Is this intended to be a permanent fixture?
It's clearly a small-scale pilot to pave the way for the real deal, and for that reason I'd be surprised if it's economically viable to keep it running in the long term.
Exciting stuff though.
Billionaire space baron Elon Musk has inked a deal with land developers in California to allow his company to begin installing an over-hyped, loopy new transport system appropriately dubbed Hyperloop. Previous mutterings from Musk had suggested that the first railgun-like tube-way would be constructed by Hyperloop …
Technically Amazon doesn't turn a profit either, but it's still seen as a world-striding giant.
More importantly, Tesla is profitable when you reduce their R&D spend by half. Since they have $1.9 billion in cash on hand by using debt issuance during low-interest rate periods, there is no valid reason they should not be spending $464 million on R&D when they are trying to break into new markets and create new, more mainstream products. For 2014, their net loss was $294 million, all while increasing their cash and equivalents by $1.1 billion. Outstanding debt was half of the revenue from 2014, which is a very manageable level for a growing company
You don't have to turn a profit as long as you have access to capital and/or continue spending on R&D in ways that result in investment returns greater than sitting on it. It's not only a common theme among companies for decades, it's the preferred method of business growth. Profits are useful only insomuch as you are able to use them to grow your business, pay dividends, or purchase competitors or enter new markets.
Apple actually is a prime example of a company that is too profitable and making poor business decisions by sitting on a 12-figure cash hoard (and adding to it with bond issuance). There are only so many responsible things that Apple could do with it's cash, but the fact that they keep adding to the hoard purposefully rather than holding even shows they have no business plan besides doing what they are already doing. If they were a smaller company, a competitor or company keen on entering that market would buy them out with little effort. Apple's #1 valuation makes them too big too gobble up, but it still makes shareholders nervous when cash piles keep growing.
If you are a privately held company, profits are great; though even then it can be troublesome because profits can be subject to taxation at a greater rate then if the money was invested or reclassified as payroll and/or asset purchases. So while you are technically right that Tesla is not profitable, it's because of business decisions made to grow revenue, increase market share, enter new markets, and create new products.
There are many reasons to knock Elon, but ultimately he's spending a shedload of cash exploring some huge infrastructure R&D stuff out would be cheaper to forget about. I think the patents statement about not enforcing them against competitors for the overall health of developing the sector is telling. He could just be pumping out app after app waiting to hit on the next insane dotcom valuation, but is doing real-world bleeding-edge engineering, and that's cool.
Maybe there's something of the Brunel in him? Whether or not he manages to turn a profit on every foray is secondary to moving us forward with grand research with inevitable consumer spin-off benefits (eg I can't imagine anyone more excited by improving battery technologies than a man who's bet the farm on a battery powered racecar)
I think the idea is to leave his name on something long term. In doing so, I presume he believes he is creating new markets for the future, similar to the world with personal computing devices.
That being said, the idea of small modular systems for gravity based transports seems like riding a sci-fi dead horse. I've always envisioned a future that has so many people, that entire buildings are required to move around the land because little trains are just too small anymore. However, I guess you could still have small modules for the "first class" financially elite.
My previous post which was extensively downvoted compared Musk's companies to CERN and NASA, but in the private sphere. I obviously didn't spell out in all bold capitals for the hard of thinking that this wasn't intended as criticism. It was just an observation that technology leaders often lose money for investors. Brunel didn't do much for his shareholders but he did a lot for progress. Babbage's machines never got finished but he was on the right track. I would go so far as to suggest that, just as people progress in chess or music by trying to do things that are slightly too difficult, technological progress must mean that early projects fail or are not profitable. They are part of the cashflow-negative part of civilisation as a whole. The point of feasibility studies is that sometimes things aren't feasible.
Paypal, sure. Not that I've ever used it, seen many complaints.
You may note the OP's reference to government loans for Tesla.
One has to wonder if Mr. Musk ever risks any of his own mountainous pile of money on the projects in the initial phases?
Anyone with *concrete* info. on that, I would be glad to hear.
Space X is now massively subsidised in the absence of an alternative to Soyuz and Progress (true reliable workhorses).
Was there ever a time where it was not subsidised? Only a question, but I doubt there was ever a time with any of Mr. Musk's personal hoard 'on the line'.
Here, too, I would love to hear any *concrete* information.
Don't bother posting in reply if you can't make a factual and accurate reply to the two points I raise.
Thank you, Lee T., for the direct reply and info.
Personally, I think he is doing interesting things, but the idea that electric cars are great doesn't work in terms of efficency, unless all of the required power comes from nuclear and renewable sources. That is not happening any time soon.
