its statements to investors that its GAAP accounting excludes certain revenue and profits from Model S sedans that customers lease. In the second quarter, the deferred gross profits from Model S leases amounted to $61.9 million, Tesla said. Analysts say they add back the deferred revenue to make Tesla's figures more comparable to the reporting used by other automakers.

    If more start pointing out that the car-making emperor's clothes are made out of non-GAAP thread, as we have since 2012, things Musk will go sour very quickly. In fact, we will conclude with Reuters' own assessment of the situation in gratitude that at least one media outlet finally admitted what we have been saying since 2013: "It's crunch time for Tesla Motors."


    They make it up on volume. Why lose a little when you can lose a lot?

    Beat analysts' expectations of a loss of $10,000 per vehicle.

    Not everybody can be Government Motors.....

    stealth bailouts have been verbally approved by both parties prior to building the battery factory

  8. #28
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    Jan 2010
    Northern, VA.

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

    Audi to unveil 310 mpg electric SUV:

  9. #29

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? A provocative work on energy storage

    Quote Originally Posted by vt View Post
    Audi to unveil 310 mpg electric SUV:
    That's 310 mile range, not MPG.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Is Tesla toast? Audi & Porsche Might Think So

    FRANKFURT — The high-performance electric car market is shaping up to be a high-profile battleground featuring some of the world's most glamorous brands after Porsche and Audi unveiled models to challenge U.S. pioneer Tesla Motors.

    Consumers have largely shunned electric vehicles because of their high price tags and limited driving range, as well as the scarcity of charging stations, though many analysts predict sales will rise sharply by the end of the decade.

    Tesla, however, has enjoyed success and managed to stay ahead of the pack with new technology, which has extended driving range and reduced costs.

    Germany's Audi and Porsche - Volkswagen's two premium flagships - showcased purely battery-powered cars at the Frankfurt auto show on Monday.

    The impact on Tesla is not clear cut, according to analysts. As two of the world's most sought-after auto brands, they represent heavyweight competition for the attention of wealthy, environmentally conscious buyers. But they also boost the credibility and cachet of the all-electric market, which could benefit Tesla.

    "It will certainly sharpen the public focus on electric vehicles and raise overall awareness. Consumers are also set to gain from growing offerings of electric cars, especially in the performance segment," said Commerzbank analyst Sascha Gommel.

    Audi unveiled its e-tron quattro sport-utility concept - its first electric model designed for series production - and Porsche its first-ever battery-powered sports car in Frankfurt.

    Neither car will be available to buy until around 2018, but the launches are perhaps aimed at stealing the limelight from Tesla's first luxury electric crossover, the Model X, ahead of its planned start of deliveries on Sept. 29.

    Audi had initial misgivings over whether to launch dedicated electric vehicles, a reticence which some analysts said risked making them look like a laggard in an industry where innovation is a major draw for customers.


    The all-electric venture represents a change of course for Audi, which had previously focused on developing electric variants of existing models such as its two-seater R8 sports car rather than committing to serial production like German rival BMW with its "i" brand electric series.

    While the two car brands did not reveal many specifics about their models, they are set to match Tesla - whose prices start at around $77,000 - in the crucial driving range department.

    Audi said its e-tron quattro, to be launched by 2018, would have over 500 km (311 miles) per charge. That compares with about 300 miles for Tesla's new Model S P90D saloon, which is already getting rave media reviews.

    Porsche also boasts over 500 km of range with its first all-electric concept sports car, two sources close to the company said, adding that it was roomier than the 911 and predicting a market launch in 2018-19.

    "The largest challenge set forth by Tesla against all entrants into the pure electric market is that the benchmarks have already been set, and the bar is rather high," said Ivan Drury, senior manager at U.S. automotive website

    "The fascination with Tesla is not that they were the first to introduce an all-electric vehicle, it stems more from the first electric vehicle without compromise to styling, performance metrics and range," Drury said.

    Audi has paid heed with the electric R8 which it dropped in 2012 due to poor range but revived earlier this year after doubling the range to 450 km.

    The German brands may rapidly close the gap with Tesla on engine and battery technology, said Laurent Petizon, an automotive consultant with AlixPartners.

    Audi and Porsche can make "a better car than Tesla in terms of driving experience, balance, suspension and road handling", Petizon added.
    "They have been doing it for 100 years and it's their job."

  11. #31
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    Jan 2007

    Default Re: Is Tesla toast? Audi & Porsche Might Think So

    Elon Musk says Apple is the 'graveyard' for fired Tesla staff

    Outspoken Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has poked fun at Apple, saying his employees refer to the tech company as the “Tesla graveyard”.

    Dismissing claims that Apple is poaching key members of staff from his own firm to work on its long-rumoured self-driving car project, Musk said: “Important engineers? They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard’.

    “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”

    Musk, whose company last week unveiled the Model X, its first SUV, was speaking to German newspaper Handelsblatt. When asked whether or not he took Apple seriously as a competitor in the automotive market, Musk replied, laughing: “Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?”

    He added: “No, seriously: it’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: ‘Build me a car.’

    “But for Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough.”

    Apple’s project to create its own self-driving car is fast becoming one of the worst-kept secrets in Silicon Valley. Although the company has never confirmed that it is working on a vehicle, documents uncovered by the Guardian in August showed that it was seeking space to test its cars in private, looking to secure a 2,100 acre former naval base near San Francisco for that purpose. In September, the company met with California officials to review the state’s autonomous vehicle regulations.

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