back to article NYT scribe: No bailout for Tesla-buying 'centimillionaires*'

A New York Times columnist has launched an attack on the idea of electrocar poster-child firm Tesla Motors receiving "bailout" federal loans, saying that the company's products are toys for the super-rich. Tesla says that the only reason it wants the government money is to finance the production of more affordable cars; the …

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No return?

It's a loan, they'll be charged interest.

Also, £70k for a car isn't exactly "billionaires only" territory. Okay, it's out of the loan-free grasp of the majority of people, but certainly not impossible for a decent % of them to buy with the aid of a loan.

I think the NYT's guy is hoping that his odd interpretation of Moore's Law applies to photovoltaics as well (some of them are based on silicon too, so it must! It's true!). Which would make it viable to have a viable (given El Reg's figures on their efficiencies) solar car in... ooh... 8 years? Say 10 for one that'll get by in an Aberdonian december without having to sacrifice some heating and a CD player for sitting in traffic.

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Flame

More BULLSHIT!

"For households that install their own power-generating solar panels, electric cars can rightfully claim to attain truly zero emissions today," he writes.

Bollocks.

They can claim 'zero emissions' once the tree-huggers have recouped the equivalent 'emissions' costs of production, delivery and installation of their 'renewable' power sources and whizzo electric car.

Then, and ONLY then.

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Stop

Agreed

"...that the company's products are toys for the super-rich...." I agree entirely. Even the "affordable" model will only be affordable to Americans and the richer Europeans, and therefore entirely irrelevant to the rest of the world. Successful models are far more likely to come from China or India, where they have a slightly more realistic perspective on these matters.

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Dead Vulture

hecamillionaires?

I do believe you mean hecto-millionaires.

He, being both a historian and an American, probably just has no idea about the SI prefix scheme and automatically went for the Latin.

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silly millionaires

surely we should pump money into alternatively powered vehicles while we still have oil to burn? I mean, there is coming a time, none too distant, when petrol driven vehicles will be a great deal more expensive to run than an electric one surely?

Think also on this concept. Could I afford it I would do thusly;

1) live in a nice warm place with some land attached to the house

2) Put up a wind turbine or two

3) Install some solar panels

4) Buy a Tesla vehicle

5) Generate enough leccy to power the buggah and my home

6) Pay no Man no money to do my travelling ('cept taxes and the like but you know) and have the carbon footprint of a petite shoe size pixie!

This is good isn't it? But wait.....I wonder how many of those gazillionaires make their ready stuff off the back of said dinosaur-juice? Hmmmmm

At the moment I ride a bike and do what i can afford to do for the environment but I say folks like Tesla are at least paving the way to affordable and workable leccy cars...how long ago were folks saying that an electric car which could match it's dinosaur powered brethren in performance was also a pipe dream? And now....?

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Flame

Tesla shouldn't get a bailout

Because they have roughly the credibility level of Moller's Skycars. It's just a Lotus with a battery and an electric motor - and after god knows how much money and god knows how many missed deadlines they haven't even managed to make any of those.

If ever a company deserved to crash and burn (or crash and fzzzzzzzrt) it's Tesla Motors.

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Centi- ?

That'll be centi- as in centipede, not as in centimetre. "Business Professor", clearly not a scientist then.

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Boffin

Assumptions

The 40mile commute assumption is interesting. In the seemingly inevitable energy poor future, who will be able to afford to live 40miles away from work? Many aspects of our lives will have to change, long commutes being just one of them.

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Joke

Ahem

"Whoops. You probably mean hecamillionaire, Mr Stross. A centimillionaire would, of course, be unable to afford a $100k Roadster."

Does that mean a centipede only has one hundredth of a leg? Should it be called a hecapede?

If you believe "centi" to mean "one hundredth of", as in centimetre being a hundredth of a metre, then you must also believe "milli" means "one thousandth of", as in millimetre. In which case, a "millionaire" must own one thousandth of a pound, ergo a hecamillionaire must own, by your logic, a hundred one-thousandths of a pound, or 10 pence.

Or something.

