Welcome to This Week In Tesla
With so much here in Storey County riding on the Auto Manufacturer, I think it is important to keep tabs on how the biggest employer in Storey County is doing. So we present the weekly TWIT – This week in Tesla.
Tesla Began the week at $342.95 and closed the week at $309.90.
Here is a list of this week’s top stories. Click or tap on the headline to read the article
This story appeared in the pages of The Storey Teller.
“County Manager Pat Whitten tried all month to get a meeting set up with Tesla to renegotiate the Service Agreement that Tesla made with the county so we could afford the special fire truck and all the inspectors and County employees it takes to support the “Alien Dreadnaught”. But the Tesla employee Whitten was dealing with was one of the casualties of the 9% decimation that hit Tesla employees last month”
The Guardian writes a story I have been wanting to do for some time; what is the unseen burden of the Tesla Gigafactory on Northern Nevada. Digging deep into the inner works of Northern Nevada’s economy, this article does a good job of breaking down the human and financial implications of Northern Nevada’s most talked about company.
“A year ago I was the caretaker of an apartment building and my wife was a caregiver. Then I lost my job. We couldn’t afford to rent anywhere so now we live here,” said Kevin McCullough, 48, who like his partner, Pixie, was sunburnt from outdoor living. Home is a tent by riverbank reeds. Such testimony conflicts with the official narrative that Sparks is booming – awash with jobs, money and newcomers. But you hear it from a largely hidden underclass which is paying a price for the boom. Some have a term for it: “Tesla’d.”
Tesla consumes between 68,00o and 80,000 tons of Lithium Carbonite to fuel their powercells that Panasonic makes for them. This mine could increase the world’s supply of litium by 15-20%, if they move ahead with plans to break ground in 2020. This is good news for Tesla and should now allow them to focus on where they will get the cobalt they need. Not many people know about the looming “Cobalt Cliff” that faces all battery manufacturers.
“Behind the study for this new Lithium Carbonate mine is a company known as Lithium Americas, who conservatively estimate the groundbreaking ceremony in their prospective Northern Nevada Li2CO3 mine could be made as early as the end of 2020.”
Elon Musk is a master at overcommitment and damage deflection. He invoked a little of both when he announced in his first-quarter earnings call that Tesla would manufacture 5000 Model 3 automobiles in Q2 2018 and be profitable this year. Unlike his wild predictions in the past, he almost pulled this one off. Tesla rolled it’s 5000th Model 3 just a little bit after the last week in June closed. They had to compromise a safety test and build a tent outside the factory to fix defective cars to do it.
“Leading up to Sunday morning’s production milestone, Musk paced the Model 3 line, snapping at his engineers when the around-the-clock production slowed or stopped due to problems with robots, one worker said.
Tesla built a new line in just two weeks in a huge tent outside the main factory, an unprecedented move in an industry that takes years to plan out its assembly lines, and said the tented production area accounted for 20 percent of the Model 3s produced last week.”
5) Elon Musk ordered Tesla engineers to stop doing a critical brake test on Model 3s. Business Insider
In an all out effort to make 5000 Model 3s per week, Elon Musk continues to micromanage the assembly line in Fremont while still keeping up with the twitterbugs. By removing a critical safety test in the braking system, Musk appears to be putting the value of dollar bills before the safety of his customers.
“Ron Harbour, a consultant at Oliver Wyman who founded and writes “The Harbour Report,” a worldwide guide to manufacturing, told Business Insider that after everything is installed in a car during the manufacturing process, a manufacturer would have to be very lucky for everything on a car to be in alignment.
“If you just abandon [the test], you could potentially have a lot of quality issues with your customers,” he said. “Every plant does that … It’s part of finishing the build of the car.”
Harbour told Business Insider he was unaware of any test that could adequately replace the brake-and-roll test on a manufacturing line.”
6) Tesla’s Top Vehicle Engineer Is Out [Updated: He Is Not The Top Engineer, Only Elon Musk Is ;-)] – Jalopnik
Tesla has been hit hard with executive exodous. Scores of high powered talent have left the Good Ship Teslapop in the past 18 months and the the hits keep on hitting. This week it’s former Apple executive and former head of engineering (well, ok, engineer third class) Doug Field.
“Tesla poached Field from Apple in 2013, when he moved from being the tech giant’s Vice President of Mac Hardware Engineering to leading Tesla’s vehicle programs. In May, he stepped away from work at Tesla for what a spokesperson described as “time off” so Field could “recharge and spend time with his family.”
Elon Musk promised his assembly line would be an “alien dreadnought” that would crush traditional automaking “dinosaurs” like Toyota, Ford and General Motors. This week it looked like his dreadnought morphed into a skiff in the parking lot of the Fremont plant when a giant tent appeared one day housing a “third assembly line”. Things are getting curiouser and couriouser at Good Ship Teslapop.
“Beneath the peaked canvas, Tesla has hastily set up a third Model 3 production line. Like the other two, it handles final assembly, when trim and other finishing touches are put on the car. (Tesla did not include the tent on the tour of the plant.)
Adding a new assembly line, even temporarily, is a rare and risky move in the auto industry. A line set up hastily, in an untested environment, might not achieve the quality Tesla promises.
Two assembly lines inside the plant already exist to handle at least some of those tasks but they have proved troublesome and perform the work more slowly than Mr. Musk had hoped, in part because Tesla used robots for tasks that are better left to human workers.”
8) At Tesla, Elon Musk casts himself as a superhero. But he sweats the details on the factory floor. – Washington Post
This article documents Elon Musk’s “nano-management” and talks about how the Captain of the Ship may be hurting more than he helps. As usual a good long read from The Post.
“He has achieved a lot by sheer willpower and is one of the most gifted people I’ve ever met,” said Bob Lutz, who has been a senior executive at each of America’s Big Three automakers, including vice chairman of General Motors. “He’s also one of the most flawed.”
Lutz described Musk as “a master salesman” and the ownership of Tesla vehicles or shares as “almost a religious cult.” “But he’s getting desperate,” Lutz said. “Like so many of these schemes, I think he’s rapidly running out of other people’s money.”
We here in Storey County know as well as anyone in the county that Tesla couldn’t exist without taxpayer money. One of the little known areas of the support that you and I give Tesla is the $7500 per vehicle Federal tax rebate on Zero Emmission Vehicles (ZEV). In the case of Tesla, these tax breaks benefit wealthy Tesla customers who can afford the $100k price tag of the Model S. In the federal ZEV law, there is a milestone that says once a manufacturer sells its 200,000th qualifying ZEV car, a clock starts ticking that reduces the tax rebate to zero.
Many of the 450,000 people who gave Tesla $1000 of interest free money in the form of deposits on a $35,000 base model 3 will end up getting punked out of the tax credit. This could sour those deposit makers and convince them to want their money back.
“The qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit phases out for a manufacturer’s vehicles over the one-year period beginning with the second calendar quarter after the calendar quarter in which at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer have been sold for use in the United States (determined on a cumulative basis for sales after December 31, 2009) (“phase-out period”).
Qualifying vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer are eligible for 50 percent of the credit if acquired in the first two quarters of the phase-out period and 25 percent of the credit if acquired in the third or fourth quarter of the phase-out period. Vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer are not eligible for a credit if acquired after the phase-out period.”
Elon Musk and Marshall McBride have one thing in common. They hate a free press that asks real questions and does real invesitgative work. Marshall McBride calls journalists Liars. Elon Musk howls just as loudly.
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