Is Tesla For Real?

By Lloyd Graff

Kids in Jump Seats in a Tesla Model S

I’ve driven in a Tesla. It’s for real. If you are making parts for internal combustion engines, I am warning you – things are changing. Tesla means it when they tell us they are coming out with their BMW 3 Series competitor in 2017. They plan to price it between $30,000 and $35,000. They think they can sell as many as they can make. The Fremont, California, plant (San Francisco) may be able to ramp up to 500,000 units per year.

Some people sneer when they see Tesla Motors stock valued higher than Nissan. Scoffers always doubt the real movers and shakers – like Elon Musk.

Tesla made 6900 Model S cars last quarter. They can sell as many as they can make at $80,000 a pop – because it is the sweetest car on the road. They have just been cleared to sell in China. Roomy, quiet as your bedroom, beautiful ride, fabulous sound system, superb amenities, no hump in the front or back, and trunks in the front and rear because the engine is underneath the car. You get a $7500 tax credit if you buy one, $2500 more in California. The equivalent of a $60 gas fill up costs you $12 in electricity. They give an 8-year guarantee on the battery, but it may last a lot longer.

My son-in-law wants to replace his 13-year-old BMW 3 model to accommodate his three growing girls. He liked the Audi A6 – until he drove the Tesla with me in the backseat.


The contest for signing the 25-year-old Japanese pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, was fascinating. The New York Yankees finally signed the phenom, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japanese professional baseball last year. By all accounts, Tanaka’s stuff was amazing last year – his splitter was unhittable. Japanese pro ball is stiff competition, but is Tanaka the real deal? How do you value a pitcher who has never pitched against Big Papi, Joey Votto or Miguel Cabrera? How do you gauge the likelihood of an arm blowout like that of last year’s wonder boy Steve Harvey, or a flameout like Daisuke Matsuzaka’s career a few years ago?


I have been listening to the sequel to Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, the excellent book about the 2008 Presidential election. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s new book, Double Down: Game Change 2012, gives the inside baseball of the 2012 election. We learn how a wounded Barack Obama easily defeated a damaged, flawed Mitt Romney by being shrewd and allowing Romney and the Republicans to self-destruct.

The 2016 election is already being played out in the media. The Chris Christie traffic scandal is clearly an attempt by Christie’s enemies in both parties to dirty him up in anticipation of his 2016 Presidential bid. We’ll see the same thing with Hillary Clinton soon.

The cynicism of Washington politicians seems to have no bounds. No wonder we get mediocre candidates vying for the Oval Office. The best ones, the smartest ones, don’t think it’s worth it.

Question: Do you have any faith in Congress to pass worthwhile legislation?

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19 thoughts on “Is Tesla For Real?

  1. Val Zanchuk

    No. Work at the local levels of government – town/city and state. You have a better chance of seeing more worthwhile legislation and regulations passed. As far as the federal government goes – we’re on our own.

  2. Josh

    Tesla is awesome. Period. Of course there are naysayers who have fed into the tripe put out there by those who stand to profit off of combustion engines but Tesla is a brilliant product from start to finish.

    I don’t know much about Baseball.

    As for congress well, Lloyd, with what I’ve seen over the last decade or so as far as congress goes not a one of those people represent you or me. Everyone in Washington on both sides of the aisle support whoever puts more money in their pocket and the people putting money in their pockets certainly don’t represent the average US citizen. They spend all of their time bickering with one another and accomplishing nothing. The only time the two parties agree is when it is BAD for the average US citizen. We lose more and more of our liberties every day while income is funneled to the top by members of both parties all while being supported by their citizen cheerleaders who have all been duped into arguing with one another while they ignore the boot on their necks. I’ve made a vow this year to not vote for any Republican OR Democrat until either party actually represents the people of the United States and not the corporate monoliths and union lobbyists who fill the congressional coffers.