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Tom
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Personally, I'm with the people who figure

the totalitarians have figured out that tree-hugging is a quicker route to getting us to give up our liberties, but that being said, if you accept the premise that we need to create non-petrol based modes of transportation, and you accept that this important enough for government to re-order free market priorities you still wind up with NYT types being about 12 donuts short of the bakers dozen. Tesla applied for an existing program to commoditize their "carbon free" car that the government now wants to yank to save the manufacturers of the gasoline oriented industry. Tesla is right, NYT is wrong. If the government insists on bailing out the dying three, (and let's be honest, if you want non-petrol based cars, they have to die out) it should do so without changing the rules about money that has already been allocated.

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Paris Hilton

*Whoops indeed

You probably mean hectamillionaire or decimillionaire

Hecamillion = 6,000,000

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Coat

Fast PR response

Oddly these stories all came a day after a blog posting by the boss of Tesla saying that $25Bn in grants to develop advanced transport technology that were promised in Sept shouldn't be redirected to bailout Detroit.

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Coat

Centimillionaire?

A person with a million cents?

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Boffin

Confused

Is el Reg in support of tesla in this one. normally you seem against them.

personal if the US won't back them lets invite tesla to the uk to build his "affordable car" don't get me wrong i'm a petrol head i go to the grand prix and the sound of a v8 engine it beatiful . and if i had 150'00 grand i'd by down aston martin like a shot to get me some of that beauty not to mention that servicing an engine can be quite focusing and relaxing.

but on the other hand i have two 35 minute drives a day and my top speed of about 65 most days 70 on good day if i had a cheap electric car i could do that in then fine i'd save my petrol aston for the weekends or long drives

not to mention it would create jobs that we need right now.

i now expect to be most hated man here for suggesting an electric car could be a good thing

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Treehuggers

Why to some, shall we say, people of narrow judgement, is anyone who actually cares about the consequences of what they do a tree-hugger may i ask? Deferred guilt perhaps?

Ie, so called treehuggers highlight the badness of non-embracers of arbors and thus, make them look bad......like certain people in the Deep South of the US who hate the darker skinned folks around them because they are so often fat and lazy job-shy people, while their objects of aggression are not? I wonder.

Tell me what's wrong with electric vehicles and using renewable sources of energy please. Please tell me concisely and succinctly. Advise me of the long lasting legacy and pollutants these will create as equals of oil etc......less than 1000 words, thanks

either that or wind your neck in and stop being a foolish reactionary who gets upset by people who don't thing like you do.

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@Adam Foxton

"Also, £70k for a car isn't exactly "billionaires only" territory. Okay, it's out of the loan-free grasp of the majority of people, but certainly not impossible for a decent % of them to buy with the aid of a loan."

Loans... Ah, yes... Isn't that where we started all of this crunch mullarkey?

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ooops

i meant "don't think like you do" obviously *blush*

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Stross seems to have it all wrong....

Funny, I didn't read anywhere in the Reg's article where Tesla was asking for bailout money. I read that what Tesla "would like is money under the US Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) scheme, set up in September to encourage fuel-efficient cars". Presumeably GM, Ford, and Chrysler are also eligable for some of this money.

I also read that "there are now plans by some in Washington to shift the ATVM tech-encouragement funds into a bailout plan for America's big-iron motor mammoth companies", Tesla is not (yet) a member of "America's big-iron motor mammoth companies".

Stross's statements do not appear to be congruent with the information published in the article.

The Roadster is approaching profitability, so I'm sure that Tesla will use some of that profit for additional engineering research. The ATVM Loan (whose funds have not yet been co-opted for bailout of the big three) would simply help grease the wheels, so to speak.

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Happy

Comprehension.

Dear Treehugger Fisher.

If, perchance, you are referring to my comment (and I suspect you may be), then I humbly suggest you go back and read it again, and again, until you comprehend it properly.

This was not an attack on electric vehicles or 'renewable' energy sources per say. I was simply pointing out the wanton inaccuracy of the statement; "For households that install their own power-generating solar panels, electric cars can rightfully claim to attain truly zero emissions today," since, IMHO, until said items are produced in the elusive 'zero emissions' manner, then I don't believe that they can truly be attributed with the term 'zero emissions'.

