back to article Elon Musk's Tesla burns $675.3m in largest ever quarterly loss

Elon Musk may be entertaining world+dog with his impressive space invasion but back on terra firma his electric car biz Tesla has just reported its fattest ever quarterly loss. The car and battery biz hemorrhaged $675.4m in the three months ending 31 December compared with a loss of $121m for the same period the previous year …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    "I expect to remain CEO for the foreseeable future"

    At least until the 00 section catch up with him.

    1. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: "I expect to remain CEO for the foreseeable future"

      Well we know how bad he is at predicting the future.

      I expect he will remain Tesla CEO till just before it becomes obvious Tesla investors are going to lose their shirts and then he will leave and hide inside Space X.

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: "I expect to remain CEO for the foreseeable future"

        Well we know how bad he is at predicting the future.

        Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.

        - Niels Bohr

        ....my favourite quote.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I expect to remain CEO for the foreseeable future"

        > I expect he will remain Tesla CEO till just before it becomes obvious Tesla investors are going to lose their shirts

        Speaking as a Tesla investor.

        I never ever expected to make a profit out of it. I put a non-insignificant sum into it years ago because I thought it was a crazy idea that should be attempted and The Musk looked insane enough to actually go for it. That investment has gone up well over 1000% so far and I could just retire and live comfortably off it.

        But I don't care if, when or how he burns it, I'm not in it for the money. Whatever happens, the world is already a different place than back when this guy came up with the idea said "I'm going to do this", and I'm happy to contribute my small part to that.

        As it was said from that British army officer¹, "his men would follow him anywhere, if only out of curiosity".

        ¹ Incidentally, I actually had an NCO like that.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    "So I'm hopeful that people think that if we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we could probably solve Model 3 production."

    I look forward to it. I mean he said he was aiming for Mars but then ended up in the Astroid belt, it might mean the Model 4 gets put in to production before he finishes the 500,000 back orders of the Model 3?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No. By that thinking he would end up overproducing the Model 3 so there would be a glut. If you are going to be snarky you might as well be logical; it rather ruins the effect if you are not.

    2. fishman

      If I remember, at the press conference after the launch he said they would fire the second stage engine until it ran out of fuel. So it sounds like it had more fuel than they expected.

      1. Deltics
        Pint

        I guess that's the difference between an engineering, scientific approach and seat of the pants showboating.

        "Second star on the right and straight on 'til morning" is fine poetry, but it's not engineering. Musk talks about goals as if he's doing engineering but (what I suspect is) his true nature as a showman comes through when it comes to the deliveries.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      I look forward to it. I mean he said he was aiming for Mars but then ended up in the Astroid belt, it might mean the Model 4 gets put in to production before he finishes the 500,000 back orders of the Model 3?

      Dunno about that, but that Roadster paid for itself by a factor of 100+. Just being able to go out in front of investors and use this line probably costs a few 100 millions (in terms of share value).

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Dunno about that, but that Roadster paid for itself by a factor of 100+. Just being able to go out in front of investors and use this line probably costs a few 100 millions (in terms of share value)."

        The stock has taken a right beating this week with a loss of about $5 billion in market Cap. Using the logic above, it could also be said that they would have been better off just loading the upper stage with politicians instead of the car.

    4. Robert Heffernan

      "I mean he said he was aiming for Mars but then ended up in the Astroid belt"

      In all honestly, he was aiming for AT LEAST Mars. They burned the upper stage to depletion regardless of target. It showed them how far the upper stage could get almost to Ceres, which is no mean feat. Honestly it would not have taken all that much fuel to get to Jupiter's orbit. In fact, the orbit it is in now will actually be affected by Jupiter making the orbit somewhat unstable, and the possibility exists that the roadster will be now ejected from the Solar System entirely by Jupiter at some stage in the distant future.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        "...orbit somewhat unstable..."

        I've read that all 3-body Problem orbits, presumably excepting a few Lagrangian points, are inherently unstable. I half-expect the Earth to be flung into deep space next Wednesday.

      2. waldo kitty
        Boffin

        "In all honestly, he was aiming for AT LEAST Mars. They burned the upper stage to depletion regardless of target."

        go here and have a play... the green orbit is the Roadster... take the simulation with a grain of salt as it is done with the currently available numbers which will change over time...

        sorry for the long url...

        http://orbitsimulator.com/gravitySimulatorCloud/yr/gsim2018.html?sv,1,2018-017A,2458157.50,-111460718436.256134,96755918467.335342,-75465634.877971,-22692.886039,-25294.933534,-722.153515,0,0,00FF00,90,65,,16000,0,12,1,0,

        here it is shortened...

        https://tinyurl.com/yabgew5v

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "It showed them how far the upper stage could get almost to Ceres,"

        If they didn't do the PR stunt of trying to land the boosters, they could have made it to Ceres. If they were really clever, they might have been able to land the car on Ceres. That would have shown more acumen than just flinging the rocket up as far as they could make it go. A photo of the roadster on the surface of Ceres would be serious space cred.

