South Park is known for being edgy and making fun of current pop culture. The production timeline for the show is 1 week, which is mind blowing if you think about how long most TV production takes. On the latest episode they rip ride sharing services such as Lyft and Uber (these allow you to catch rides in people's personal vehicles), crippled kids, and Matthew McConaughey and stupid Lincoln commercials, car salesman, taxis, and taxi drivers. For fans of the electric car they also make fun of Tesla co-founder and CEO, Elon Musk.
The synopsis of the episode is that Timmy, a crippled kid that only says his name “Timmy”, is working to raise money for his special needs summer camp for next year. Timmy has a ride sharing app called Handicar which enables people to catch rides around town using his wheelchair. The local taxi drivers in the town of South Park get upset about the competition as well as Elon Musk, since it's taking away from people focusing on electric cars. The culmination is a Wacky Races epic race against all the competing car technologies and services to see which is best and most convenient.
Like all South Park episodes this one is brilliantly done. Watch it here!
Editor's Note – this video is an unofficially posted and could be taken down at any moment.
South Park “Handicar” Episode – Ride Sharing
If you watch the show you will see that they also rip Lincoln's current marketing campaign with the actor Matthew . The TV commercials are meant to show that he “Just Liked It” instead of Lincoln actually paying him to like Lincoln vehicles. Since the public thinks this is BS, South Park decided to make fun of the commercials and call them out on it. Watch the questionable Lincoln commercial by clicking here.
While it's cool that South Park is in-tune with current auto marketing, the real question is, does this mean that Tesla and Elon Musk have gone mainstream? What about ride sharing? If South Park makes fun of it that probably means it's pretty popular and worthy of the Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the South Park creators, attention.
Here is the part with Elon Musk if you don't want to invest 22 minute to watching the full episode. This wasn't part of the main storyline in case you were wondering.
South Park – Elon Musk
Musk was good humored about the spoof since he Tweeted about it on when the show aired.
McConaughey did not mention his South Park appearance though. Surprisingly there wasn't a mention of RelayRides in the episode but they did mention ZipCar. Anyway, I encourage my readers to watch the Handicar episode and let me know what you think with a comment below. Did you think it was funny?
Elon Musk, the CEO and founder of Tesla Motors, posted a blog post today that has blown the minds of Tesla Model S owners and made them quite happy. Tesla is now offering an Infinite Mile Warranty on the Model S for 8 years. This warranty includes the battery and the drive unit, which means the electric motor.
The Tesla Model S drive unit warranty has been increased to match that of the battery pack. That means the 85 kWh Model S, our most popular model by far, now has an 8 year, infinite mile warranty on both the battery pack and drive unit. There is also no limit on the number of owners during the warranty period.
We are not sure if the Infinite Mile Warranty also covers the controller that modulates how much energy is sent to the electric motor. We would imagine this is part of of the Tesla Warranty though but I'm not assuming anything as it is Tesla.
Keep in mind Tesla is applying this to all current owners of the Tesla Model S and Elon Musk is keen to point out that electric motors are much more reliable than gasoline counterparts. Therefore an Infinite Mile Warranty would make sense.
Moreover, the warranty extension will apply retroactively to all Model S vehicles ever produced. In hindsight, this should have been our policy from the beginning of the Model S program. If we truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines, with far fewer moving parts and no oily residue or combustion byproducts to gum up the works, then our warranty policy should reflect that.
Of course Musk does admit in the blog post that it is quite possible that this will negatively affect Tesla's bottom line and those that have invested in the company.
To investors in Tesla, I must acknowledge that this will have a moderately negative effect on Tesla earnings in the short term, as our warranty reserves will necessarily have to increase above current levels. This is amplified by the fact that we are doing so retroactively, not just for new customers. However, by doing the right thing for Tesla vehicle owners at this early stage of our company, I am confident that it will work out well in the long term.
