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Tesla Motors Shaken Up, Laying Off

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the i-want-my-i-want-my dept.

Transportation 491

tjstork writes "Tesla Motors, the darling of technorati for its high performance electric car, may be about to go belly up. Venture capital is cut off, layoffs are under way, and construction plans are being stretched out. Elon Musk has ousted the CEO and taken the reins, blaming the global credit crunch."

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Credit crunch my butt (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 6 years ago | (#25410933)

If your product works, or at least appears to, and you have a sound plan for getting it to market, where it will be purchased, then SOMEONE will loan you the money. If you're a slick dot-com shop with a foosball table and free soda for everyone, and your product consists of a slick name and spiffy presentations, then not so much.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (4, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | about 6 years ago | (#25410983)

Sadly, if Dilbert has taught me anything, it's actually the other way around....

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | about 6 years ago | (#25411221)

It's not just dilbert. If you've ever taken a marketing class, one of the first things they do it show you all the awesome products that failed miserably due to no or poor marketing.

If you have a good idea, you've got to remember you're only one of a million other people with a good idea - you've got to be able to sell yourself. Not saying that's what happened here, this could simply be them relying to heavily on un-confirmed income, just pointing out that marketing is a necessary part of business.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Funny)

acklenx (646834) | about 6 years ago | (#25411373)

Wow, the first thing they do in a marketing class is market marketing....

Re:Credit crunch my butt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25411479)

http://xkcd.com/125/

Read the alt text.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25411539)

Hey look! With this new fangled "HTML" thing we can make clickable words!

http://xkcd.com/125/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Credit crunch my butt (2, Insightful)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | about 6 years ago | (#25411601)

that's a cute joke, but really, the first thing they tell you in any class is why the subject matters and what you'll get out of it.

Electric Cars (1)

BodhiCat (925309) | about 6 years ago | (#25411543)

They just need to get the price point of electric cars in line with what the average consumer can afford. Until that happens they will be a luxary item and won't be selling in the numbers that we need to get off our hydrocarbon addiction.

Re:Electric Cars (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25411765)

Tesla's business plan involved selling the Roadster as a luxury item to raise funds for designing lower priced (and larger production run) electric cars. See planned models on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . Note that at time of writing Wikipedia still gives a 2010 date for the Model S, and the article says that is being pushed back about six months into 2011.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (4, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | about 6 years ago | (#25411565)

You are correct. However, what we have is not so much a credit crunch as we do a "Truth crunch." Peoples ability to use smoke and mirrors to get credit has dried up in an instant. Those without sound, impressive, and extremely plausable plans are being kicked out in the street. Those with marginal plans are probably taking the gas pipe as well.

People are not buying bullshit anymore. Not because they don't believe the bullshit; they never did. They are not buying it because they can not sell it on to someone else.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Funny)

machine321 (458769) | about 6 years ago | (#25411773)

Those with marginal plans are probably taking the gas pipe as well.

You miss the point, the Tesla doesn't have a gas pipe.

Mod parent up! (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | about 6 years ago | (#25411815)

The failure of our financial system in language anybody can understand. This comment is worth the price of admission. Well done sir!

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25411029)

If your product works, or at least appears to, and you have a sound plan for getting it to market, where it will be purchased, then SOMEONE will loan you the money.

Not necessarily so. For one thing, Tesla Motors has a long list of pre-orders, IIRC, and I believe they started shipping cars, so there is apparently sufficient demand for their product.

In this tight credit market, lenders are reluctant to lend money to even stable, established companies. They're not even issuing commercial paper -- which are short-term loans to other banks.

Venture capital usually doesn't mean that VC or "angel" fronts cash right out of their own bank account or even out of their investment accounts. Many times, they themselves are operating on loans -- if you have a lot of assets, like many VCs, it may be more better to keep your cash locked up and invest borrowed money because the interest rate you pay on the loan may be much cheaper than losing the interest from those investment accounts, especially if they have golden credit.