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Shh, That's Apple's strategy, not Tesla's - you might give him ideas.

  3. unwarranted triumphalism

    A criminal waste of money, a criminal CEO and a criminal organisation. How many billions of taxpayer dollars have they stolen?

    1. israel_hands

      Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

      You keep throwing those claims around. What crimes, exactly, are you accusing Musk/Tesla of?

      Or is it just more of your bullshit right-wing frothing?

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

        If you think calling out criminals is 'right-wing frothing' then that tells me everything I need to know about you.

        Isn't this (https://www.bicycling.com/culture/tesla-is-paying-employees-to-commute-by-bike) a crime? Ridin a bike is a crime as afar as I'm concerned.

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

          Hopefully you're a troll. If not El Reg should probably have better moderation, but Elon probably won't sue.

          1. unwarranted triumphalism

            Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

            'Elon probably won't sue'

            Was that supposed to be a threat? Hilarious. But sad at the same time.

            1. Killing Time

              Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

              'Elon probably won't sue'

              Was that supposed to be a threat?

              It comes across to me as a witty retort, I wouldn't go as far as hilarious or any suggestion of sadness either. Perhaps I missed something....

          2. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

            On the basis of recent comments I'm guessing the newest iteration of Microsoft's chatbot.

        2. israel_hands

          Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

          You haven't called out a criminal though, have you? Your only example is frankly laughable and does nothing to challenge my earlier comment.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

          If I worked in the office I would love to be paid to bike to work, in fact when I did work in an office that's exactly what I did, every day and in the winter. How is riding a bike a crime? Can you get arrested for walking under false pretences?

          I've tried to understand some of your bizarre commentary in the past but it seems I was off in deliberations so I think I'm going to have to ask if you were dropped as a baby? You may need to confirm this with parents.

          1. unwarranted triumphalism

            Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

            Your abusive comments just go to prove my point. If you really think there's some kind of pride to be had in riding a bike (which is a crime, by the way) then there is no reasoning with you.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

              "which is a crime, by the way"

              What crime would that be? I'm all ears or maybe I'm wearing lycra and you have an issue with my huge manhood, slapping from side to side, tick tock tick tock. I get it now, you are repressive of who you are and what you want.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

              If you really think there's some kind of pride to be had in riding a bike (which is a crime, by the way) then there is no reasoning with you.

              It's a shame you can't be consistent in your trolling:

              Back in 2014 you wrote:

              Would I buy A Tesla? When you pry my Scott CR1 Pro from my cold dead hands, then maybe I'll consider it. :)

              A Scott CR1 Pro is a bicycle, isn't it?

            3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

              @unwarranted whateverism, I have no feckin idea what you're smoking, sniffing or droppin. But I need this stuff. Now!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

            > How is riding a bike a crime?

            Depends on your body shape and whether you are wearing Lycra or not.

            (don't shoot me, I'm a keen cyclist too, but I can take a joke :-) )

        4. Kernel

          Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

          "Ridin a bike is a crime as afar as I'm concerned."

          In that case, although I don't work for Tesla (or Musk in any shape or form) and I don't live in the US, I'm more than happy to put up my hand and say "I'm a bicycle criminal" for most of my work commutes.

        5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

          Ridin a bike is a crime as afar as I'm concerned.

          As someone who lives in a criminal city where there is less than 1% of households without a cyclist, has a criminal wife (which clocks 16 miles a day bike commute) and two thoroughly criminal children (who commute to school and nearly all of their activities on bikes clocking up to 10 miles on some days) I am going to be short and to the point: F*ck off.

          Alternative suggestion: HiIde under your bridge and continue to work on your morbid obesity, it suits you.

          By the way, every time I end up working for a Valley company (it is a recurring mistake), my first thought is how to organize a spare bike there. Those nice cycling lanes around San Jose need filling and paying Avis king's ransom every time is just not worth it.

          If Musk is actually promoting bike usage, one more cudos from me. One more thing the man is doing right. Applause.

        6. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

          I'm sure Tesla would love to have all of the rank and file rides their bikes to work. Big manufacturing plants have to space shifts apart to allow the parking lot to clear out before the next shift arrives or they'd have to have twice as big of a car park that just sits half empty most of the time. Get a whole bunch of the meat-robots to ride bikes and maybe they could do direct handoffs between shifts and keep the lines running all of the time. If they are only producing 2 Model 3's per hour, they need to use all of the hours of the day they can.

        7. Hans 1 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

          @unwarranted triumphalism

          In your linked article, if you were to read it, Tesla motors is paying employees who cycle to the factory a little bonus. Nobody forces an employee to cycle to work, however, there is an incentive. This actually makes perfect economic sense if you think about the parking facilities needed were all employees to come in vehicles ... the savings thus generated are passed onto the cyclists, I guess that is fair.