While this Tesla warranty news should reassure and reaffirm Tesla Model S and electric car owners, the public and media have forgotten a few important points. The warranty, as far as I can tell, does not seem to cover electronic components which honestly… are much more prone to failure than an electric motor. Since electric motors work using magnets with few moving parts they are much more reliable than gas engines and rarely break. Elon Musk and Tesla are right about that. Electric motors can fail in certain situations though but since they run off of magnetism they are pretty reliable motors. It's quite likely a controller will break before a Tesla electric motor and it's not clear to me whether this is or is not covered under the Infinite Mile Warranty.
Also what do you do after 8 years with your Model S? That's when you definitely will have electronic and electrical failure on an electric car. Tesla bean counters have worked this out like all automakers. They probably know a lot of Tesla components naturally wear out after a certain period of time and anticipate most drivers only do 10,000-15,000 miles a year. Once the warranty is up it's on the customer to pay for repairs. It's not surprising automakers do this and Tesla is no different in this case.
I guess Tesla figures any self-respecting Tesla Model S owner will have to run out and get the latest model when that comes out. So they won't care about fixing the models or likely own them for 8 years. Right? 🙂
What you think of Tesla's Infinite Mile Warranty? Is this good not only for Tesla but the entire electric car industry as a whole? Is this just another Tesla marketing gimmick masked with media love? Leave a comment below to let me know.
When Elon Musk was in London for the launch of the Tesla Model S in the United Kingdom he did an interview with the BBC's (British Broadcasting Corporation) Business Daily podcast. He talked with Business Daily correspondent Justin Rowlett about Tesla, SpaceX, and his early career on the internet. It was a pretty interesting and I was surprised by what he said later in the interview.
“I like working on technology that will have a positive effect on the world. You know, stuff that is going to matter and if we don't solve it there could be some bad outcome for out future, the future of humanity. When we started SpaceX, and Tesla in particular, I didn't think either of them particularly would succeed.”
Justin Rowlett, the interviewer, than asked, “So you imagined both of them would fail when you started them?”
“I thought that was the most likely outcome… Initially I thought I'll take half the money and I'll keep the other half, and this other half will probably be lost and then I'll still have the other half. That was my initial thought, but then the company's needed much more money than originally anticipated and of course we had the big recession in 2008. Well, I could either keep the money, and the company was definitely going to die, or invest what I have left and maybe there is a chance.”
Elon Musk also discussed the early days of the internet and how nobody really thought it would go anywhere at the beginning of the interview.
“When I started Zip2 which was in the summer of 95, nobody had made any money on the internet. It wasn't some land of riches or something like that. Most people didn't know what the internet was including Silicon Valley. We tried getting funding from venture capitalists and most of them had never used the internet. If they had used the internet they were convinced nobody would ever make any money on it. So our initial goals with Zip2 were quite modest, would we ever be able to make enough buy to eat and pay for rent? That was our goal in the beginning.”
If you would like to listen to the whole interview with Elon Musk, visit the BBC Business Daily podcast page. The Elon Musk interview was posted on June 9th, 2014 and is titled “Elon Musk: Space and Electric Cars.” Be aware that the BBC only keeps podcast available 30 days after airing.
Let me know what you think about entrepreneurship and failure. Is that just part of the game? Especially with innovative companies like Tesla and SpaceX?
Tesla recently demonstrated that the company can swap a battery in their Tesla Models S in about 90 seconds. This is quicker than the time it takes to fill-up a car with gas (at least that is how it was shown in the demonstration). You can checkout the presentation by Elon Musk and the demonstration of the Tesla Model S battery getting swapped out in this 7 minute video.
At the beginning of the demonstration Musk says, “What if people do want to switch out their battery pack? What if people only want to stop for a short period of time?” Musk talks about how you have two options when stopping at a Tesla supercharger station, faster or free. Faster being the battery swap so you can continue on your journey or the fast charge where you can wait and discuss with other electric car owners how awesome everyone is since you all own a Tesla Model S.
