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Tossing Tesla: Stimulus-funded vehicle a bust in the “real world”

Monday March 11th, 2013   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:04am PDT   •  

TeslaRaodsterBritain’s Court of Appeal has tossed the lawsuit of Tesla boss Elon Musk against Britain’s popular “Top Gear” program. In 2008 host Jeremy Clarkson called the electric Tesla roadster “an astonishing technical achievement” adding “it’s a shame that in the real world it doesn’t seem to work.” That is, he found that the car only ran for 55 miles between charges, far less that Tesla boss Elon Musk claimed. Musk was not amused and sued with Britain’s high court and lost. Now he’s lost the appeal but Musk is feuding with the New York Times over their story that Tesla vehicles fall short of their advertised range.

Embattled American taxpayers might recall that the Tesla company got $465 million in stimulus funds as part of President Obama’s green-energy plan. But few Americans are driving Tesla automobiles because the lowest price for Tesla’s Model S is $52,400 – after the $7500 tax credit. The high-end model is $72,400 and even if buyers have the money not many are available. In a recent quarter Tesla produced only 359 cars. The New York Times article prompted some Tesla buyers to cancel their orders. Even so, things are going well for Elon Musk.

As the Los Angeles Times noted, Mr. Musk recently plunked down $17 million for a 20,248-square-foot Bel-Air mansion with a gym, seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, tennis court, motor court and a swimming pool. You can live in that kind of regal style when you get nearly half a billion in federal stimulus money, even if your high-end product fails to match its claims and remains unsuitable as a primary vehicle.

Vice President Joe Biden touted the Fisker Karma electric vehicle as a source of U.S. manufacturing jobs and the company got loan guarantees of $529 million from the federal government as part of a package with Tesla. But the luxurious Karma is made in Finland and shipped to the United States through the port of Newark, where 16 of the luxury vehicles blew up during Hurricane Sandy. The Karma and Tesla vehicles suggest that the federal stimulus failed to work well in the real world.

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March 2013