          I personally cycle my kids to school, mainly because I save time as I am never stuck in traffic that way and we have heavy traffic in the morning around here. My 5 yo now cycles the 2km on her own bicycle ... not sure what is criminal about cycling ... care to elaborate ? Can you ride a bike ?

      2. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

        Uppies just for the title.

        I would have given you one for the content as well if allowed.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Unwarranted Trumpanzee

        "Or is it just more of your bullshit right-wing frothing?"

        Don't paint people of a conservative frame of mind with such a broad brush. It's the conspiracy nuts that are frothing.

    2. xyz123

      So which car manufacturer do you shill for?

      I'm genuinely curious, since all the other manufacturers tried to destroy Tesla, then tried to BUY out Tesla, now they resort to petty internet sniping hoping to hurt their company value.

      Sad and pathetic dying gasps from an industry that said electric cars weren't wanted by the public, but now follow on Tesla's footsteps as their previous selling models become unsustainable.

      So many dinosaur car companies MASSIVELY MASSIVELY in debt for many many billions, cutting employee numbers and wages, yet still slagging off rivals.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: So which car manufacturer do you shill for?

        I'm genuinely curious, since all the other manufacturers tried to destroy Tesla, then tried to BUY out Tesla, now they resort to petty internet sniping hoping to hurt their company value.

        All the other manufacturers are still in the process of destroying Tesla. Including Tesla itself, via it's burn rate. Other manufacturers are ramping up production of their own EVs, and it's suppliers are helping. For example-

        https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-panasonic-results/panasonic-hikes-outlook-after-third-quarter-earnings-surge-on-automotive-demand-idUKKBN1FP0US

        Aiming to reduce its dependence on Tesla, Panasonic recently partnered with Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) to develop and supply batteries for electric vehicles.

        If Tesla aren't buying the output from Panasonic's 'Gigafactories', someone else will. And in other news, market jitters around wage inflation, and inflation in general will likely lead to rising interest rates and make it harder for Tesla to raise new capital via the bond markets. Or refinancing it's existing bonds will get more expensive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So which car manufacturer do you shill for?

          You mean that Tesla is incapable of being in business and needs special consideration? These clowns can't compete despite the massive government subsidies and an adoring public.

          Incompetence of the highest level. Musk for President!!!

        2. israel_hands

          Re: So which car manufacturer do you shill for?

          All the other manufacturers are still in the process of destroying Tesla. Including Tesla itself, via it's burn rate. Other manufacturers are ramping up production of their own EVs, and it's suppliers are helping.

          You don't seem to realise, that means Musk is winning. His stated goal wasn't to make as much money as he can, or even destroy the other manufacturers. He wanted to make electric cars mainstream because he wants to kick-start a sci-fi future and get us away from depending on fossil fuels. That's also why he makes solar panels and massive batteries, so we don't need to rely on coal-fired powerplants to fuel EVs. It's also why he open-sourced loads of Tesla patents, so that other companies can produce their own EVs and improve on the designs.

          Ford and the rest of them trying to crush Tesla by making EVs is like threatening to throw Brer Rabbit into a briar patch.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: So which car manufacturer do you shill for?

            You don't seem to realise, that means Musk is winning. His stated goal wasn't to make as much money as he can, or even destroy the other manufacturers. He wanted to make electric cars mainstream because he wants to kick-start a sci-fi future and get us away from depending on fossil fuels. That's also why he..

            Incorporated Tesla as a non-profit? OK, so Musk didn't found Tesla, and he still has some way to go before the Model 3's sales catch up the Nissan Leaf. But if his goal wasn't to make money, he's on target with a $771m Q4 loss, declining margins and $9.5bn in debt. And only managed to produce 1,542 Model 3s, which is a long way from the promised 5,000 a week. And with 400,000 orders for those, customers will have to be patient. Or look at buying competing EVs from other manufacturer's who may not share Musk's view of the Model 3 being a 'premium EV'. And Tesla somehow needs to produce semis, trucks and it's new Roadster without massively increasing capex and wage bills.

            And there'll be no getting away from fossil fuels because electricity is still going to be needed to charge EVs.

    3. xyz123

      who?

      Criminal organization? which one? Ford? GM? Nissan? Audi? VW? Vauxhall? or is there some emmissions-cheating dinosaur heavy-in-debt dying car company that has illegal subsidies and backdoor bribery of senators that I'm missing?

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Please provide a spreadsheet showing the free government support that isn't tied to things like delivering supplies to ISS, putting satellites in orbit or development money for Commercial Crew.

  4. choleric

    Apogee or perigee?

    See title

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What proportion of those Sales

    are just advance orders that are still to be delivered ?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: What proportion of those Sales

      As I understand it, they've got a huge order book, but only take a grand or two deposit off people to go on it. So those numbers are more likely to be sales. I think it's a refundable deposit too, so it should show on their books as an asset of lots of cash, a liability of lots of deposits, and a small profit from whatever interest they earn on it.

