The Real Reason Tesla Motors is Still Alive

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News

Robert Pritchett sent me this link to an article by Forbes. Here is an excerpt:

The Real Reason Tesla Is Still Alive (And Other Green Car Companies Aren’t)

Say goodbye to another green car start-up. Vehicle Production Group, which planned to build thousands of wheelchair-accessible vans powered by natural gas, has called it quits. According to Bloomberg, the company ran out of money and couldn’t pay its 100 employees anymore.

Add VPG to the growing list of recent green car failures: Bright Automotive (electric delivery vans) , Carbon Motors (clean diesel-powered police cars), Aptera Motors (three-wheeled electric cars), Coda Automotive (inexpensive electric sedans) and, arguably the most infamous, Fisker Automotive (plug-in hybrid sports cars).

All had applied for financing under a $25 billion U.S. Energy Department loan program to promote development of cleaner cars [...]

That leaves only Tesla Motors TSLA +10.61%, maker of the plug-in Tesla roadster and the new Model S sedan, still standing. Which begs the question: why has Tesla made it when so many others have not?

One reason, of course, is that Tesla’s new Model S sedan — which followed the introductory Roadster — is a very impressive vehicle. Motor Trend and Automobile have showered it with accolades and Consumer Reports just this week issued a rave review, calling it the best vehicle they’ve ever tested. The influential magazine gave the Model S a rating of 99 out of 100 and said it “is brimming with innovation, delivers world-class performance, and is interwoven throughout with impressive attention to detail.”

[...] The Model S has a driving range of between 208 and 265 miles. A full charge takes about six hours from an ordinary 240 volt outlet. The interior is lush, with an enormous 17-inch video touchscreen dominating the center console. [...]

So what’s different about Tesla?

Experience, for one thing. While most of the other green car start-ups were founded by traditional car guys with a dream but little experience running a company, Tesla founder Elon Musk, with degrees in physics and business, had already built and sold one successful company, PayPal, (to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion) and also runs SpaceX, a maker of rockets and spacecraft. He had the stomach to push through difficult times, and the chutzpah to twist the arms of reluctant investors. [...]

You can read the full article at Forbes.

Here is a video about “Tesla aces Consumer Reports testing”

We created a feature page at PESWiki about Tesla Motors back in June, 2006.For several years, we came up as the 2-3 site in a Google search on Tesla Motors. Now we are 14th, when the world now knows about and talks about this company.

This is certainly a good example of a technology that we bird-dogged right.

After posting this story, on May 15, 2013 7:11 AM Mountain, we received the following comment from a colleague of a friend at NASA:

The real reason they got partially correct.

The product is superb and they targeted the right audience.

People buying electric vehicles are all people who can afford to buy whatever they want.

If you make a $20,000 to $25,000 vehicle into an electric vehicle like the volt it will now cost $45,000.

The value proposition is not there.

But if you take a $60,000 vehicle, and you make it electric, it’s now $80,000. This is much more attractive one so it sells.

GM is talking about an electric Cadillac now that would sell.

The other reason is customer service and the ability to manage a business.

Tesla has excellent customer service with free charging stations he’s putting ion around the country. Tesla also hired the right people Elon is not doing this himself. It was largely due to JB Straubel his chief technical officer. JB has been building electric vehicles since he was 14.

From their web site:
The story of JB’s career started at a junkyard in Wisconsin, where, at the age of 14, he discovered a discarded electric golf cart and decided to rebuild it. Thus began a lifelong fascination with energy work and electric vehicles.

As a co-founder of Tesla, JB has overseen the technical and engineering design of the vehicles, focusing on the battery, motor, power electronics, and high-level software sub-systems. Additionally, he evaluates new technology, manages vehicle systems testing, and handles technical interface with key vendors.

Prior to Tesla, JB was the CTO and co-founder of the aerospace firm, Volacom, which designed a specialized high-altitude electric aircraft platform using a novel power plant. At Volacom, JB invented and patented a new long-endurance hybrid electric propulsion concept that was later licensed to Boeing. Before Volacom, JB worked at Rosen Motors as a propulsion engineer developing a new hybrid electric vehicle drivetrain based on a micro turbine and a high-speed flywheel. JB was also part of the early team at Pentadyne, where he designed and built a first-generation 150kW power inverter, motor-generator controls, and magnetic bearing systems.

Armed with a bachelor’s in energy systems engineering and an master’s in energy engineering from Stanford University, JB left the cold winters of Wisconsin for good. He now lives in Menlo Park, Calif., where he continues to indulge his passion for electric transportation: he built an electric Porsche 944 that held a world EV racing record, a custom electric bicycle, and a pioneering hybrid trailer system. JB is also an accomplished pilot.

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