Please note the following link;

http://www.screwfix.com/prods/10522/Access-Storage/Platform-Steps/Platform-Step-Ladder-4-Tread

This item should prove invaluable in assisting your descent from your high horse.

I would hate for you to fall and injure yourself.

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Paris Hilton

Hydrocarbons rock

Why do the majority of the cars on the road still return far less than 40 miles per gallon? Why is eking out the fossil fuel we have longer not an option? Price gas guzzlers off the road.

I agree with the thrust of the article that there is bleep all prospect of batteries getting near the performance necessary to fuel cars as we know and use them. Pie in the hydrogen sky options don't add up either - even assuming a future abundance of cheap electricity from nuclear power stations.

Hydrocarbons from a (yet to be determined) biofuel source I believe will prove a more viable option in the medium to long term. It will likely still be very expensive - but it's entirely practical to push internal combustion engine cars efficiency up further. Otherwise we are looking at public pantographs everywhere.

Paris - because she is almost as hot as the heat lost recharging my laptop's lithium batts :-(

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Heart

@ dervheid

It's "per se". It's Latin.

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Treehugger and proud of it @dervheid

I doubt that ANYTHING can be manufactured emmission free my friend but my point is thus; you manufacture these items, you use them, they cease to emit. You drill up oil, you use it, it emits and emits.

Simple law of squares no?

Anything which casn help to reduce emmissions is a good thing and, the more people use these alternatives, the lower the emmissions, the greater the pressure to reduce any emmissions, general badness producing them creates....ie a step in the right direction, no matter how small, is still a step in the right direction.

And don't you come knocking at my sustainably powered dream house and sustainably powered dream car once the oil runs out eh?

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Boffin

As someone who does R&D at a battery company

I can assure everyone out there that believing that Moore's Law applies to batteries is a prescription for bankruptcy.

I'd also like to remind folks that Moore's Law is only a historic observation. It is not based on any physical principles.

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@Adam Foxton

"Which would make it viable to have a viable (given El Reg's figures on their efficiencies) solar car in... ooh... 8 years?"

The problem is, we're dealing with *efficiency* here, not pure output. Once you have 100% efficiency, there is no higher that you can go without breaking some fundamental laws of physics.

There's only so much sunlight that can fall on a hiven area at a given latitude at a given time of year. That's all you have to work with, and if that ain't enough, it ain't enough!

AFAIK, photovoltaics have terrible efficiency, somewhere around 10%. So, we could (in theory) get about ten times more than The Reg's figures. Of course, it will never be that high - some more laws of physics intervene.

And then there's the issue of storing energy while your car is at work, so you can recharge it later. There will be losses involved in charging up and discharging this storage medium (chemical battery, hydrogen, flywheel, whatever.)

But since the theoretical maximum is so much higher than what we have now, it's tempting to think that, with just a few dozen more massive technological leaps, a practical solar-powered car will be possible.

Until it rains for three days straight. And I believe rain is fairly common in England.

Oh, and Scotland? You're hosed!

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@Stuart Van Onselen

"Oh, and Scotland? You're hosed!"

But then we've got all the wind power we want - as long as the tree-huggers don't stop the developments because it spoils the skyline....

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Boffin

My plan for the UK

Is to install a bloody great water tank on my roof and fit a water wheel to generate leccy off of it to power my Tesla 7 seater....

Which should be available about the same time I finish saving up the money to buy it (turn of the century -- bugger!!).

Has anyone ever worked out the cost per kilowatt based on using the standard tap pressure to move the water up to the roof??? Just in case we have a drought and it doesnt rain enough to fill the 1,000 gallon tank every day!!!!!

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Boffin

How much solar energy from the roof

Article says:

A "typical" 20 square metres of home solar panels might generate as much as four or five kWh each day.

That would depend where you live. Tesla motors is located just a few deka-miles from my house where I have 34.8 m^2 of solar panels which yielded 9180 kWh in their first year of operation (average 25 kWh/day) and 8403 kWh in their second (average 23 kWh/day ... reduced yield partly caused by a broken inverter for ~3 weeks in February, and also by the local wildfires filling the sky with smoke for many days in July and dropping a layer of ash on the panels).