Toyota and Honda hybrids are more energy-efficient as of now.
The other problem is use of relatively scarce minerals in the batteries in all of the above.
I would much rather see a world where rail networks feed everyone and everything down to the *very* local level, buses, trams, trucks, bicycles, cars, and shank's ponies look after everything after that (and only after).
The cult of the car is very damaging to humanity, because it is so de-socialising.
I also agree, new methods of Public Transport, also filling in gaps it's great how new "driverless" or AI controlled vehicles may enable people to relax & talk on trips, but I think they will just twitter, facebook or one the hundreds of other ego stroking apps, while the world continues to pass by ...
When the electronics packages reach the stages of "condensation" that a smart phone have reached in size, Memory, CPU's. Maybe road rage will be thing off past, Some places the future is being played with ...
AIR SEA RESCUE - drones will rule !!, enough drones in swarm, will bring largest search down to hours or less
>>>One has to wonder if Mr. Musk ever risks any of his own mountainous pile of money on the projects in the initial phases?<<<
Probably, but with it being his own money, who can tell? Point is it's not really important whose money it is, the fact that infrastructure R&D is being pioneered and debugged, and that his involvement has crystallised that finance is all good.
"Don't bother posting in reply if you can't make a factual and accurate reply to the two points I raise."
1. Hi there. In response to your second point, I'd just like to say: chicken. Chicken chicken chicken, chicken-chickens chickening chicken chickens.
Although these modes of transportation seem to work efficiently in the in house mail systems of Costco and elsewhere, let's see if the team of energetic engineers at Hyperloop Transport can adapt these principles to a human grade, highly advanced transport. It has been long in the making. However, if you are like me, you are skeptical that this is really the first time this transport will be used by humans . How else could the military travel back and forth between their Deep Underground Military Bases (DUMB's)
Indeed we do have to wait and see how this works out, but there's some things that can be thought about ahead of time. The article quoted:
"It will be instrumental in optimising passenger system needs – such as loading, departure and safety considerations"
Let's think about loading. With hyperloop the passengers will have to strap in, so that takes, what, ten minutes at least? Think how long it takes to load a 737... So that's one departure every ten minutes at best. I think they're planning something like 20 passengers per vehicle, so it's 120 people per hour.
Compare that to the N700 bullet train in Japan. There's a departure every 5 minutes from Shinagawa to Osaka and it carries 1,300 people. That's 15,600 people per hour.
So as a mass transit system hyperloop seems to have considerable problems.
So say they solve the loading problem, what then would the limit be? Consider the minimum separation to allow for emergency situations. I can't see that being any better than 1 per minute. Which still gives woefully low capacity.
To be worth investing in a transit system has to have good capacity or high ticket prices. I can't see hyperloop's capacity ever being that high; it would need a lot of tubes in parallel to achieve that, or they could string a load of pods together to make a train. Those are much bigger engineering challenges. So I suspect the price would have to be high.
That can work; Concorde was very expensive, but because BA whisked you through dedicated check in, boarding, immigration and arrival channels and flew you at Mach 2 across the Atlantic you saved about 6 hours on the whole journey. That was worth it to a lot of business people.
So if hyperloop ever happens it's at best going to be a pricey, premium service.
Or just a terrific joy ride; I'd be tempted!
If hyperloop ever got built between LA and SF it would take up a route that might otherwise have been high speed train. If the state ever wanted high speed rail between those cities it might not be wise to let hyperloop be built first; it could get in the way.
"Let's think about loading. With hyperloop the passengers will have to strap in, so that takes, what, ten minutes at least?"
Been to a theme park recently?
I'll hazard a guess that restraint systems and loading procedures for something like hyperloop (short journey times and no requirement for people to unstrap themselves, move around "in flight" and restrap themselves) will look a lot more like what you get for a big, fast, modern rollercoaster (one which accelerates and decelerates rapidly, applies significant G in all directions possibly including a bit of negative, and turns its passengers upside down a few times along the way for good measure) than what you get in an airliner.
"Let's think about loading. With hyperloop the passengers will have to strap in, so that takes, what, ten minutes at least? Think how long it takes to load a 737... So that's one departure every ten minutes at best. I think they're planning something like 20 passengers per vehicle, so it's 120 people per hour."
Theme parks manage to process thousands of people on rides with more stringent passenger safety measures than this shuttle is likely to require.
So I don't see it follows that it's going to be slower, particularly since they could scale with parallel tracks and scheduling to put people with the same destination on the same shuttle. They could even scale the service according to demand, adding more shuttles in at peak periods. It's like one glorified bin pack - it could designed to ensure an efficient throughput according to the expected demands on the system.
