Elon Musk

Bad Earnings and Subsidy Controversy Hound Musk, Tesla

Elon Musk ModelSLast time NLPC checked on Tesla Motors – as 2014 closed – we noted a growing skepticism largely due to CEO Elon Musk’s consistent habit of overpromising production and results, without delivering.

Then ten days ago he reported year-end earnings, and matters have worsened, although you wouldn’t know it from most of the undeterred “rah-rah” media and Wall Street fanboys. But there are exceptions.

Is Tesla Shine Wearing Off as 2014 Closes?

Elon Musk IronManIt’s been another year of unwarranted enthusiasm for Tesla Motors and CEO Elon Musk, who parlayed that exuberance for his unprofitable company into a $1.3 billion incentives package from the state of Nevada.

But despite that legislatively unanimous award from three months ago, and a stock price that has flown high for most of the year, there are signs that the shine over the luxury electric automaker is beginning to dull.

Perhaps the most noteworthy skepticism has arisen from popular automotive Web site Jalopnik, which otherwise has been a fairly reliable (but not robotically so) cheerleader for Tesla. An end-of-year article written by blogger Damon Lavrinc recounts the automaker’s legacy of non-fulfillment and asks, “What will Tesla and Elon Musk over-promise next?”

Tesla D Buyers Shouldn't Get Tax Credit

Tesla D and Elon MuskEnvironmentally conscientious, wealthy car enthusiasts are in luck! The much-hyped "D" unveiling came last week as Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, presented what appears to be a very impressive version of its plug-in Model S electric car called the P85D. Boasting 691 horsepower, 687 ft/lb of torque, AWD and a blazing 3.2 second zero to sixty time, the new rich peoples' toy is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $120,000. In fact, the car is so darn impressive that the only obvious question is why in the world do we need to give the affluent purchasers of cars like this a federal tax credit of $7,500 each?

Tesla Soaks Nevada for $1.3B in Corporate Welfare; Just the Beginning

Tesla logoThere was little doubt that once CEO Elon Musk and Tesla announced they would locate their electric vehicle battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada, that Silver State lawmakers would vote in a special legislative session to support targeted tax breaks and incentives – even at the breathtaking amount of $1.3 billion.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, the courter, would have appeared an extreme fool if he didn’t already have the political backing needed for the deal. But there were other mini-surprises: Unanimity at the legislature; four separate bills passed to construct the package; and benefits enjoyed by other industries in Nevada that were rescinded to help with the Tesla payoff.

Tesla Wants to Put 'Gigafactory' Battery Plant in Nevada

Elon Musk ModelSOnly a year after Tesla Motors and CEO Elon Musk extracted themselves from the $465-million taxpayer stimulus loan that brought critical scrutiny to the company’s performance, the electric automaker has once again put itself under the spotlight that comes with taking government corporate welfare.

Today the company will announce its plans to build a battery manufacturing plant near Reno. The new gambit was the culmination of competition that pitted at least five states against one another for the “privilege” of hosting Tesla’s “Gigafactory” – named so because of the amount of stored power they plan to produce. Cost to build the plant is estimated to be $5 billion, and Musk said he expected the winning bidder to cover at least 10 percent of that, according to the Associated Press. That means at least $500 million in some form of incentives or conciliations from Silver State taxpayers.

Tesla Enthusiasm for Battery Swap Wanes After Subsidies Disappear

Elon Musk IronManNLPC has extensively documented how Tesla Motors has taken advantage of market distortions to reap revenues – including government mandates, subsidies, and taxpayer support – not the least of which have been so-called “zero emission credits” from the state of California. But much of the revenue Tesla enjoyed last year – which often meant the difference between profit and loss – was credited based upon theoretical technological capabilities and not ones actually put into practice.

CEO Elon Musk has also relied on accounting gimmicks to enhance his bottom line over the last 18 months, during which a couple of quarterly earnings reports even showed a profit – albeit under non-Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Those handsome returns were achieved in part thanks to a scheme administered under the California Air Resources Board in which additional zero emission credits are awarded to vehicle manufacturers based upon the ability for models to “fast fuel.” In the case of Tesla and other electric vehicle makers, the faster a car can recharge to the point it can drive a longer distance, the more credits it receives.

Space Launch Deal Puts Spotlight on Revolving Door

Correll photoWashington's metaphorical "revolving door" keeps on spinning. A recent case involving a former Air Force procurement official is at the center of a high-stakes dispute over the launching of rockets into space, and the huge contracts that go with them.

From March 2011 to January of this year, Roger "Scott" Correll (in photo) was the official at the Pentagon responsible for procuring launch services from private companies. One of his last official acts before his "retirement" in January was to oversee a deal with a company called United Launch Alliance (ULA) for a whopping 36 future launches. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed.

Fisker Sold to Chinese, Another Tesla Fire, More Stimulus Failure

Elon MuskLast week bankrupt Fisker Automotive was sold to a Chinese company, and Tesla Motors experienced another fire in one of its Model S electric cars.

The Obama administration Green-stimulus losing streak continues. The two luxury electric automaking companies, where the Department of Energy deemed taxpayer “investments” should be placed at risk, don’t inspire confidence.

After Denial, Tesla Mailing New Connectors Following Calif. Fire

Emily LitellaWere the late Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner still with us today, Tesla Motors might look to her character Emily Litella for its latest public relations campaign to address overheating and fires with its Model S charging systems.

“Never mind,” the Weekend Update commentator would say.

That’s was also essentially the response from Tesla on Friday when the company announced – after it had vehemently denied any culpability about overheating systems or power cords just three weeks earlier – that it would send all Model S owners new cords to replace the defective old ones. This followed a garage fire in Irvine, Calif., which local authorities blamed on either “a high resistance connection at the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connector from the Tesla charging system.” New charger connectors will be mailed in the next two weeks, according to a Bloomberg report.

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