      1. Simon Rockman

        Re: What proportion of those Sales

        The deposit on a Model 3 is £1,000 (I've done that), the deposit on the new roadster as a founder or whatever is £180,000.

        But then it is quicker than the holy trinity.

        Simon

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: What proportion of those Sales

      "Reservations", not orders. The reservations are also fully refundable (eventually). The people towards the back of the line and those that want to order a base model (the infamous $35k price point) still have a considerable wait.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit more scepticism wouldn't hurt

    Musk confirmed the business was on track to produce 1 million cars by 2020.

    And I can confirm that I'm on track to win the lottery next week. Anyone care to lend me a few millions to back that prediction?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: A bit more scepticism wouldn't hurt

      Too many investors chasing possible higher returns in a very flat market, basically, and most of them are using other people's money - pension funds and the like.

      The "irrational exuberance" of believing one man knows better than the entire enormous car industry floats on wodges of other people's cash.

    2. Killing Time

      Re: A bit more scepticism wouldn't hurt

      'Anyone care to lend me a few millions to back that prediction?'

      If I had it and you had his business plan and track record along with the major investors he already has onboard, I would consider it. He certainly isn't risking all his own wedge.

      Personally, I wouldn't bet against him.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: A bit more scepticism wouldn't hurt

        Personally, I wouldn't bet against him.

        Also worth considering that despite the Reg offering a screaming "burns $675.3m in largest ever quarterly loss" headline, if they'd bothered to read the press release a bit more, they'd have seen that cash flow from operating activities had turned positive, and to the tune of half a billion dollars.

        P&L is merely theatre for the peasants. All the real action is on the cash flow statement and the balance sheet. They all (should) ultimately reconcile, but it does help to have a clue about what matters.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bit more scepticism wouldn't hurt

      Musk confirmed the business was on track to produce 1 million cars by 2020.

      Which will be all the cars that the USA will need once:-

      - Self Driving

      and

      - Car Sharing

      Become the norm and many in the USA are predicting.

      No cars will be sold to private buyers and you will use Uber etc to take you wherever you want to go.

      Don't worry Tesla Fanbois, Elon will still be able to walk on water(or Mars) and is the new messiah and Tesla will be the ONLY car maker left standing. Anything without a 'T' on is is merely a compliance car and can be ignored.

      Sceptical? Yes I am and probably for good reason.

      1. Jimmy2Cows

        re: Car share = norm?

        I have a feeling the vast majority won't accept car sharing as the norm. Not for a very, very long time.

        Too many personal, status, convenience, hygiene etc. factors against that ownership/usage model.

        Might be viable in the centres of large, densely populated cities, but those places generally have good enough public transport anyway, such that cars not usually needed except as taxis. Which is pretty much car sharing anyway. With someone to (hopefully) keep it clean inside.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: re: Car share = norm?

          The basic Car Sharing concept inherently wastes energy.

          Because shared cars (in the context of a busy rush hour commute, imagine self-driving if it helps) have to move around while empty, going to pick up the next passenger.

          A-to-B + C-to-D < A-to-B + B-to-C + C-to-D

          (B-to-C being the extra move)

          Everyone just assumes the opposite. I recommend at least thinking it through a bit more. Acknowledge in advance that there'd be fewer cars, thus saving the embodied resources. My point is simply to challenge the unwarranted assumption.

          Perhaps it'll be acceptable once there's excess renewable energy, so no real harm wasting a little bit.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: re: Car share = norm?

          Car "sharing" wouldn't work very well where I am. The density is too low. There is also the inventory problem of a company (which is maximizing its value for the executives) to handle peak usage in the morning and evening and much less during the middle of the day and at night. Think of all of the car parks that it's going to take to store cars when they are not in use. It can also be very frustrating to have to wait when you need to pick up children from activities not only for the parents but also the supervisors at the other end that need to wait until all of the children have been picked up.

          You know those independent contractors that are delivering for Amazon with impossible schedules and getting paid less than minimum wage? There won't be any of those people available to keep doing that job since they won't have a car to destroy doing that work.

          Autonomy is way the hell off in the distance. It's another technology that will work best in city centers where roads can be uniformly marked, signs can contain reference markers and radio beacons can be placed. Major motorways might be possible eventually. There just needs to be a system that keeps inattentive drivers from plowing into the back of fire trucks that are stopped to attend a previous accident. B roads? Get out in the country where you might have to negotiate via sign language with a driver going in the opposite direction to be able to pass each other isn't something that an autonomous car may be able to do very well. Especially so if the verge is muddy. The thing that would concern me the more is to get in a car, punch up my destination and have the thing tell me that it's not authorized to go where I need to go or that the network is down and the car won't go anywhere. Nobody in Florida needing to get out of the way of a hurricane is going to risk having the car tell them "I can't do that, Dave". Through tornado alley in the middle of the US, one might want to perform an otherwise illegal U-turn on the motorway to avoid being flung through the air or pummeled with hail or debris. The car may not allow the maneuver or a completely autonomous car with no controls just can't be driven manually. There is the network issue again if a tornado knocks out internet in an area. You put a machine in between you and your use of a car.