      1. Josh

        Oh sorry if I didn’t make that clear but that was indeed my plan. I won’t vote for a Republican or a Democrat, but I absolutely plan to continue voting. I really like the Modern Whig party but there aren’t many of them running yet.

  3. Chuck Leonard

    I have been in the Tesla plant and see their production and testing areas. I have seen the bare frame up to the complete car on the test track. They have designed in some of the best technology into a very clean system.
    This is one of the cleanest and efficient plants I have been in. They have lots of room in the current location to expand production and I look forward see their new models on the road.
    Every one comments on the lack of charging stations. But I fill my Gas Eater car once a week, so a overnight top off charge should not be an issue for 90% of the drivers. Unless you drive enough to require filling up your car more than once a day. But Tesla has a high end range of over 300 miles on a charge. That works to 5 to 6 hours of continuous road time. I worked out side sales for 25 years and that is a long day of driving.

    1. Donna

      We drive from San Diego to Oakland frequently, and we always take our Prius since it is more economical. We can just about make it on one tank of gas and it only holds about 11 gallons. We do fill up once on the way, just so we can get around when we are there. It takes us over 8 hours driving, so I don’t see how the Tesla will work unless you keep another non-electric car as well. We do love the Tesla design so it would be OK for shorter trips, but then our Prius already does that and we are in and out of the gas station in less time than most of the other drivers since it has a smaller tank.

  4. Jim Goerges

    Grade the leadership– you know mine -F.
    Grade the congress– you know mine F.

    When the President of the United States makes a statement and supports pot, can it get more @@#$-up? Everything they have implemented is a disaster.

    Obama wants to create new “zones” for enterprise, WTH? It used to be AMERICA was an enterprise zone, land of the free, home of the brave, and an amazing ability to do the impossible. Alls Obama wants are a few enterprise zones. WTH?

    What’s more scary than OBAMA are the people that believe him!

    Worst president ever?? What says YOU!

    1. Josh

      What exactly have you been told about pot Jim that makes you so against it? Why does it matter if the President recognizes that pot is not the harmful substances it has been made out to be for decades and evaluates the substance based on reason and logic rather than fear campaigns? If you are against pot you better not be a drinker either, or a cigarette smoker because if so then you are a hypocrite. Do you think it’s really effective to spend billions of dollars a year hunting people down for using and growing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco? A substance that is less harmful than many of the prescription drugs that this country is addicted to? If you can come up with a good reason for Marijuana to be illegal I’d love to hear it.

      Would you like to provide more information on these free enterprise zones and possibly a citation? What are they and why are they bad? Or did you just read a Fox News headline that told you to be upset?

      What’s more scary than Obama? Republicans AND Democrats who do nothing but regurgitate the talking points of their party that doesn’t represent them. What’s more scary that Obama? The fact that the last two presidents were two sides of the same oligarchical coin.

  5. Craig

    Seems like Elon built a great “cart”; however, no one’s talking about the fact that the horse that has to pull his cart is a broken down, worn out, bailing wire and duct taped Grid that all this new demand is to go through…and who’s going to step up to the multi-trillion dollar infrastructure needed to provide power remotely (I.e., replacing the gas station) when there isn’t enough electricity available (remember California is maxing their grid out each summer) or dependable grid to provide consistent revenue streams to recover the investment?
    Did Tesla do a “if we build it they will come?”
    Our wind turbines are chopping up birds and bats to the place where we are warping our entire ecosystem, solar has a dirty little secret that there is a horrible waste stream coming off the production (that was not declared to the public so it would “look” green), and nuclear has had a stick shoved in it’s spokes now for 40 years…so where to now guys?
    Sorry to sound like a grump for I love new technology and Tucker was my favorite movie ever but I believe that for electric to be viable on a large scale maybe we need to look at thorium reactors and a new grid…wow, I just spent $5 trillion of money we don’t have and since Washington has maxed out all of our credit cards it’s not looking too promising there. And if things started today (which it won’t because we are in gridlock and dead broke) it would be 15 years before electric vehicles could take a serious bite out of internal combustion but I believe someone (unfortunately at the Federal level (stop laughing and rolling your eyes guys) needs to attack this like we did in the building of our freeway system…too bad we’re broke could have really been a big deal so in the mean time I’m going to machine as many pistons and cylinder liners I can.
    Viva la I.C.!