And if the VCs with the golden credit aren't getting loans, well, that shows you just how bad the credit market is.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 years ago | (#25411149)

Crap. The Tesla was the ONE 'green' car of any sort that I would have been interested in. It is the only one that isn't fugly and had great performance numbers, and a decent range for an electric car.

I had only hoped they'd go another couple years, drop the prices a few thousand, and have service centers in a few more areas near where I like to live.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 6 years ago | (#25411369)

I had only hoped they'd go another couple years, drop the prices a few thousand...

Hmm, so you wouldn't be willing to pay $109,000, but you would be willing to pay $103,000?

Re:Credit crunch my butt (4, Funny)

RulerOf (975607) | about 6 years ago | (#25411465)

He forgot the "dozen" before "thousand."

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25411419)

In general, the prices of car models don't drop much. The 'economies of scale' that works in consumer electronics is pretty much a non-starter in the automotive industry.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

jsight (8987) | about 6 years ago | (#25411487)

In general, the prices of car models don't drop much. The 'economies of scale' that works in consumer electronics is pretty much a non-starter in the automotive industry.

Yeah, that's why the Miata and the Lotus Elise are so close in price.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25411741)

Yeah, that's why the Miata and the Lotus Elise are so close in price.

When was the last time you've seen either one drop their suggested retail price significantly?

Re:Credit crunch my butt (3, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 6 years ago | (#25411587)

Not necessarily so. For one thing, Tesla Motors has a long list of pre-orders, IIRC, and I believe they started shipping cars, so there is apparently sufficient demand for their product.

In this tight credit market, lenders are reluctant to lend money to even stable, established companies. They're not even issuing commercial paper -- which are short-term loans to other banks.

How many of those pre-orders for their sports-car do you suppose will survive contact with this recession? My guess is not all that many. Of course there are new people that are making their fortune in this Bear market as we speak so perhaps it will even out for Tesla?? One thing Tesla could do in this market is to ally it self with one of the big US car makers, one of the ones that has no kind of experience in making 4-6 seat passenger cars that weigh in at below 5 metric tons and pack less than a 250 hp engine. These companies must be desperate to acquire expertise and engineering talent on how to make the kind of car that will sell in times of recession and toughening environmental legislation. That, IMHO, will be cheap and light electric or plugin-hybrid cars.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (4, Insightful)

baldass_newbie (136609) | about 6 years ago | (#25411043)

You really don't understand market economies. There are a lot of great ideas that never reach the market. It isn't enough to have a 'good idea'. Betamax was a 'good idea'. How was their market share?

Re:Credit crunch my butt (4, Informative)

inviolet (797804) | about 6 years ago | (#25411667)

You really don't understand market economies. There are a lot of great ideas that never reach the market. It isn't enough to have a 'good idea'. Betamax was a 'good idea'. How was their market share?

Your idea is correct but PLEASE pick a better example to illustrate it with. Betamax was more expensive and had much shorter recording time per tape. For most consumers, these disadvantages very rationally trumped its higher video resolution.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25411049)

During the Great Depression lots of people had great products (cars, houses, radios), but since one-quarter of people were jobless, almost nobody was buying these products.

About the only 1930s industry that profited was the movie industry, mainly because people wanted to escape reality, even if only for three hours.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25411263)

Actually, the military industry sustained growth. In fact, even when the US was an autarchy between WW1 and WW2 the economy grew.

Two things to remember: a) the rest of the world was in the great depression too, b) engaging in a huge war got us out by spurring heavy industry to create jobs and produce war machines, bombs, and bullets.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (2, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | about 6 years ago | (#25411673)

Something I've never understood is how the government got the money to pay for the war machines, bombs, and bullets. I mean, you hear all the time how that got us out of the depression, but it just doesn't add up.

Was the government printing money at that point? Is that what did it? Because overprinting money is generally not a good thing, and is arguably one of the reasons we're having problems right now.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | about 6 years ago | (#25411749)

"The war saved the economy" is one of those fascinating "facts" that gets repeated constantly but which simply doesn't hold up if you look at it closely.

