Stealth Bloodbath @ Tesla Motors
Last fall Martin Eberhard got pushed out of Tesla Motors, and he's since launched a new blog
The first two postings are detailing a drastic change in the culture @ Tesla Motors, and indicate a deep turmoil in the company.
He offers this interesting question:
Is this really the right time for Tesla to be tightening its belt this drastically? Really? Right now, when clean tech investment is THE hot investment field and when Tesla Motors is the poster child of clean tech companies, Tesla should be able to raise as much money as it needs to finish the Roadster and launch Whitestar, even with its current technical difficulties. After all, Tesla has proved its fundamental concept: An EV can be a car that rocks, while also being the greenest machine on the road. Tesla’s difficulties are relatively mundane: get the transmission working (and whatever other bits are still to do) and ship the cars. No show stoppers here!
This makes for a curious story alright. I've lived and worked in Silicon Valley for almost 20 years. Usually when a CEO gets pushed out there's a serious problem that threatens the company's survival. In this case there have been delays getting the car to production quality, and making the production vehicles.
Martin is right, this moment IS the window of opportunity for an EV. There is no better time than right now to double down an investment in an EV company.
At the end though the CEO works for the investors and the investors call the tune. They must be scared. Or...? The conspiratorial mindset in me is suggesting the powers-that-be want to shut down this company before it becomes a success.
The conspiratorial mindset in me is suggesting the powers-that-be want to shut down this company before it becomes a success.
I just can't think there's anyone who would want to do that. There's no auto or oil money invested as far as I know. The folks are all from the tech side of the money world (Google, PayPal etc.) - doesn't the chief guy (Elon Musk?) also own a solar panel venture? (Perhaps he's pissed that NanoSolar seems to be so much better!)
I expect that Martin is simplifying the issues - sure, if it were really just a transmission issue then surely the company themselves would be proclaiming that and offering new delivery targets? I suspect that there might be another bigger issue - but I've no real idea what it might be.
Tesla and Zap both are working with Lotus Engineering to produce an electric super car. I think the major problem for Tesla is that it doesn't have the production capacity. Watch for ZAP's joint venture with Youngman in China. This is possibly one of the most important relationships for the future of the EV movement, unless Honda, Toyota, etc...committ to pure EV which is unlikely. So far, it would appear that Youngman, who is the world's largest luxury bus manufacturer, is the only Chinese Co. capable of the quality. And ZAP is the only US company daring enough to manufacture in China. Lotus' former CEO, Albert Lam, just set up office in ZAP's headquarters in CA. That says it all for me.
Yeah - the Zap-X sure is a great looking concept and knowing that Lotus is involved is a good thing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed - heck at $60K I might even consider selling an internal organ or two to buy one (155mph, 4 wheel drive, 300 mile range and 10 minute recharge are the hyperbole figures - oh and it seats up to 7 rather than only 2).
You would have to say the Zap-X is a great looking concept. Features and style are just great and even the estimated price is at the right point to compete directly within the segment it is pitched. Well Lotus is Lotus and they just have a knack for producing special cars so their involvement is a real positive. Smart move to hit the 4WD soft road market as this really has continued to thrive despite the fuel price increases so it obviously has wide market appeal.
Good luck to them I say.