  6. Lloyd Graff

    Elon Musk is showing us with Tesla that big mature markets like cars are targets for transformation. We see companies like Ford and GM, even BMW being prisoners to the past and to the stockholders who do not want companies to bet the farm on new technology. Ford makes billions of dollars every year on the old technology F150 which they tweaked this year by taking 700 pounds out of the bed with aluminum. But switching to electric would be way too radical, I believe. But I know they are watching him closely. They have a big and growing footprint in Silicon Valley where they also have to be wary of Google and the self driving car progress. From my vantage point we are just a few years away from dramatic changes in autos. Do you bet on Tesla, Ford, Google, BMW. It looks the best pure play is probably Tesla because they are building their brand so successfully and they have the money and the setup to ramp up. Obtaining the Fremont plant that the Toyota, GM partnership built from scratch was a coup. Saved Musk a fortune and provided a cadre of workers who knew how to build cars and actually get them out the door, never to be underestimated in manufacturing.

  7. Lloyd Graff

    I voted for Obama in 2008 and generally have been disappointed with his leadership, but from a manufacturing point of view he has been good. I was talking with a Conservative, extremely thoughtful client a couple days ago who owns a big machining house and he said “Obama’s been great for my business.” And I am quite sure he did not vote for him. From a parochial pro manufacturing viewpoint the guy has been a champion. Hate Obama or not, he touts the value of “high paying manufacturing jobs” frequently. Don’t always discount the value of that consistent message. Would you rather have him pushing low pay service jobs at Amazin?

  8. Seth Emerson

    Lloyd – GM built the plant back in the mid-60’s – Closed it, then signed it over to NUMMI to build Toyota Trucks and Chevy “Nova”s – Actually thinly disguised Toyota Corrollas – in the 80’s and 90’s. Then NUMMI closed it again when GM ran out of Money and Toyota didn’t want to soldier on alone in the 00’s! I have driven the Tesla, and it is quite nice. Musk definitle did his homework. There will be range anxiety, but that will diffuse as the network of chargers improves. Electrial power will probably be an issue. I have heard that back east they call the Electric cars “Coal Cars” because of their electric grid! Little of that in California. GM, Ford and others are working toward Electric power, though. Baby steps when compared to their internal combustion cars, but still working on it. AHve you seen the new Cadillac electric coupe. (Modified Volt powertrain) Very nice.

    1. Seth Emerson

      Lloyd – Choosing between the Cadillac Electric ELR and the Tesla? It would be a tough decision. It would have to replace a 9 year old Corvette, still a great car. I haven’t driven the Caddy, either. The Tesla is a more luxurious sedan, the new Caddy, a sportier (if that can be applied to an electric) car. Tiny back seat, etc. (Bigger than my Corvette’s non-existant back seat, though). Despite the smaller inside, the Caddy, like the Volt, is a more practical car for most folks. No electric “range anxiety” for trips, etc. So – The better my Corvette runs, the less I have to worry about it! (PS – I would probably pick the Caddy!)

  9. Scot Orsic

    If you really want to understand Washington in action read the book Extortion by Peter Schweizer. He turns the old adage “pay to play” upside down and demonstrates how our politicians extract money from companies. Why don’t they pass meaningful legislation? Its simple, If they merely discuss an issue such as taxing internet sales, the company pocketbooks on both sides of the argument open up. If they defer until next year, and bring it up again at a later date guess what? The checkbooks open again. When they purposely pit two differing business philosophies against each other with simply the discussion of possible legislation, the faucets open and the cash flows. If every american read this book there would be people with pitchforks surrounding the Capital.


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