After years of setbacks and shake-ups, the first Tesla Roadsters were delivered to customers this year. Reviews have been ecstatic, but Tesla Motors has been hit hard by the financial crisis. Plans to develop an affordable electric sedan have been put on hold, and Tesla is laying off employees. But even if the Roadster turns out to be a one-hit wonder, it’s been a hell of an (electric) ride.
Is the credit crisis really drying up investment money for the companies making the big innovations in electric cars? Undoubtedly it is to some degree. But I’d want to see more details.
Late Update: From TPM Reader ES …
I’ve been following the Tesla story closely for a couple of years now. There’s a lot to it — a soap opera’s worth — but it is definitely true that the credit crunch has been a problem for them in terms of financing.
To follow this story, and green car initiatives in general (including the Chevy Volt, which is BIG), autobloggreen.com is must read. It is by far the best online source for information in this area. To read just about Tesla, see: http://www.autobloggreen.com/tag/tesla/
Later Update: “Almost all of Tesla’s $105 million in startup capital has come from wealthy California idealists and venture investors,” Business Week reported last year. Here’s the article.
Yet Another Late Update: TPM Reader GL reminds us that whatever GM’s other problems, and they’re legion, they are the ones behind the Chevy Volt. Jonathan Rauch wrote about the Volt earlier this year in The Atlantic.
Yeah, That Too Update: From TPM Reader MB …
I too have been intrigued by and rooting for Tesla the past few years. But I think the 1st order of business is replacing the electric grid or you’re putting the car(t) before the horse.
If we get mass adoption of Teslas, Volts and Priuses, we’re then using household current to recharge which is generally the equivalent of burning massive amounts of coal in most parts of the country. Ideally you’d want a huge wind/solar buildout and efficient battery manufacturing/recycling in place before the cars arrive en masse.
Not to say we can’t develop them simultaneously but we’re talking massive scale infrastructure requirements.
And a better investment than the Wall Street black hole we’re currently dumping it into.
This is clearly a big issue, a big part of the equation. But I think that mass adoption of electric cars is a problem we’ll deal with when we get there. Not to be flippant about it. But there’s clearly a lot to do. And I don’t see why not to move on all fronts simultaneously.