Consider a similar situation: the government places orders for all sorts of war supplies. Tanks, planes, food, ammo, etc. They all get loaded up on trucks and trains and taken to sea ports. At the ports they are loaded onto cargo ships. Once full, the ships leave port, sail out to sea, and shove everything into the ocean.

And just for good measure, a large fraction of the ships themselves are also sunk.

The remaining ships come back for more, and the shipyards build replacements for the sunken ships.

Economically, this situation is identical to what you experience during a major overseas war such as WWII. But somehow, shoving thousands of tanks and planes into the ocean, and tons of food and ammunition right behind it, doesn't seem like a net gain. In fact, it seems an awful lot like a net loss.

Maybe extra government spending on the war stimulated the economy. But nothing about that stimulus required a war, and indeed without the war it could have been done much better and less wastefully.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25411813)

Precisely.

When World War II ended, the economic recession known as the Depression came back in full force. WW2 didn't solve the problem; it merely created a huge debt and massive inflation, which required years for the U.S. government to finally restore the paper dollar to match the gold dollar.

The Depression started in 1929, and did not truly end until the mid-1950s when the DOW index finally matched 1920s levels.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (2, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | about 6 years ago | (#25411851)

Bonds. People use there savings to help fund the government to fund the war.

While I'm not sure of the accuracy, this is really the underlying story of Flags of Our Fathers. In the movie at least Bond purchases had dried up so much that the war was on the brink of not being fundable and peace may have had to be negotiated. Thus the whirl wind tour of heros to drum up public support. Accurate or not, I don't know, but basis is valid

Also, since we aren't with a gold standard we just print more money and deficit spend. Which is what we are doing now with the bailouts. The downside here being by increases money in circulation you devalue the dollar, ie inflation. That's usually not seen as a problem in the timeframe of a war and can be corrected late ron.

Three hours? (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 6 years ago | (#25411451)

During the 1950s for sure, and I think during the 1930s as well, "continuous performances" were the norm. You could stay as long as you liked. And the full program lasted more than three hours.

One of the reasons movies contained so many redundancies in their scripts and plotting was that it was assumed that people would arrive in the middle of the movie, stay through the rest of the movie, the second feature, the coming attractions, the newsreel, the short subjects, the cartoon, and the first part of the movie.

Hence the expression "this is where we came in."

Re:Credit crunch my butt (3, Informative)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 6 years ago | (#25411073)

their product takes time to work out the lumps because their pioneering. The lure of the product was that Tesla was doing this because other companies wouldn't and someday that'd be big.

In the last few weeks the feds kicked in $25 Billion (with a B) to the plain-ole auto companies to compete with them. That's more funding than Tesla will ever get even if they made a profit ... VCs are jumping ship.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

Smelly Jeffrey (583520) | about 6 years ago | (#25411199)

[citation needed]

Re:Credit crunch my butt (5, Funny)

digitalsolo (1175321) | about 6 years ago | (#25411327)

My company has free soda.

Luckily we have a Ping Pong table instead of foosball, or we'd be totally boned.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 6 years ago | (#25411355)

Most people will be buying these cars on credit. If they can't that they can't get one, so that could affect their sales.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about 6 years ago | (#25411647)

It's a $100,000 car. If you were going to buy one, you'd either write a check or you have enough (verifiable) income that you can still get a loan.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | about 6 years ago | (#25411533)

They may be using the credit crunch as an excuse. But, right now, there are issues with getting credit. Even solid companies like GE were having issues getting credit to continue operation. Those loans are about as sure as anything, but banks are trying to shore up cash right now, and money is hard to get.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25411613)

No suprise here. Just following Bricklin, Dale, DeLorean and all those others that were smarter and more nimble than Detroit's big three.

Re:Credit crunch my butt (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | about 6 years ago | (#25411745)

If your product works, or at least appears to, and you have a sound plan for getting it to market, where it will be purchased, then SOMEONE will loan you the money. If you're a slick dot-com shop with a foosball table and free soda for everyone, and your product consists of a slick name and spiffy presentations, then not so much.

DING DING! We have a winner!