While the video demonstrated what Tesla wanted to show gas vs a battery swap. On the right side you see a guy getting gas at what Musk claimed is the faster gas station in Los Angeles since it pumps 10 gallons of gas a minute. On the left side you see on the stage demonstration of the Tesla battery swap. However, what I don't like is that Tesla doesn't really show the battery getting swapped out from any camera angles. You can't see what is going on under the car and how the battery gets swapped out which would have made this battery swap demonstration about 100 times better.
Tesla was really thinking ahead in the terms of the usability and design of the Tesla Model S by incorporating having the option to swap a battery out. Recently the Tesla Model S was awarded a 99 out of 100 rating by Consumer Reports. This is the highest rating a car has ever received in Consumer Reports testing and only 1 other car got a 99 score. However, swapping an electric car battery is nothing new.
Swapping electric car batteries was the main idea behind the electric car startup Better Place. It's a smart since electric cars have limited range and you have to stop to get as anyway. Unfortunately like a lot of car companies and great ideas the idea failed as Better Place filed for bankruptcy in May 2013. So will people want to stop to swap a battery on the Tesla Model S?
It is possible since Tesla and Elon Musk seems like they are the only stand alones who have truly been able to make a serious impact with electric cars. They have turned around skeptics and made supporters of EV's even more strong. Hey, if you can get the battery swapped out wouldn't that take away the worries about electric car range anxiety?
Tesla and Elon Musk are quite the show offs but that's what I like about Tesla.
Whoever said, “Revenge isn't sweet?” has not seen, ‘Revenge Of The Electric Car‘ the new documentary directed by Chris Paine, which is the sequel to the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” While Revenge Of The Electric Car is not flawless, the film provides a compelling tale of the resurgence of the electric car.
Revenge Of The Electric Car revolves around four men who have played roles in bringing electric cars onto our roads. Bob Lutz Vice Chairman of General Motors (GM) is referred to as Mr. Detroit; Rocket Man, Elon Musk Co-Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors ; The Outsider, Greg “Gadget” Abbott who builds his own electric cars; and The Warrior, Carlos Ghosn President and CEO of Nissan and Renault who is the driving force behind the all-electric Nissan Leaf.
I assumed the movie would be biased toward electric cars, and in the first 10 minutes of the movie, there is little doubt of this.
The opening scene with Dan Neil, the Wall Street Journal automotive journalist, clearly establishes the movie's premise. He proclaims, “Electric cars are the only way forward.” Mr. Neil is a well respected writer, having won a Pulitzer Prize for writing about cars. Throughout the movie he serves as the main voice pushing the story along, adding his insight and wit.
Bob Lutz, a GM executive who has been at numerous car companies, encouraged the development of the Chevy Volt. He was not always a believer in the technologies, and is often blamed for killing off GM's EV1 program. One of the important events chronicled by the movie, is the PR disaster GM experienced when it shut down and destroyed all EV1 cars. In the film ,when he discusses why GM's board was not excited to build the Volt, Lutz says, “The company had lost so much money on EV1.” Mmm…. let's not forget that it was Lutz who had the cars crushed.
Lutz though, is unapologetic about both his actions and his prior comments. He is a charismatic, smart, and competitive man, which Paine shows well. Lutz's push to build the Volt not only helped GM's image, but insured his place in automotive history. Lutz, as Neil points out, is a bit of an egomaniac.
Elon Musk, CEO and Co-Founder of Tesla, is the man who forced GM and the big players in the auto industry to rethink how they view electric cars. He showed that it is possible to build electric cars and not the slow, unimaginative, and boring cars people associated with electric propulsion. Tesla choose to make the Tesla Roadster, a cool and fast electric car.
Of course what you learn as an audience, and what Musk and his Silicon Valley buddies realize quickly, is that it is not easy building and selling cars. Lutz makes a point in the movie that it is a lot harder than you think.