  7. DainB Bronze badge

    So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 and now Gigafactory can't produce enough of them ?

    Who would have thought.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

      The real problem is that lithium cells currently have to be small for a variety of reasons, which limits their practicality for a car where ideally you want a small number of high capacity modular cells. Until that is solved, lithium batteries will always be a compromise.

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

        The real problem is some dimwit thought that it's a good idea to have different battery packs for different Tesla models, the only compromise there is with common sense.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

          "The real problem is some dimwit thought that it's a good idea to have different battery packs for different Tesla models, the only compromise there is with common sense."

          It's unavoidable when the technology is evolving. I wouldn't want still to be on crossply tyres with drum brakes, non-power steering, pushing 8 inch floppies into a 30kg floppy drive and loading paper tape to get programs to run. But that means breaking backward compatibility.

          My own feeling fwiw is that Musk felt the big car companies breathing down his neck and decided he had to compress timescales beyond what was actually achievable, before GM and Nissan got the battery range or PHEVs became mainstream and killed the BEV market. As it looks as if 2019 could be both the year of the mainstream manufacturer EV and the reasonably priced PHEV, the window is very narrow. And one thing Musk doesn't seem to have grasped is that if you take on more people the project takes longer, but if you don't take them on, you can't get the volumes.

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

            GM and Nissan got the battery range or PHEVs became mainstream and killed the BEV market.

            +1

            The PHEV is still mostly large SUV and family cars. The Mitsubishi PHEV is ~ 30k at present. Even for that amount of money it sells like hot bread and is outselling all other hybrids and electric vehicles combined in the UK. If Musk does not deliver by next year, it is pretty much game over at least for the European market, because from 2019 it will probably go downmarket into the small car segment as well.

            So he is clearly pushing things to the limit and is doing this not because he can, but because he has to. Anything else aside, he has created some competition in a number of supposedly moribund sectors so this cannot be bad.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

              The Mitsubishi PHEV is ~ 30k at present. Even for that amount of money it sells like hot bread and is outselling all other hybrids and electric vehicles combined in the UK.

              Only because they've equalised the price with the ICE version, and the buyers are then choosing PHEV for personal tax benefits. In day to day use, the benefits of the Mitsu PHEV are negligible with poor range, and in typical company car driver hands, not even low emissions overall - a dreadful, opportunist piece of engineering that advances no cause other than Mitsubishi's bottom line.

              As usual shit headed incentives have skewed the market. They've certainly produced the incentivised result of selling more plug in hybrids, on the other hand, creating demand for a lard arsed SUV with pipe & slippers appeal and relatively high emissions may not be seen as the original purpose of the incentives.

              I'd have every Mitu PHEV rounded up and crushed. And any driver claiming to have chosen it for the environmental benefits would be locked inside during the crushing.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Mitsubishi PHEV

                I'd have every Mitu PHEV rounded up and crushed. And any driver claiming to have chosen it for the environmental benefits would be locked inside during the crushing

                It looks like I'm a gonner then. But my Outlander does 80% of its miles on Battery [1]and all of the energy used to charge the battery comes from renewables. That is either from Ecotricity or my own PV system. But I'm obviously living on a different planet to you and can expect a huge great diesel belching crusher to arrive very soon. /s

                [1] I filled in the tank on 20th Jan. The tank is still half full and I've done nearly 350 miles but real experiences obviously don't count in your view of the world.

              2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

                Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

                I'd have every Mitu PHEV rounded up and crushed. And any driver claiming to have chosen it for the environmental benefits would be locked inside during the crushing.

                With you on that one.

                A car half its size however with a similar (probably two-wheel drive though) drive-train is a definite buy in this house. The EV range is roughly consistent with the commutes we do when we do not use bikes and the "outside-range" ability covers our primary long range use-case of "to airport and back".

                Unfortunately, nobody is doing a reasonably priced car half the Mitsubishi size - something in the "old pre-tank Clio"/Yaris/i20/Corsa/Fiasco category. There are full electrics like the electric Soul or the Leaf, but they do not fit my most basic req - being able to get to any of the nearby airports and back on one charge (that is 200miles round trip if you are unfortunate to have to use a Gatwick flight).

                1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                  Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

                  "Unfortunately, nobody is doing a reasonably priced car half the Mitsubishi size"

                  Welcome to the wonderful world of engineering (that isn't meant to be sarcasm, just an observation).

                  The problem with cars is, basically, frontal area. As the arms race to make them bigger continues, sports cars of the MX5 variety increasingly can't see where they are going in heavy traffic. There's a race upwards as well as sideways.

                  But frontal area determines drag and has a significant impact on fuel consumption.