I realize that this may come as a shocker to many here at /., but the terrible truth is, there really isn't a large market for all-electrics yet. Yes, there IS a market. it's a NICHE market for high-end toys for the Hollywood rich. But the average middle-class suburbanite non-eco-hippy non-leftist (most of America) is NOT interested in buying an expensive toy. NOT ONLY can they not afford one, they wouldn't get one even if they could. They simply aren't interested.

Now, before I get a dozen responses of "Hey! You are wrong. I live in suburbia and I would buy one!" Let me ask you: DID YOU pre-order one? No? Then shut it. All you have is good intentions and fantasy. The reality is: Tesla motors is going belly-up due to a lack of a market for their car. JUST like every other major attempt at an all-electric. This will continue to happen until all-electric cars can match or exceed the complete package of a gasoline car. That includes, top speed, total range, available power and torque, the range of conditions it can reliably function in, SPEED AND EASE of refueling, TCO, and initial investment cost.

Electrics are nice, but they just can't match gas cars on all those points simultaneously. The technology isn't mature enough. hopefully it will be someday soon. But it isn't yet. Thus all-electric car companies will continue to fail.

Waste of time (1, Flamebait)

fatalwall (873645) | about 6 years ago | (#25410939)

Are we really going to freak out every time a company is having financial trouble? So many companies are effected that we'll just be flooded by them.

Not a waste of time (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 6 years ago | (#25411017)

I think what we can learn from this is that we gotta read the signs of financial trouble.

Can't you read the signs?

Unappealing except for early adopters (4, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 6 years ago | (#25410943)

There is limited desire for the first generation of a car that costs $110,000.

The L.A. Times article has more detail. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 6 years ago | (#25411035)

Correction: The car Tesla Motors has for sale now costs $109,000.

The L.A. Times article has more detail: Tesla Motors hits the brakes amid credit crisis [latimes.com] .

Re:The L.A. Times article has more detail. (3, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25411183)

Correction: The car Tesla Motors has for sale now costs $109,000.

Oh, well, that's so much cheaper! Maybe I can afford one now. /me checks wallet

Nope. I seem to me about $108,999 short.

Damn.

Re:Unappealing except for early adopters (3, Informative)

FileNotFound (85933) | about 6 years ago | (#25411159)

Yes...the demand is so very limited that they have preorders for every single car that's scheduled to roll off the assembly line till 2009.

Demand is not the issue at all.

The issue is that they cannot get loans. This means that their only way to survive is to become profitable now as opposed to take out loans that they'd fully be able to repay later.

Re:Unappealing except for early adopters (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 6 years ago | (#25411401)

This is a *sport* car. That can go to 60 MPH in less time than most Ferrarris and Porsches. Your regular telecommuter does not need this, your average eco-yuppie will love it.

Unrelated : Slashdot tells me I was to concise in my post and that I must wait 5 more minutes so I guess it is okay that I add garbage at the end of this post. Really, what purpose does this 'one post per 5 minutes' rule is supposed to bring ? Discussions on an article can only occur during its 3-4 hours of visibility, and usually by people who spend a 5 minutes break on the website. I am really tempted to make a second account...

Misleading summary (5, Informative)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | about 6 years ago | (#25410951)

Tesla isn't going belly up. They are waiting with further developing their Sedan until they can get a cheaper loan. next year or so.

Re:Misleading summary (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 6 years ago | (#25410971)

They are waiting with further developing their Sedan until they can get a cheaper loan. next year or so. I hope you are correct. I always hate to see a new venture go down.

Re:Misleading summary (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25411223)

until they can get a cheaper loan. next year or so

Pffft. Don't hold your breath. I hear we're in for a looooonnnng ride down....

Re:Misleading summary (1)

freedom_india (780002) | about 6 years ago | (#25411307)

Probably Tesla motors would be sold to Chrysler or Ford.
Both GM and Chrysler have EVs today.
Ford doesn't.
If Ford had brains, it would acquire Tesla and work it into its brand pretty easily.
They could have another Mustang on their hands.
But sadly, ford is dumber than Jessica Simpson. So Tesla would be acquired by either Honda or Hyndai.