Scaling down the crappy 2nd year figures to 20 m^2 still gives an average of 13.2 kWh/day

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@Tony Luck

Hmmm, is there by any chance an empty lot near you I can buy cheap? Up north where I live we're lucky to see the sun at all in the winter. But wind power has possibilities...

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@ Ian Johnston

" It's just a Lotus with a battery and an electric motor...."

Careful dear, your prejudices are showing. What is the big "no" about a battery and electric motor? Haven't you ever seen one of those before? Don't forget the electronics, there is a fair wedge of that stuff in there too.

The usual mistakes are being made here - EVs are an early technology, we're quite reasonably having to take some steps backwards with things like range and refuelling. Does Mr Johnston think that the modern car was in existence from day one?

We are witnessing the start for practical EVs in the same way that our ancestors would have seen the precursors to the Model T Ford. In years to come battery powered EVs will be commonplace, and our travel patterns may well reflect the technology of the day, just as it did with ICE vehicles in years gone by.

What is for certain is that the ICE industry has to die, it has had its day and no further progress is possible or reasonable given our global circumstances. But it will not go without a fight, and it has powerful vested interests and powers of lobby in all major governments. So it will likely be a long, lingering and slow demise.

Meanwhile, the more agile and commercially viable EV manufacturers will be filling in the gaps and establishing themselves.

Flames: Not at Mr J at all but because we cannot burn our way into the future anymore!

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Stop

maybe in Europe

A fuel-driven car that costs $35000 in the States would cost at least three times as much in Norway given the current tax-regime.

And electric cars are not taxed at all. (Except for VAT, but then the annual road fee does not apply I think)

But the biggest problems are:

* Handling (Norway's winter roads require a SAAB)

* Capacity (you need room for spare tire, a big dog, two kids and the missus)

* Range (that cabin up in the mountains that your family have... the one without plumbing or electricity...? Long drive!)

* Safety (hit a moose, and you are almost certainly dead, unless you drive the aforementioned SAAB -- the only car manufacturer who test their cars for moose impact, I kid you not)

A fresh startup has absolutely no knowledge about these things. The Germans have made cars for a century, and even they are n00bs when it comes to extreme driving conditions. Opel/Vauxhall is coming along since they have borrowed a lot of technology from SAAB (atleast the frame they are built on has been constructed per SAAB's specifications, so they can finally withstand some abuse other German cars can't). Why is this relevant for the rest of Europe? Because sometimes... Sometimes people will test the limits in cars not designed to be tested that way. Like that Austrian politician flipping over in his VW. Had he not been right-wing, he might've chosen a more sensible car, like a SAAB, and he would still be alive now. (SAABs do not flip over easily, and if they do -- the driver will still walk away from the accident)

Electric cars? Hmm, no go. Atleast not for a main vehicle. And for a secondary car, it then again becomes a question of price...

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Go

@Rune Moberg

Saab Saab Saab can you Saab Saab in a Saab? I Saab that a Saab Saab might be Saab Saab the Saab ;)

/Saab?

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hmmm

I can mount a mini wind turbine on my bike (not motorbike but bike bike) and, on an average journey (10 miles home to work) get enough power from it to max out my phone, ipod, gps and pda......ok I live in Ireland so wind is a plentiful resource here by the sea....so good economy there, I'm even planning to rig some rechargeable lights to it perhaps....fully sustainable transport but no so good on the keeping warm front....but shows how a bit of will and inventiveness can make anything work....

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Credibility.

"Because they have roughly the credibility level of Moller's Skycars."

Unlike GM you mean, which, through a combination of greed and appalling management lost $38Billion recently? And is now asking for $25B 'loan' (which no one will ever see again likely) to keep going?

My money's on the electric guys.

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Centi or Heca

Strictly speaking neither is correct (that is if you see SI as being the standard) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_prefix

Centi = 1/100

Heca doesn't exist, could it be Hecto? = 100 x

Someone just about capable of purchasing a Tesla is thus a Deci-Millionaire (i.e. 1/10 of 1,000,000 = 100,000)

And according to this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millionare#Terminology) centi-millionaire is an Americanism, so it's understandable ... seeing as it's an American who said it.

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"Simple law of squares no?"

Eh...no.