                  Then there's safety. A small car has less room for crumple zones so it has to be made stronger to protect the occupants - hence the immensely strong chassis of the original Smart.

                  The result is that the fuel consumption of small cars is little better than that of large ones unless major compromises are made.

                  Batteries take up a lot of room, especially if properly cooled, and add a lot of weight. The tl;dr is that the bigger the vehicle the easier it is to make it electric or PHEV, especially when you consider that the engine of the PHEV is going to be roughly the same size whether you try to shoehorn it into a Corsa of leave lots of room round it in a Mitsubishi.

                  The result is that the Yaris Hybrid, for instance, masses 1150kg without the added mass of a plug in battery. And that as the powertrain is going to be almost as expensive as on a much larger car, the selling price is going to be horrible on the small car.

                  The reason that the Leaf, the Ioniq and so on are around the 4.3-4.4 metre mark is because that's what current technology delivers as the minimum practical size based on engineering and economics.

                  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

                    ViM offered "frontal area determines drag"

                    'Determines' isn't quite the correct word. There are other parameters, such as Cd and V^2.

                    My largish W211 Mercedes supposedly has a Cd of 0.26. On the other hand, the V^2 can get pretty extreme at times.

            2. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

              Even for that amount of money it sells like hot bread and is outselling all other hybrids and electric vehicles combined in the UK.

              It has about 25% market share 2014-2017.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

            And one thing Musk doesn't seem to have grasped is that if you take on more people the project takes longer, but if you don't take them on, you can't get the volumes.

            Succinct and insightful. But let's face it, most businesses don't get that either.

          3. DainB Bronze badge

            Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

            "It's unavoidable when the technology is evolving."

            What are you even talking about, what exactly you think is evolving there ? Same batteries of same size are used in electric scooters and bikes all over the China and rest of the world for years, in fact whole Gigafactory is an old semi-manual battery assembly line moved from China to Nevada in exchange to some US Govt credits for Panasonic and Tesla after Panasonic upgraded China factory.

            Making battery larger without changing anything else is not an evolution.

            Changing crucial part of car you're making while you could simply use Model S compatible batteries is a lunacy that cost 2.2bn a year in losses.

            But look - car in space ! Pfft.

          4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

            ViM noted, "unavoidable"

            Google up Arthur C Clarke's short story, 'Superiority'. Mandatory reading!!

            Progress vs maintaining standards is a very dangerous trade-off. It should never be an assumption in either choice.

            Musk's decision is probably correct. But not unavoidable.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

          If you want distinctly different looking cars, it's very hard to have to base your entire design around a set battery pack. Building different configuration battery packs is not a big deal unless you have designed your production around an automated system that doesn't work. From the tidbits I have seen published and knowing a wee bit about volume production, Tesla was shooting directly for as close to 100% automated assembly of the Model 3 and it's left them with no way to insert human labor in build segments where they haven't been able to work out all of the bugs. I've backed myself into corners before and the first thing to do is admit it and burn some midnight oil to come up with an expedient work-around temporarily. In the case of Model 3 battery packs, it would be creating tools and fixtures that humans can use and setting up some space to do the work. People can be amazingly flexible and easier to implement than robots in the short term.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "So someone decided use different battery size for Model 3 "

        Li cells can be large. Caravan owners use 100A cells to DIY their own battery packs. The use of small cylindrical cells is a throw back to when they were far cheaper per kWh and using them also means that when a bunch of them fail, the total capacity of the pack doesn't take a big hit all at once. Most other manufacturers besides Tesla use larger cells to save a lot of work putting packs together. Vehicle batteries come with pretty good warranties that run between 8 and 10 years so if there is an issue, chances are that you can get a new pack fitted for free.

        The first Pre-Elon Tesla Roadster and the AC propulsion T-Zero used cylindrical cells since they were easy to get and they could be tucked away in any spare space.

  8. Mikel

    An anecdote

    I have a friend who has a Model 3 on order. Although he is eager to get his car, he is OK with waiting until "whenever it's ready." He wouldn't consider giving up his place in line.

    1. unwarranted triumphalism

      Re: An anecdote

      Your friend must enjoy being taken advantage of then. I prefer to buy things from companies that actually deliver what they've been paid for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An anecdote

        Tesla in the car park outside my office (not mine though) - seems to be a good car. So they do exist and you can touch them when they haven't been sent into space.

        1. unwarranted triumphalism

          Re: An anecdote

          I'm glad that you're so full of admiration for an overpriced golf buggy.