It doesn't mean it's going to be queueless and it's entirely hypothetical how it would work in a developed system. I imagine the first hyperloop systems will be fairly rudimentary with a limited number of destinations and many of the problems will require a real system to manifest themselves.
I'd add that boarding is just one of many delays encountered with air travel - slogging to the airport, checkin, security, boarding and the disembarkation and more slogging at the other side. A hyperloop could potentially deliver people to or close to the actual centre of a city. Look at the Eurostar as an example of this - the train is slower than a plane but it actually to where people want to go and so is faster and more convenient than a plane.
Um, I think you're missing the point.
"Theme parks manage to process thousands of people on rides with more stringent passenger safety measures than this shuttle is likely to require."
"So I don't see it follows that it's going to be slower"
So a 10 car roller coaster with 4 people to a car running once every 2.5 minutes sounds like a reasonable throughput for a roller coaster. That might on a good day amount to 8,000 people per day.
In comparison a train system like the Shinkansen can do that in just half an hour.
If you want to move 100,000 each day you need to move them by hundreds (aircraft) and thousands (trains) at a time. A small pod carrying 20 - 40 people at a time isn't going to work.
"particularly since they could scale with parallel tracks"
The costs would scale upwards too.
"and scheduling to put people with the same destination on the same shuttle."
Er, what? With any form of transport you're going to get to where ever it stops. You're not going to change shuttles midway unless it stops to let you do that. If you get on the wrong one you'll be going the wrong way...
"They could even scale the service according to demand, adding more shuttles in at peak periods. It's like one glorified bin pack - it could designed to ensure an efficient throughput according to the expected demands on the system."
You're missing the point. Unless a shuttle can carry 1000+ people at a time then you cannot beat the throughput of a train. So far the Hyperloop guys are talking about single shuttle carrying 28 people leaving once every 30 seconds (which seems optimistic), and they say that the system could transport 7 million people per year per tube. That's barely 10% of what a single train track can carry.
The 30 seconds separation sounds very optimistic; in an emergency situation you'd have to be able to stop in much less than 30 seconds. It's about 3G for 10 seconds, which is a hell of a lot of braking for a vehicle that'd have to achieve that with nothing but linear motors for traction, and especially when whatever the emergency is has probably badly compromised the system anyway. A 30 second separation sounds like a good way of making an accident a whole lot worse than it already is.
"A hyperloop could potentially deliver people to or close to the actual centre of a city. Look at the Eurostar as an example of this - the train is slower than a plane but it actually to where people want to go and so is faster and more convenient than a plane."
Er, train stations have generally been in town centres for 160 years. This is not a new idea. Hyperloop is a worse idea because it cannot move as many people.
"If you want to move 100,000 each day you need to move them by hundreds (aircraft) and thousands (trains) at a time. A small pod carrying 20 - 40 people at a time isn't going to work."
There's a departure from Heathrow about every 2 minutes during the day. By your logic this would be impossible as you can't bring an aircraft up to the gate, load it and send it on its way that quickly.
The Hyperloop system design has fairly specifically decoupled passenger access to the pods from the actual trackway. Even if one pod is unduly delayed the others aren't affected.
I gave you an (the?) upvote, you make some good points.
A large contingent of reg. commentards automatically downvote any question re. Musk Enterprises.
I wish I had taken a flight on the Concorde before its demise, not as a business traveller, but just to have ridden it once.
Went to see both it and the Tu-144 as a tiny thing, before the latter had a brief career of limited flights, and the Concorde was restricted to N.Y. as a destination.
I love the bullet trains, but they wreak havoc on local services. Unless someone else is paying, too expensive to ride in general, but of course, the company is paying for most of the regulars, particularly on the Tokaido.
Also, they are too fast to enjoy any scenery.
"I gave you an (the?) upvote, you make some good points."
Why, thank you!
"A large contingent of reg. commentards automatically downvote any question re. Musk Enterprises."
Perhaps. Personally I'm neutral on the guy and his ambitions; I don't actually care whether or not Hyperloop gets built, but no one should ever see it as being a useful or profitable transport solution. If it gets in the way of something more societally beneficial (like a proper high speed train link) then perhaps it shouldn't be allowed.
If it does get built, I'd definitely like to go on it!
I think that a lot of his projects are commercially crazy and full of contradictions. For example, SpaceX set out to make a disposable rocket extremely cheap (at the cost of performance). Now they're trying to do a reusable rocket the really hard way. Did they discover that rocket science is actually unavoidably expensive?