There is a bit of a surreal moment when Musk is checking over a warehouse of Tesla Roadsters that had issues and problems. Car #23 had a bad powertrain. Musk said , “Replace it, take it out, put a new one in, and table the old one for analysis.” He expresses to the Tesla employee that customers might start losing confidence. Chris Paine, the director, chimes in that #23 is his car. Musk is caught a bit off guard, then compliments the color of the car. I guess Paine knew the gamble he made when he put down his deposit for his Tesla Roadster. Tesla delivers his Roadster a year later.
Greg ‘Gadget' Abbott is an independent entrepreneur who chooses to build his own electric cars. Gadget also does electric car conversions for those willing to spend a hefty sum. Both Gadget and his wife are dedicating their lives to building electric cars. Gadget I think, is one of the most compelling characters in the movie, if not the most compelling. His challenge includes rebuilding his life and business after his main workshop is burned down due to arson. Gadget lost $250,000 in uninsured tools and several of his electric cars. The only thing that survived the fire was a controller, “I can built a car with that” he says. You can tell he is down but he always seems to be unfailingly optimistic.
Carlos Ghosn, who is President and CEO of Nissan and Renault, seems to have shown up the entire auto industry by building the Nissan Leaf, a fully electric car that is affordable to the masses and available worldwide. Neil says that Ghosn, “Is not a visionary” but I disagree. The Brazilian-Frenchmen has a vision to make money with the Leaf. That is a vision that could truly change the world and what our transportation infrastructure looks like.
It is important to note that Nissan sold around 10,000 Nissan Leafs in 2011, while GM sold 6,000 Volts. It seems Ghosn made the right decision as the Leaf's technology might position of the leader in electric cars. When Paine asks, “Do you feel you are ahead of the game?” Ghosn replies, “I don't feel, I am!” showing his confidence and business acumen.
There is no denying Chris Paine's bias toward Elon Musk and Tesla, as demonstrated by the flashy montage of Musk's and Tesla's rise with celebrity commentators, compared to Bob Lutz's and Carlos Ghosn somewhat laid back static sequence. This reflects the different personalities to a degree, but it is still hard to miss the bias.
For instance, a short segment involving Martin Eberhard, one of the co-founders of Tesla, is a bit odd. It does not fully explain the story and makes it seem like Musk and Tesla are the good guys for kicking Eberhard out. There is no way to know what happened, but judging from Musk's mass firings, it might be safe to assume he was probably the bad guy in the story.
The movie focuses too much on Musk, while ignoring other interesting characters. Gadget's story of how and why he started building electric cars would have been interesting to hear. (Maybe this will be on the DVD bonus features.)
What the movie does show is Tesla's difficult road to making cars. Musk is at one point forced to wire all his money to Tesla to make payroll. He might be brash and arrogant, but he had a lot of faith to stick with Tesla. I respect Musk for that, and look where Tesla is now.
The movie has its share of celebrity appearances, featuring Danny DeVito, Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Arnold Schwarzenegger and others. The movie is narrated by Tim Robbins, the actor and well-known liberal activist. He describes himself as a EV enthusiast.
The other two interesting characters, along with Mr Neil, that provide comments and insight are Ray Wert, editor of Jalopink, and Owen Thomas, the editor of Valleywag. They casually talk about the auto industry on a park bench, giving additional insight to the story.
With a growing need to meet energy needs and oil becoming more expensive, harder to find, and from hostile places, electric cars may be as Dan Neil puts it, “The only way forward!” The movie claims that it costs $1 equivalent per gallon to “fill-up” an electric car. Of course what it does not emphasize… we still get most of our electricity from fossil fuels!
Paine tells a compelling and fascinating account of the resurgence in electric cars and the people behind them in the film, which is what he wanted to accomplish. He details the trials and tribulations of Tesla, GM, Nissan, and Mr. Abbott, each story ending with optimism and hope for the auto industry.
Revenge Of the Electric Car is a must-see for any car enthusiast, auto journalist, environmentalist, or person who wants to be informed of what the auto industry will look like in the future.