  9. Robert Heffernan

    Don't bet against Elon Musk

    I would never bet against Elon. He is the one guy with the vision, the drive, and the ability to actually achieve what he sets out for. Yes, there are issues with time estimation, but no one can accurately predict the unknown challenges involved. (Hell, I couldn't estimate how long a task will take to save my life)

    Its easy to talk about missing production deadlines as a bad thing in the context of a well established automotive industry, but Tesla is still a young automotive company who doesn't have a couple of generations of experience with production lines, and who is actually more focused on internal production and problem solving rather than farming that out to 3rd party suppliers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't bet against Elon Musk

      Every car maker on the planet is working to undercut and overtake Tesla. If they don't turn their business model from "Elon's last acid trip" to "Positive quarterly results" they will be an interesting footnote in history before the decade's out.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: Don't bet against Elon Musk

        they will be an interesting footnote in history before the decade's out

        Does that really matter, though?

        Elon Musk has strolled into three different industries where the incumbents have simply said "it can't be done", and he's done it. If his personal goal was to change the world, then mission accomplished:

        • SpaceX are undercutting everyone in the launch business by recovering their rockets which was deemed "impossible". Now even ULA are saying they have plans.
        • Tesla made electric cars sexy when the best of the rest was the G-Whizz, which is a pile of shite. None of the major manufacturers saw it as a viable market. Now they're falling over each other to get in.
        • Renewable energy has always been hamstrung by its intermittent nature, and nobody's reckoned it was feasible to store it. Then Musk had his people string together a field full of batteries, and Australia doesn't have shagged electricity any more. And now other large projects like this are underway.

        Just because he doesn't win the race, it doesn't mean he hasn't accomplished something. He's changed the world. Well done to him. And I don't imagine he'll have trouble paying for cornflakes in the near future.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Don't bet against Elon Musk

          Tesla made electric cars sexy when the best of the rest was the G-Whizz, which is a pile of shite. None of the major manufacturers saw it as a viable market. Now they're falling over each other to get in.

          Mainly due to political and financial incentives. So subsidies for EVs, tax breaks and emission controls, penalties and announcements that ICE cars will be banned. So basically a rigged market to promote EVs over ICEs. And a lot of costs externalised that will grow inline with EV usage, ie increasing power generation to charge them.

          Renewable energy has always been hamstrung by its intermittent nature, and nobody's reckoned it was feasible to store it. Then Musk had his people string together a field full of batteries, and Australia doesn't have shagged electricity any more.

          Depends what you mean by 'feasible'. Technically, it's always been possible. But not done due to cost and inefficencies compared to traditional generation. But Australia went Green, spent a lot of money on 'renewables', discovered the problem of reliability/intermittencies and then spent even more on batteries. Now, Australians will be able to charge battery cars from batteries.. which is very inefficient and expensive. But if you socialise the costs by passing them onto all Australian electricity customers, it's all good. High electricity prices are just the price of being Green.

          If Australia had built a couple of modern coal power stations instead, it wouldn't have been 'shagged' by renewables, and their electricity costs would be much cheaper.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Don't bet against Elon Musk

          Recovering rockets was never deemed impossible. It was found to be uneconomic. It takes around 45% more capability in the rocket to bring the first stage back and there is no guarantee that it will prove to be entirely reusable or if there will be enough high value parts in good working order.

          Electric cars have just barely been viable. Now they are since with things like carbon taxes, a company can sell an EV at a loss while gaining credits that allow them to sell high margin, giant gas pigs. The bottom line is a sexy black and the company has a fresh coat of green wash. Lose the carbon credits and it's a different story.

          Australia borked itself by switching a system that was designed to operate with steady base load power plants to a system with variable and dispersed power inputs and no upgrades to the transmission and switching systems. Boom. Li batteries are a massively expensive way to implement grid level storage. Tesla might have lost their shorts on the Australia deal. They don't provide good enough detail in their financials to analyze that. The bigger question is what the cost differential in power prices is now in South Australia with the switch to renewables. It's not a bad thing to lower reliance on fossil fuels, but I don't want my electricity bill to sudden double. Although, it would make the ROI on installing solar panels look even better.

          In the business world, the score is kept by counting up profits. There are no bonus points for "saving the world" (one flamethrower at a time).

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Don't bet against Elon Musk

      "Its easy to talk about missing production deadlines as a bad thing in the context of a well established automotive industry, but Tesla is still a young automotive company who doesn't have a couple of generations of experience with production lines,"

      The lack of experience is a big handicap. It has to be pointed out that Tesla is also rapidly turning over top managers which is usually a good indication that the CEO can be something of an ass. The head of the Model 3 project left months before it's release with the ubiquitous PR statement of "spending more time with family". If things were fine, why wouldn't they stay on until the car was released? Something very smelly had to be going on since it looks very bad on a resume to bail out on a major product shortly before it's released for "personal reasons" that aren't "resign or you're fired".

      Beyond losing executives and managers, Elon fired a whole bunch of people in the last year and that is going to land the company in court. California law is very heavily weighted in the employees favor and if some of the former employees are telling the truth, proper protocol wasn't followed. All of Elon's companies are also notorious for burning out the rank and file with long hours, mandatory overtime and hazing of those that like to leave on time to go home to their families. I know a bunch of people that worked at SpaceX briefly. After being there for a few months, they added the job to their resume and started looking elsewhere.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Musk = Brezhnev?