Tesla cars are also a contradiction. Great yeah, an electric car, but everyone knows that they're flawed as a mode of transportation and hardly anyone asks where the electricity comes from in the first place. They're a long way from being a universal motoring solution. Everyone who's bought one almost certainly has another vehicle too, and environmentally speaking that's a hell of a lot worse than owning just one single vehicle.
None of that really matters, it's his money. If he wanted to maximise his return on investment he'd concentrate on just battery research and not bother with the car, solar panels and rockets. Admittedly that'd much more dull. Clearly he's not doing these things to make the largest possible profit, and to his credit that is refreshing.
However he did crash and destroy a McLaren F1 (according to Wikipedia). He has a lot to answer for in my view.
"Went to see both it and the Tu-144 as a tiny thing, before the latter had a brief career of limited flights, and the Concorde was restricted to N.Y. as a destination."
Concorde was the Hyperloop of the 1960s. An aeronautical dream that was sold to the politicians who were to pay for as as being a solution to increasing the capacity of air travel. Oh how the engineers must have laughed! We did end up with a very seriously cool aircraft. But air travel is now beginning to be limited by the number of landing and take-off slots available at the airports. Fast planes don't help solve that. Big planes do. The A380 is about the only answer to that problem.
"I love the bullet trains, but they wreak havoc on local services. Unless someone else is paying, too expensive to ride in general, but of course, the company is paying for most of the regulars, particularly on the Tokaido."
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "wreeks havoc on local services". The Shinkansen integrates very well with local trains, as does TGV in France and the ICE trains in Germany. It's not dirt cheap, but even at £100ish for a single from Tokyo to Osaka it's just about cheaper than the overall whole-life cost per mile of driving the same distance in a car. The car wins if you put 2 people in it, but it's a hell of a lot slower.
"Also, they are too fast to enjoy any scenery."
I've got a series of photos of Mt Fuji that I took from the bullet train. All but one of them had something like a telegraph pole, house, bridge etc. spoiling the view. Clear gaps just didn't last long enough!
> Great yeah, an electric car, but everyone knows that they're flawed as a mode of transportation and hardly anyone asks where the electricity comes from in the first place.
Of course people ask.
That's actually a different problem to solve. Solving the problem of cars that don't burn fossil fuels though is inevitably a part of that. I agree that electric cars might not be the answer, but to be honest, it is likely to be.
"Compare that to the N700 bullet train in Japan."
OK, let's do that.
"There's a departure every 5 minutes from Shinagawa to Osaka and it carries 1,300 people."
They're pass through and they only stop for 2 minutes, so you're not loading/unloading that many people in that amount of time.
The departures from the endpoints (Tokyo and Osaka central) don't all leave from the same platform and nor would hyperloop transits.
As for seatbelts, passengers are not subjected to the g-loadings needed to require them, while accelerating or deceleating. (In the case of a tube repressurisation peak g-load would hit about -0.5 and stay there for about 30 seconds.)
Hyperloop itself is rather small (too small, in my view: It should be large enough to accomodate a carriage loaded with a standard 40 shipping container), so there's no reason it can't share elevated trackway with shorthaul HST systems.
Once up to speed there is no reason that individual passenger pods can't entrain themselves into batches. This would make route switching a lot easier and en-masse slowdowns much easier in the event of repressurisation.
I think they will have to give each "passenger" own little steering wheel, maybe a honker, & a gear lever, so they could pretend to be driving, they are Americans, it's how they think anyway, it may be only way to get them to use Public Transport ...
Musk, in his wide ranging engineering interests, has for some time reminded me of the younger Brunel and his mixed bag of success.
This particular venture brings to mind the vacuum powered South Devon Railway. I hope Musk has allowed for the 21st century equivalent of Brunel's unforseen hungry rats.
Off topic I know but...
I came upon the first Tesla Dealership that I've seen outside the USA yesterday.
It was in Crawley no less. Yes that haven of Rich People just to the South of Gatport Airwick.
Go past the 'strip mall' that contains Staples and PC-World (no hardship there then), resist the temptation to head for the local Council Tip (Where's the glass recycling point?) and there it is in all its glory. A few cars on display. Nowt much else. Not a sale-droid in sight. Perhaps all the staff were in Costa-Coffee?
Can it be up for a prize as the most out of the way dealership possible?
Not seen any Tesla's on the road over here yet. I'd expect the almost total lack of charging points has something to do with it. Mind you I did see a BMW i8 on the M3 the other day but has a petrol engine as well as battery.
Are there any other dealerships/showrooms that are equally hard to find? I'm sure that there are.
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