Re:Misleading summary (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | about 6 years ago | (#25411631)

problem is - none of the US car manufacturers (or all but a few foreign ones) can afford to buy anything right now. GM would be lucky not to go bankrupt by the end of the decade...

Re:Misleading summary (1)

dnoyeb (547705) | about 6 years ago | (#25411643)

I doubt Ford has the cash reserves for such an acquisition. And we know they won't be getting a loan. Unless its from the feds.

Like their namesake? (5, Funny)

that this is not und (1026860) | about 6 years ago | (#25410963)

Maybe, like Nickolai Tesla, they were just destined to have a great beginning but go nuts toward mid life.

Re:Like their namesake? (1, Redundant)

neokushan (932374) | about 6 years ago | (#25411021)

The thing that intrigues me about Tesla, to this day, is that from his very humble beginnings, everyone always thought he was nuts and thinking about the impossible. From the science teacher that told him that his AC/DC converter was as viable as a "Perpetual motion" machine, to Edison himself who claimed he was dangerous and slightly insane, he still kept proving them wrong and was able to push hard enough to show that he was actually right the whole time.
It was only later, when he was much older that people were able to fight him off from creating his inventions that he was labelled as crazy or insane but I do wonder if they had anything to them after all.

Re:Like their namesake? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 6 years ago | (#25411153)

I think you hit the nail on the head, here. I hear people say 'It's impossible!' all the time and think of things like this. Even 'perpetual motion machines' (which I understand why they are impossible) should not stop being someone's dream because they may find a way to create something that's close enough as doesn't matter, or serves some other useful function.

They should, however, stop professing to have made one until they can actually prove it and stand the scrutiny... That may have been Tesla's mistake as well: Don't tell people you can do it until you have.

Re:Like their namesake? (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25411255)

As Oscar Levant once observed, there is a fine line between insanity and genius.

Now if I only I could convince my shrink that I'm actually a genius...

Re:Like their namesake? (2, Funny)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 6 years ago | (#25411329)

Good luck with that. Once you're a genius, the shrink will have trouble paying off his new pool so I doubt he's gonna be happy about this idea of yours.

Re:Like their namesake? (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 6 years ago | (#25411367)

Now if I only I could convince my shrink that I'm actually a genius...

I don't think that's a good idea until after the trial is over.

Just sayin, IANAL, this is not legal advice and so forth.

Re:Like their namesake? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 6 years ago | (#25411383)

It was only later, when he was much older that people were able to fight him off from creating his inventions

It wasn't people that stopped him from realizing many of his later ideas.

It was the laws of physics.

Re:Like their namesake? (1)

neokushan (932374) | about 6 years ago | (#25411501)

That hadn't stopped him before...

Re:Like their namesake? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 6 years ago | (#25411637)

That hadn't stopped him before...

Probably because success of his earlier work didn't actually depend on violating the laws of physics.

Re:Like their namesake? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 6 years ago | (#25411757)

Edison himself who claimed he was dangerous and slightly insane

Edison only said that as long as Tesla was the competition.

Re:Like their namesake? (4, Funny)

thermian (1267986) | about 6 years ago | (#25411033)

Tesla was OK I guess, but those lightening towers he built for the Russians used to tear up my tanks something rotten, the barstard.

Re:Like their namesake? (1)

BodhiCat (925309) | about 6 years ago | (#25411493)

You just have to wait until you can build up a fleet of bombers and send them to take out the Telsa coils. They take so long to recharge, they can't get every bomber and one will get through. --Tiberian Son

Re:Like their namesake? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | about 6 years ago | (#25411825)

I wonder if playing with major wattage had anything to do with it, sort of like frying your brain from the outside in.

Irony (5, Insightful)

Lil'wombat (233322) | about 6 years ago | (#25410965)

GM losing billions and getting loans to retool for
Greener, more efficient vehicles like hybrids and while the real innovators go under.

Re:Irony (5, Interesting)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 6 years ago | (#25411051)

Tesla Motors struggling doesn't affect millions of Americans.