    Back in the days of Socialism in the Soviet Union, getting a car was just like getting a Tesla today. Put your name down and wait a couple of years and hope that it would be delivered. And, or course, no complaining about quality or faults would be tolerated.

    Then there are many other parallels: an obsession with rocketry, haemorrhaging money, an over sensitivity to questioning or perceived criticism, a worship of technology.

    The difference is that Brezhnev seemed to be able to sustain personal relationships longer.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Musk = Brezhnev?

      "The difference is that Brezhnev seemed to be able to sustain personal relationships longer."

      Until he got old and probably mentally ill Brezhnev wasn't too bad.

      The story about him that I like is that a new economics minister was appointed and Brezhnev interviewed him.

      "What do you know about hunting?"

      "Well, nothing."

      "And I know nothing about economics. So, tell you what, I'll do the hunting and you do the economics."

      A lot of politicians could, I think, learn from that (especially Michael Gove, if he's capable of learning anything from anybody other than where to stick the knife in.)

  11. imanidiot Silver badge

    "production hell" but we'll soon fix it. You'll see!

    They've been saying they'd fix it and be on multiple thousand units per week for MONTHS now. To me it sounds more and more like they haven't the foggiest whats wrong and how to fix it. Like they're just sticking their fingers in their ears and humming loudly.

    1. unwarranted triumphalism

      Re: "production hell" but we'll soon fix it. You'll see!

      Careful now, you're not allowed to criticise The Holy One on this site.

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    They'll get there eventually

    The model 3 appears to be a fundamentally sound car. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be an early adopter while they sort out their build quality issues though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They'll get there eventually

      A friend of mine is retired from a senior QA position at one of the big manufacturers. He obviously had his choice of virtually any car they produced. His rule was to wait till a model had been in production for 18 months from the start of volume production.

      In the case of the Model 3 that looks like being around 2020. Perhaps the people at the end of the waiting list will actually be the beneficiaries of lessons learned.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: They'll get there eventually

        Well quite. Never buy version 1 of anything. Anyone working in software or hardware development should know this implicitly.

        No new vehicle ever rolls out with all its faults, bugs and quality issues sorted. Even with extensive testing, the manufacturer won't even know what they all are until people start crashing their cars, having them repaired / serviced etc.

        Tesla is in a worse situation than most because it's rushing out a vehicle without an automated production line and with a hard deadline. They've never had a good reputation for quality and there are reports of quailty issues in the new vehicle. Eventually they'll sort it but the early adopters are basically paying for a beta quality vehicle.

  13. hoola

    Trendy Tech losses are acceptable

    If this was anything other than an outfit with roots in Silicon Valley it would be dead and buried. This just highlights the insanity of the situation where perfectly viable manufacturing companies get pushed to the wall with far less debt and liabilities than Telsa.

  14. Spudley

    Rolling my eyes reading the usual rants and flames from each side of the bench. I'll try to avoid getting embroiled in that.

    But I wanted to comment just to raise issue with the sub-headline of the article:

    [blockquote]$250k went into orbit with that Roadster[/blockquote]

    Um, no. No it didn't. The Roadster was Musk's own personal car. Tesla didn't take a hit on it in any way at all. And even if they had it was a ten-year-old used car, and it didn't even cost $250k when it was new.

    The Falcon Heavy launch cost Tesla absolutely nothing, for what is easily the best bit of car advertising ever. Frankly, given the publicity it's generated, it would have been a bargain if they'd paid full price for the launch.

  15. Kev99 Bronze badge

    That "loss" is pure AICPA fiction. If it were a true loss, Tesla's auditor would, if they had any real ethics, declare the company inauditable and incapable of being an ongoing concern. Take away all the intangible and unverifiable expenses and Tesla probla made out like a bandit.

  16. Phryday

    Slightly off topic question.

    What did Musk do with the key to the Tesla that will now be in space for the next billion years or so?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "What did Musk do with the key to the Tesla that will now be in space for the next billion years or so?"

      I believe I read that the key is in the ignition. It's not going to help much since some have reported that the main battery pack isn't in the car.

  17. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    It's the bait-and-switch at Tesla which always amuses.

    We've made a sports car!

    It's flimsy and has limited range

    Who cares, we've made a saloon!

    It's crazily expensive and breaks down in cold weather

    Who cares, we've made an SUV

    Breaks down constantly, especially the doors

    Who cares, we're going to make a cheaper saloon.

    You can't make 'em, and the panels don't fit.

    Who cares, we'll make a ... erm ... truck! That's it, we'll make a truck.

    Another mock up, Elon?

    Who cares, rockets!

    1. kwhitefoot

      First I've heard of breakdowns because of cold weather. My S75D did a run from Oslo to Trondheim and back last month. It was minus 20C in the mountains. The car drove like a dream.

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