Portrait of the Con Artist as a Stung Man

Rolling Stone’s recent profile of Elon Musk revealed Mr. Musk’s plans to shape the world. But much more than this it revealed how the world has shaped Mr. Musk. The panegyric to this man of genius without limit is more the portrait of the con artist as a stung man.

What Truly Drives Musk?

Perhaps I reveal my own jealous pettiness. Who would not wish to be Mr. Musk?

He has been an innovator on the internet and raced to the lead in electric cars, solar panels, spacecraft, self-driving technology, tunnels, artificial intelligence and human-computer interfaces. In his fans he has the loyalty of thousands. He commands the respect of millions. His is a fortune in the billions. To Big Oil companies he is Shiva the Destroyer, a Juggernaut made flesh. They do not see him as “Iron Man” but as Darth Vader.

The persona of Mr. Musk

Who has Musk conned?

Once a mere over-promiser, Mr. Musk has become a con artist. Model 3 reservation holders had confidence that their deposits would reserve them a vehicle but instead of holding the deposits in escrow Tesla appears to have spent the money on general operations. His march across this Rubicon continues. Roadster Founder customers have been invited to pay full price for a vehicle less likely to arrive shortly after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics than shortly before the 2024 Paris Olympics. Tesla again does not appear to have guaranteed that the $250,000 deposits, being five times the median household income in the USA, will be set aside. Many reports have called this a stealth cash raise. If they were in error, Mr. Musk would have directed vigorous invective at them by now.

Pattern recognition

Facts take on new meaning when we perceive their underlying pattern. Consider the Christian Gospel of …continue reading


Honda to halve electric cars' charging time to 15 minutes

Honda Motor plans to release in 2022 a selection of fully electric cars that can run 240km on a single 15-minute charge. Most electric vehicles now available take at least twice that long to reach an 80% charge even using a high-speed charger.

Key to this plan is developing a new type of high-capacity battery that can handle the ultra-quick charging. The carmaker sources batteries for its electric-gas hybrid vehicles from Panasonic and others, but plans to create the new batteries in collaboration with a partner to be chosen later. A lighter vehicle body and more efficient power control system will ensure the new cars can go farther on a single charge.

Before then, Honda plans to release mass-market electric vehicles in Europe in 2019 and in Japan the following year.

Fast chargers in Japan now provide a maximum output of 150kW, but industry plans call for raising that to 350kW starting in 2020. Europe is expected to have a network of several thousand 350kW charging stations by that year. Honda’s next-generation electric vehicles will take advantage of this faster charging infrastructure.

Nissan Motor’s new 2018 Leaf will also offer quicker charging times than the current model and range 30% longer — more than 500km on a single charge. The automaker has a head start on Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota Motor in mass-market electric vehicles.

There were 470,000 electric vehicles on the world’s roads in 2016, according to Tokyo-based research firm Fuji Keizai, making up 0.5% of the total. That share is expected to climb to only 4.6% by 2035. By offering faster charging and longer range, Honda hopes to give its electric cars an edge with everyday drivers.

…continue reading


50 years and 6 million units later, the Toyota Hiace still gets no respect

Not much of a birthday party. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Life isn’t fair. Tesla built a little over 80,000 units last year, end everybody is going gaga. Then there is a vehicle that is built more than 200,000 times each year, and it gets no respect. Tesla built some 250,000 cars since inception. That other vehicle was built more than 6 million times. In the last 48 hours, 10% of the 3,100 stories scanned by the DailyKanban Newsbot were about Tesla. None were about the Toyota Hiace. This morning, the Hiace celebrated its 50th birthday, and 12 hours later, even that festive occasion won’t rate a single headline. Meanwhile, the mediocre Tesla smartphone battery gets 845,000 hits on Google.

Spartan inside of the first generation Hiace, introduced 1967. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Life is even unfairer when one considers that if you truly want to change the world and make money doing it, you need to build something like the Hiace. Toyota’s workhorse van quietly delivers food to stores, children to school, if other cars have an accident, the Hiace takes the victims to the hospital. With eight comfortable seats (15 in a pinch) it is the backbone of transportation in many emerging markets.

The 2nd generation model was little more than a facelift, and lasted from 1977 through 1982. (c) Bertel Schmitt

The first Hiace was sold in 1967, and 50 years later, there are only 5 generations, some little more than a facelift. The Gen 5 Hiace was introduced in 2005, and 12 years later, there still is no sign of a successor model. If you can sell more than a million units per model generation, making money is a …continue reading


Wednesday Morning Auto News, Nov 22, 2017

Turning Euros Green: Toyota Financial Services Issues First Euro-Denominated Green Bond Allocated Specifically to the Sales of Low-Emission Vehicles

Source: toyota.com

Plano, Texas, Nov. 21, 2017 Toyota Financial Services (TFS) issued its first-ever euro-denominated unsecured Green Bond today, expanding its industry-leading commitment to the sale of environmentally friendly vehicles. The €600 million bond will be used to fund the acquisition of new retail finance contracts and beneficial interests in lease contracts for Toyota and Lexus vehicles that meet specific clean air criteria, including powertrain, fuel efficiency and emissions. There are currently nine vehicles in the Toyota and Lexus lineup that qualify. …continue reading