I work for Honda and I don't want to see GM or Ford go belly up because it would hurt us as well as Toyota. We've already had to deal with numerous suppliers shutting down due to GM/Ford plant closures. A good portion of our suppliers built parts for multiple OEMs. When the bigger ones go belly up, the ripple is felt throughout the supply chain.

GM or Ford going out of business might give us more sales, but considering how many suppliers would shut down, our business would suffer immensely. That doesn't even consider the number of people who lose their job and no longer afford buying the car.

I don't like the bail out, the Detroit automakers had poor vision and now are suffering for it, but it's bad for the industry if they don't survive.

Re:Irony (4, Informative)

FileNotFound (85933) | about 6 years ago | (#25411239)

Ford and GM going belly up wouldn't magically cause them and their billions of assets, be it physical or intellectual to disappear.

What you'd have is companies breaking away from the main brand and being sold off. Ford would let Mazda go, GM Saab and so on.

What would die would be the GM/Ford brand names along with the pension plans and other UAW union benefits. Which frankly is a good thing for the US auto industry in the long run.

Re:Irony (1)

cabjf (710106) | about 6 years ago | (#25411407)

Even those domestic brand names would be bought up. After all, what import company wouldn't want a domestic nameplate to sell their vehicles under?

Re:Irony (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | about 6 years ago | (#25411705)

Well, Honda already has Acura, Toyota has Scion...

Apparently everyone else?

Great idea (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | about 6 years ago | (#25411819)

What would die would be the GM/Ford brand names along with the pension plans and other UAW union benefits. Which frankly is a good thing for the US auto industry in the long run.

Yes, because the wage declines experienced in America due to competition for low paying jobs with no benefits leads to more low paying jobs with no benefits.

Germany still manages to have strong unions, competitive products, and they actually pay their pensions, because they're required to by law. The only people that benefit from union busting are the CEOs that make 300 times their average worker's salary, versus European CEOs who make about 35 times more than their average worker.

If you want to know which policy is more valuable, take a look at the Euro and the Pound versus the Dollar. This anti-Socialism nonsense is based in a fantasy world where facts are non-existent, and anecdotes trump reality.

Re:Irony (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 6 years ago | (#25411325)

Being ready to let new innovative businesses die to let old, obsolete businesses to live, whatever the social cost, is a bad policy. Tesla Motors could become the GM of the future. Or both could go bankrupt.

Re:Irony (2, Interesting)

captbob2002 (411323) | about 6 years ago | (#25411087)

If GM lasts long enough to build it there is real innovation in the Chevrolet Volt [wikipedia.org] .

Tesla is interesting in its way, but it is not a car that many could hope to afford. Perhaps the best thing Tesla Motors has done is convince Bob Lutz that GM could/should make a real effort at at practical electric car.

Additional Volt information [gm-volt.com] from a fan of the project.

Re:Irony (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25411333)

GM isn't going anywhere. The only thing that might happen is that they could end up getting bought out by either Toyota, Carlos Ghosn, or, more likely, an industry outsider looking to get into the market.

Anyway you look at it, GM will survive to make the Volt. That's the last thing any sane executive would decide to cut.

Re:Irony (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 6 years ago | (#25411677)

It's *so* innovative and desirable that every taxpayer in America is forced to pay for the $7500 tax credit for those who buy one.

Re:Irony (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | about 6 years ago | (#25411747)

I saw an interesting interview with Bob Lutz within the last several weeks in which he was discussing the Volt. He mentioned the major initiatives of the last few years including Ethanol only, Hydrogen fuel cells, and now EV's. He mentioned that, with the newest venture, the Volt, the problem is the cost of making a system that is feasible in terms of size of the vehicle and range, and balancing that with cost.

Re:Irony (1)

ryanvm (247662) | about 6 years ago | (#25411731)

Greener? Ha. Thousands of noxious lithium-ion batteries and a car that burns > 1 MWh per year while parked [engadget.com] is not my idea of green.

Re:Irony (2, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 6 years ago | (#25411763)

Interestingly, I see Ford better surviving in this new, leaner climate for auto sales.

