I was invited to a social function last Friday to celebrate the fall ritual of Octoberfest. I engaged a person that I know at the party in conversation. The subject of Elon Musk came up, partially because the person hosting the party just purchased a Tesla. I recounted the production difficulties, Elon getting kicked off the board of his own company, and the quality control problems of Tesla which are well documented. Boy did I get an explanation from an alternative world.
I was told that Elon Musk was screwed by the big three automakers because they fear him. The reason his manufacturing plant is not producing enough units (cars) is as follows:
This person told me that he knows for a fact that the company that sold the manufacturing robots to Tesla purposely sabotaged the equipment, so it would not work. He claimed that Tesla hired a South Korean company to rewrite the robot’s software and that the manufacturing problems have been resolved. He assured me that Tesla is exceeding its manufacturing goals and is really making money hand over fist.
I asked about the Wall Street Journal article and others stating that most cars were defective and required repairs, before they could be sold. Also, that Tesla is not making enough units to be profitable. He told me that this too is due to the Detroit automakers controlling the media because they spend so much on advertising that they have arranged it so that Tesla only gets bad and untrue reports in the popular media.
At this point, I’m thinking this guy is channeling Preston Tucker.
I asked about our friend’s car. “Yeah he likes it,” I was told, “It did have a defective paint job, but they fixed it right away and now everything is great.”
I commented that there is not enough infrastructure to make Tesla the car of the future. His spin was that Tesla’s will be people’s second car i.e. commuter car and everyone will own one.
He then brought up the subject of self-driving cars. I was promised that self-driving cars would be widely available in five years. The commuter lanes would be only for self-driving cars and they would be computer controlled and drive 120 miles per hour and be four inches from the car in front of them. They would be like impromptu trains that speed up and down the freeways (think NASCAR on steroids.)
I was assured that in five years it would be commonplace to see vehicles with no drivers or passengers zipping around the highways and byways of America (Think Jetsons meets Bladerunner.) I asked about the many wrecks of self-driving cars and was told that once again it was just bad public relations. I was assured that every Tesla crash was driver error even when autopilot was engaged. He assured me that other companies have technology far beyond what Tesla is using and they are ready to deploy it now.
My comment was that humans are better drivers and that you can’t have a mixture of humans and robot piloted vehicles on the same roadway. He laughed and said the computers were far safer drivers and stopped just short of saying that we would all have to surrender our driver’s licenses. He just said that the next generation will not even have a license because computers will be driving everything real soon.
So, there you have it. Cue Rod Serling’s voiceover because the way that conversation went, I think one of us was “in the Zone…”