Explaining Southern California's economy

Elon Musk on a roll: First SpaceX succeeds, and now Tesla wins Motor Trend Car of the Year

Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

Tesla workers cheer on one the first Tesla Model S cars sold during a rally at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., in June. The luxury all-electric sedan just won Motor Trend's Car of the Year award.

Elon Musk is a on a serious roll.

He's CEO of two companies: SpaceX and Tesla Motors. SpaceX, based near Los Angeles, just completed the first paid commerical resupply mission to the International Space Station. 

The news just broke that Tesla's Model S sedan has won Motor Trend's Car of the Year award. And here's what the publication has to say:

[T]his is the first COTY winner in the 64-year history of the award not powered by an internal combustion engine? Sure, the Tesla's electric powertrain delivers the driving characteristics and packaging solutions that make the Model S stand out against many of its internal combustion engine peers. But it's only a part of the story. At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel.

Indeed. I'm not entirely sure, but I think this may be the first time that a car made in the San Francisco Bay Area has ever won COTY. 

Read More...

Tesla reports HUGE quarterly revenue increase in latest earnings statement

Tesla Model S electric car on display du

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla Model S electric car on display during the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Will Tesla be able to deliver 20,000 of these babies next year?

The startup electric carmaker Tesla, helmed by CEO Elon Musk (his other company, SpaceX, just splashed-down its first successful commerical resupply mission to the International Space Station), continues to lose money — $1.05 a share in the third quarter, says its most recent earnings statement released today. 

That's worse than in previous quarters and a lot worse than last year's third quarter, when Tesla lost 63 cents a share.

Compounding this bad news: Tesla lost more than analysts had expected. But there's some good news, too - a massive uptick in revenues for this quarter over the one before. This is from Tesla's SEC filing:

Our Q3 revenues were $50 million, an 88% increase from the prior quarter, which reflects ramping deliveries of Model S, continued sales of the remaining Roadsters internationally, and an increase in powertrain component sales to Toyota for the RAV4 EV. We delivered 253 Model S and 68 Roadsters in the quarter. Limited development services revenue was recognized in the quarter; however, progress on the full electric powertrain for the Mercedes Benz EV continues on schedule.

Read More...

CODA Automotive makes the case for the Very Simple Electric Car

CODA-Ext-1

Nate Napierala

The CODA electric car looks...just like any other compact. And that's a selling point.

CODA-Ext-2

CODA

Wind power, meet electric car. You might want to be careful about straying too far from home with the CODA sedan, but range is good, at about 100 miles per charge.

CODA-Engine

CODA

Electric car engines are models of simplicity. You'll save money on maintenance.

CODA-Charing

CODA

Need a charge? There are stations through the Southland, plus smartphone apps to help you find them.

CODA-Int

CODA

This is the upscale interior trim package. Not a fancy car, but there's a place for that,

CODA-All-Electric

CODA

No gas required.

CODA-Center

CODA

Not your father dealership. In fact, it isn't even a store. It's an "Experience Center" in an upscale Beverly Hills mall.

CODA-Map

CODA

Think EVs are only good for short hops? CODA says you can do better than that. This map is at the company's Century City Experience Center.

CODA-LA River

CODA

A test drive took the CODA fleet to the historic L.A. River.

CODA-Battery

CODA

It's what makes the magic happen: CODA's battery pack.

CODA-Charger

CODA

If you have an EV, you need to get used to looking for these. CODA keeps them in the parking garage and keeps the cars juiced up for test drives.

CODA-Plugged in

CODA

It really is as simple as plugging the thing in.

CODA-Back

Nate Napierala

One car, one name, and very simple, startup view of the future of driving.


Let me draw a picture for you of the electric car market, circa autumn 2012. At the high end, you have Tesla Motors, selling or not selling, depending on your patience with the startup's delivery schedule, an all-electric Roadster, priced over $100,000; and an all-electric sedan, the Model 2, priced anywhere from about $50,000 to upwards of $100,000, depending on how you spec it out.

Then there's Nissan's Leaf, which can be be had for less than $30,000, once you get finished with various credits. The Ford Focus EV is in the same ballpark, around $30,000 once the tax credits kick in.

The Mitsubishi MiEV, even farther down the ladder, is yours for just over $20,000. But it's bare-bones.

You can lease, but not buy, the Honda Fit EV for around $400 per month. 

Pretty much everything else is some type of hybrid or plug-in hybrid, so you don't get pure, zero-emissions, all-electric motoring.

Read More...

Is Tesla Motors running out of money — again?

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

Tesla's recently revealed Model X crossover electric vehicle. The company has just announced a new sale of shares to raise money — and avoid payment problems with a Department of Energy loan.

Tesla Motors, the startup electric carmaker whose CEO, Elon Musk, also runs private space-exploration firm SpaceX, is having another one of its periodic financial near-heart attacks. The latest news is that the company, which staged a $226-million IPO in 2010, wants to sell additional stock. A second offering of 6.9 million shares would bring in close to $150 million. [UPDATE: As a commenter notes, the offering was rather less than 40 million shares. Don't know where I got that... Also, this is Tesla's second secondary offering. So really, it's the third offering, including the IPO.]

Why? Yet another cash crunch for the company, which was pretty close to checking out in 2008, before Musk managed to find additional funding and do a deal with Daimler. The critical issue this time around involves the Department of Energy and it controversial loan program for greentech companies. Who can forget Solyndra? But electric cars are also a substantial part of the program, with both Tesla and Fisker Automotive — the two biggest names in alt.transportation — winning loans.

Read More...

Fisker electric-car scandal: Is this the new Solyndra?

Biden Announces Conversion Of Idled GM Plant To Electric Car Manufacturing

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

WILMINGTON, DE - OCTOBER 27: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the former GM Boxwood Plant on October 27, 2009 in Wilmington, Delaware. Fisker Automotive announced that the company is buying the plant to produce affordable plug-in hybrid automobiles. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Biden

The Department of Energy's $535 loan gurantee to bankrupt solar startup Solyndra has become the Obama Administration's first quasi-scandal, with critics insisting that the government shouldn't be funding risky green-energy companies and supporters (myself included) arguing that the government is the only investor that can handle the risk. But now the bickering has spread beyond solar to the go-go world of electric vehicles — just as "Revenge of the Electric Car," the sequel to "Who Killed the Electric Car," is hitting theaters.

ABCNews and the Center for Public Integrity have teamed up to investigate DOE loans guarantees, focusing on two marquee EV companies, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, which together have received about a billion in government-backed financing. The takeaway isn't pretty:

Read More...