The reason is simple: Ford already has a product line (the European Ford division) that can within a few years be the backbone of most of their sales in the USA. We're stating to see the fruits of that change now: the 4th-generation Ford Fiesta will arrive in the USA around January 2010, the third-generation Ford Focus will arrive in the USA probably summer 2010, and Ford has begun work to essentially merge the European Mondeo and US-market Fusion into a single model.

Re:Irony (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | about 6 years ago | (#25411777)

The problem is that GM is bankrupt, but it also has made a fantastic amount of pension promises without funding them. At some point, GM will be crushed under that weight, and there will be an army of angry pensioners suddenly thrust into poverty. They will blame whichever government is in power. This is a disaster for the politicians seated at the time.

As a solution, our friendly government has decided to loan ever-increasing amounts of our tax money to GM in hopes of prolonging it's life until their terms are up.

Tesla may be exactly what America needs, but it isn't a political issue, so it isn't going to get free loans from the taxpayers.

Re:Irony (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#25411817)

People keep saying how innovative Tesla is/was?
But the Tesla roadster was nothing but an electric race car.. It is very expensive and not all that practical. They have not even shipped any to customers yet. We have no idea if they can even make a profit at $110,000 each.
Toyota, Ford, Honda, and GM are shipping hybrids now. The Volt from GM and the new all electric from Chrysler are both pretty innovative and best of all probably producible.

The Tesla Roadster is at best an expensive exotic toy. At wost an unproductive fantasy.
Tesla will not usher in the era of alternative vehicles. It will be Toyta, GM, Ford, Honda and all the other big car companies.

this would be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25410979)

if it were the electro car for the masses.

But the reality is this car is a novelty or luxury item for rich people.

On top of that, there is no real ground breaking technology used / developed for this car, so goodbye!

not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25411275)

Their battery pack design is pretty unique, all liquid cooled per cell, to make LiIon batteries safe to use in cars when you need thousands of them to make up a pack.

Tesla's been on the decline for some time (3, Funny)

bugeaterr (836984) | about 6 years ago | (#25410995)

By my reckoning, ever since "Five Man Acoustical Jam".

Re:Tesla's been on the decline for some time (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 6 years ago | (#25411135)

Just when I thought I'd completely forgotten about that, some Internet jackass thinks it'd be a good idea to bring it up. Thanks a lot, asshole... :)

Building cars is not like writing software. Duh. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25410997)

Tesla Motors consistently overpromised and underdelivered on their product. Their ambitions far outweighed their ability to execute their business plan, and their product roadmap was beyond with their engineering talent.

Au revoir, Tesla. Looks like the first really useful production electric cars will come from a real car company (like Renault/Nissan), not a bunch of Internet egoists.

I'm not terribly surprised (2, Insightful)

GuloGulo (959533) | about 6 years ago | (#25411003)

They make a very interesting product, but the price, combined with the low production numbers and quality control issues, meant the roadster at least would never be anything but a niche product.

Now that the money is drying up, any chance to transition from a dreamy eyed startup to a real manufacturer may be drying up with it.

What the programmer had to say about the car... (4, Interesting)

Jodka (520060) | about 6 years ago | (#25411053)

Wil Shipley [wikipedia.org] of Delicious Monster [delicious-monster.com] test drove a Tesla and wrote about it in his blog. [wilshipley.com]

Here is part of what he had to say about:

It's crazy-fast. It handles like a jet fighter. It gets the equivalent of about 140 mpg. It has no gears. It requires almost no maintenance.e It's gorgeous. It's whisper-quiet. And, in Seattle, runs off hydro power.

Re:What the programmer had to say about the car... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 6 years ago | (#25411597)

And, in Seattle, runs off hydro power.

Not true. Since electricity is a fungible commodity, it essentially runs off the national average mix of power plant energy sources, regardless of where it is located.

We need tech startups to live (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 6 years ago | (#25411203)

Tesla was building something amazing. It is unfortunate to see a company making something so cutting edge have to scale back or even fold. Especially when it isn't because of their own fault (or is it, and they are using this as an excuse?) These types of companies are the future, and the world loses a lot when these types of companies don't make it.