You seem to be forgetting that almost all raw materials for manufacturing (excluding the minuscule fraction that we currently recycle) have to be

Dug Out Of The Ground.

You are correct in one respect. Fossil fuels will run out. Eventually.

Then we're onto the biofuel for the diesel. NOT, I hasten to add, based on corn, palm or any other such 'food or fuel' source.

Nope. It'll have to be the algae farms, I believe.

And it's out with the chainsaw for your beloved trees. The petrolheads will need them for bio-ethanol.

Proudly adding to "Global Warming" (if you believe that mince) since 1962

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Smells of pay off

Governments give money for loads of projects (can we remember all the money given to the Telcoms for faster internet), at least this is money that will go to improving the technology for "green" cars. Something that will benefit everyone and probably won't happen without financial assistance until oil becomes even more expensive (which they keep low to prevent this from happening).

This guy who's against it is probably being payed by the automotive and petrol industries.

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Stop

I don't care if it IS "only" $35K

It's way the hell more than i can afford in a vehicle. I suppose there are plenty of folks who MIGHT; or are willing to go into debt up to they eyebrows, but NO THANKS.

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Return On Investment

Seems to me more likely that Tesla Motors would actually generate a better return on investment than GM.

GM has been hating on the electric vehicle for the better part of a hundred years, starting with buying up electric street car systems to replace with internal combustion buses. Then they had the EV-1, a program designed to prove there was no market for electric cars.

Now they have the Volt, which they promote as being able to go 40 miles on a charge. Forty miles on a charge when they slammed the EV-1 for having a range of 120 miles, and they've advertised the Volt for months barely mentioning it's a hybrid and can travel beyond 40 miles a trip.

Are these the actions of a company wanting to sell electric cars?

Would GM have survived the last ten years without tax incentives for buying trucks and SUVs?

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@Danny Thompson

I've nothing against electric cars. On the contrary - if they made a G-Wiz with 60+ mile range (I live in the countryside) I'd be queuing up to buy one.

It's this particular bunch of chancers I don't trust. All they are trying to do is take a Lotus, strip out the petrol stuff and stick in a fairly basic electric drive, and they don't seem anywhere near achieving it. Sure, there are a few-preproduction models out now, but they have some "interim" (ie bodged together) drive.

The basic problem is that they have made claims about performance and battery life which are completely unachievable, and are desperately trying to persuade sucke^H^H^H^H^Hcustomers and now the government to keep on giving them money in the hope that somebody, somewhere, will invent a battery which does what they want before the whole thing collapses.

Electric cars good. Research on electric cars good. Research by a company with this track record? You might as well pay MS to develop an operating system.

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Corbin Motors?

Anyone remember those? They had a nice car called the Sparrow EV for around $13k somewhere around 2000. They had sold about 50 or so units by the time I found out about them, but sometime later the whole thing went bankrupt.

The actual vehicle looked funny, but it had an interesting concept: it was a one-person vehicle. The reasoning was that there are a zillion cars with only one person driving them, so it made sense to do a small one-person EV for these trips. Unfortunately, my student budget was too low to even afford one of these, and I'd bet that was the same case for the rest of us watching this exposition. Those with money prefer to spend their $$$ on stupid SUV's.

Tesla, however, seems to be running profitable, and might deserve a grant (NOT bailouts) to keep on their roadmap. They should show GM how to do the EV1 right. Hell, even Wagoner said that GM should've never killed the EV1!

However, I still have that matter of not having any outlets to power an EV. Oh well...

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The EV1

Well, if the EV1 was so fabulous, and GM produced it...why aren't they now turning out more of them since they surely have all the technology still at hand? There had to be some big drawback to them to keep them off the market with the obvious demand for such a vehicle. Cost? Safety? Someone; out with it!

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Pirate

EV1?

Probably more like OILLLLLL = Profits than cost, safety, etc. Why would they spend a fortune on developing something which would be in direct competition to 99.99999999% of their othre products which (at the time) was doing so well?

It's probably correct that they "used" the EV1 project in order to discredit the very idea of leccy cars. So people would rather buy their gas guzzlers. Notice how many "enlarged" GM models came out after EV1 was caned?

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