Re:We need tech startups to live (3, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | about 6 years ago | (#25411297)

Tesla was building something amazing.

A Lotus with lots of mobile phone batteries thrown in that would become an environmental nightmare if it caught on in the mass market. Goodbye Tesla.

Re:We need tech startups to live (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 years ago | (#25411395)

A Lotus with lots of mobile phone batteries thrown in that would become an environmental nightmare if it caught on in the mass market. Goodbye Tesla.
Hey, I've GOT a Lotus, and it is not crammed with batteries, but it gets the highest MPG out of all the vehicles in my household. Plus it's the fastest, most nimble, and sexiest.

Re:We need tech startups to live (1)

Knuckles (8964) | about 6 years ago | (#25411727)

Lotuses are way cool, no doubt, and their dedication to light weight construction should become more important again. But it's not as if Tesla has done something revolutionary. Sports cars rebuilt with ultimately unsuitable battery concepts abound, see e.g., the Ledl Elektro [austroclassic.com] . Tesla were certainly more apt at promoting theirs and trying in California after 2000 probably helped, as compared to Austria in the eighties ;)

Re:We need tech startups to live (1, Flamebait)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 6 years ago | (#25411429)

Tesla was building something amazing.

They weren't building something amazing. They were building an $110,000 electric go-kart. It wasn't going to be the big eco-friendly planet-saver that people made it out to be, because making each battery pack contaminated an area of China the size of the average suburban back garden. It wasn't innovative, because it was just a little light car with a big electric motor and a huge battery pack, all made from conventional parts. It wouldn't even be that practical as a sports car, because it didn't have the range to drive it anywhere fun to play with it.

It's an extremely expensive novelty. I'm not terribly surprised they're finding it hard right now. That doesn't mean I don't feel sympathetic towards them, but with things the way they are right now they might have been wiser to try and build a practical vehicle. Maybe if they took something like a small car-derived van and adapted that to run all day at town speeds on a battery pack, they'd have something that would sell. Or electric taxis, that would be brilliant.

Fired the CEO (2, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 years ago | (#25411437)

Elon Musk has ousted the CEO and taken the reins, blaming the global credit crunch.
That's odd. Usually when a CEO totally fscks up a company, they give him huge bonuses and lay off more technical workers. In this case, they are admitting that it is due to the global credit crunch, which I am pretty sure is not the CEOs fault, and yet they are firing him anyway.
Bizarre.

Never was excited about them (1)

Dark_MadMax666 (907288) | about 6 years ago | (#25411519)

Overpriced car on electric batteries. Batteries = not good if mass produced. They do a lot more harm to environment than your regular engines. Good riddance

Re:Never was excited about them (1)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | about 6 years ago | (#25411615)

Ditto. Tesla was never a viable green solution simply because of the sticker price. If they had been interested in proactive change and not cashing in a potential current fashion trend in green cars, they would have, well, cashed in. As it is, they got what was coming to them. Bye.

Web 2.0 capital crunch worst than Web 1.0 (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 6 years ago | (#25411561)

The largest tech VC firm estimated over a quarter of startups will die due to capital problems in a recent Wired story.

America !spending money on energy innovation? (1)

securityfolk (906041) | about 6 years ago | (#25411579)

I thought we (America) were going to invest in new "green" automobile technology, energy and whatnot... Is Tesla motors exempt from this new influx of cash?? If so, what a shame - they seem to really be breaking new ground here.

Tesla Broke? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 6 years ago | (#25411663)

What shock and a jolt to the green car movement. Although, with current economic events; it's not surprising they lack the juice to continue.

Re:Tesla Broke? (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 6 years ago | (#25411807)

However, somebody may snap up the Tesla technology and use it on their own. I wouldn't be surprised that either Honda or Toyota may bid on this, since both companies are heavily involved in hybrid drivetrain technology and could use Tesla's drivetrain technology to develop more advanced hybrid drivetrains, include plug-in hybrids.

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