• Apr 11th 2009 at 5:31PM
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Since it was announced that the highly quotable Bob Lutz would be departing from his General Motors management spotlight, automotive bloggers and reporters everywhere have been mourning the loss of an executive with such an exquisite way with words. Now it appears that the pining may have been premature, thanks to the emergence of another top management type with the brass, it seems, to freely speak his mind in public.

In a new interview with Yahoo! Tech Ticker's Sarah Lacy, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was asked what he thought of an earlier New York Times piece that voiced opposition to a government loan for the electric car maker. With a huge smile indicating his delight in the opportunity to speak about the issue, Mr Musk said, "Randy Stross is a huge douchebag". After a brief pause he added, "...and an idiot." Take that, Mr. Fancy Pants reporter guy!

In the course of the interview, Musk goes on to explain exactly how he felt the writer in question cherry-picked from the facts to make a case for Department of Energy loan denial, going on to vigorously defend the Tesla business model. In the conversation that followed the opening barrage, it was very interesting to note the certitude expressed by Elon that Tesla Motors would receive the low interest loan requested from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program. Noting that his company is a "perfect fit" for ATVM funds, he states, "The odds of us getting that money ($350 million) are 99 percent..." and alluding to assurances given in private meetings, Musk suggested the funds are coming and coming soon. Hit the jump for the entertaining and informative video.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Unfortunately we're up against old habits and old mentalities of GM, clearly from some of these blog posts.

      The tech advances has made EVs superior to gas cars. You just have to accept a new habit and lifestyle that is actually better. Just like A/C was expensive, now almost all cars have them. Once that is done then people can see and believe that charging is better than filling gas.

      It's the difference between buying a slightly more expensive product that'll last longer at a lower cost and a product that is cheaper but that'll cost more and go out of service in a shorter time. Short term vs long term. We haven't changed our mentality to long term business and lifestyles and that's why you've got blind people saying GM is better even though they're bankrupt. LOL.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Bill

        To be fair... EVs have the potential to be WAY cheaper than your traditional ICE. That's what people are campaigning for I think. As it is, you can buy an engine-less shell of a car (for 300 bucks?) and stick a motor+ some batteries in for under $10k and you have a pretty zippy car that you can charge from you wall with the solar power on your roof or the nightly power rates. Saving you probably $10k+ over the life of the car.

        As far as the Model S goes... at least its a damn nice car as it is, and what I would expect to be paying for luxury sedan. I would probably pay that amount alone for the pants-wetting acceleration these puppies have.

        Clearly, the different markets will have different BEV offerings (perhaps the better place model for the really tight budgets? Or NEVs for those who just want to drive their kids to school/run errands/commute 10 miles) You'd be surprised how many people take their SUVs to currently do these same tasks. I hope to one day see EVs in all walks of life.
        • 6 Years Ago
        EVs are a little more than "slightly more expensive"

        Tesla has only shown it can hand-build a few dozen very expensive EVs.

        At this point no one knows if their kludge of a battery pack (nearly 7,000 individual cells) will outlive its 3 year warranty.

        And Tesla has NO capacity currently to mass prodcue their next "Model S" even though they're flogging the prototype all over town.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Nice hair plugs, douchebag!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Whoever believes that electrical cars are still a technical problem is either uninformed or an idiot. My uncles electric cars (www.stromboli.ch) are 23 and 15 years old, each of them do use less than 100Wh/km and are running on lead-acid - and nowadays there are battery-chemistries one could only dream of 20 years ago (LiFePo4, for instance). He will switch his bigger car (the Stromboli 2) to LiFePo4 soon and will then be able to go 500km here in the swiss hills and still have it recharged in about 3h on the right power source.
      • 6 Years Ago
      10 reasons why we should let GM goes under.

      1-Tesla is putting us back on the map, GM is shaming us world wide
      2-Tesla is building a plant, GM is closing multiple plants
      3-Tesla going to create jobs, GM is restructuring/shedding jobs
      4-Tesla going to hire engineers, GM is firing them
      5-Tesla ask for millions, GM received billions
      6-Tesla vehicles can be charged at home(I don't think we have to import solar power), ALL current GM production vehicles uses gasoline (I do mean ALL --- the Volt is far from production)
      7-Tesla does not have a union, GM have the biggest union in America (UAW)
      8-Tesla S is a real deal, the Volt is a political magic show.
      9-Tesla is not asking for a bailout, GM recieved a bailout.
      10-Tesla roadsters are currently on the street right now, GM Volt is far from production.

      Give TESLA their money at least they're not using that money to fired people, they're creating more jobs....Give Tesla their @#$# money
        • 6 Years Ago
        I do agree with you that GM is a national asset, but we are American. We are a capitalist society, we don't do bailout - Jefferson probally roll over in his grave right now. I know you love GM, i do too, i used to think their cars are really cool especially the corvette, but you know I just couldn't help to think. OUr childrens, and grandchildrens are paying for this bailout right now, we are American, we are capitalist, we don't do bail out, government should not interfere....at alllll. To be honest GM makes alot of cars that are rich man toys too. Cadillac, Hummers, i hardly think the average Joe can afford those. From what you wrote I can tell you a patriotic guy buy this is not a patriotic time. Swift action is needed to make America Powerful again and that's by invest fully in company like Tesla, and you know what they're not asking for a lot of money, seriously a Fraction (one tenth of one tenth...i'm undervalueing...trust me)of what the government gave to GM, and Detroit. Oh yeah and check this out, an average car have about 5000 parts, and half, less or more of that is what made up in the engine. So i mean, seriously, if Tesla get the money that we gave to GM, they can build their car alot faster, come on dude see the great big picture, TESLA vehicles proablly have half the parts, even less than that, and the way an electric engine work, it can be assemble by machine rather than human. We can dominate the auto industry like we do in the higher end electronic industry, this is America...no bailout. That's not what our founding fathers want, if they we're alive today, they probally start a riot. It's like a great father, you don't want you kids to fall but when they do, they should learn to get up, cause next time when your not there they won't know how to get up. Let them fall, let make them an example for that our future generation can look back and realize I should not relly on my governmetn I should learn to protect myself...so I don't end up like the European
        • 6 Years Ago

        That is part of the problem. You cannot measure success counting your number of employees, the number of items you produced etc. Success is whether you are profitable and fiscally strong or not. GM owes more money than Tesla ever will. On that note, Tesla is becoming profitable as we speak, while GM stays inefficient.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I dont know whether or not i'm arguing with a wall, but look here. GM makes inefficient vehicles, that uses fuels, import fuels. Lets say they are back on their feet and then what, Thank god or what ever is up there, but crude oil is only 50 a barrel whats going to happen if we let them[GM] revive their production and crude jump to 150 again. We will export trillion and trillion of dollars out of this country. So what if Honda and Toyota pick up market share, if we invest in advance technology today, and if we give Tesla the equavilant of GM's bailout, we probally have a global company in no time. PUT IT THIS way, if TESLA have GM production capacity...Toyota and Honda can eat their #$%#$ing hybrid. GM is over, let it go, It's time for a new guy a cool guy to take over. If Tesla can produce as much as GM, the world over will by our product, Chinese, Russian, European...etc will line the street from here to New York, the reasons why I said that is because they're paying a lot more for fuels than American does.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You and Richard in FLA got it spot on. The Obama administration is not stupid. They are going to give capital to the company with the best business plan and execution.

        I would be very, very concerned if I were Lexus, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes. They have nothing to compete against the Tesla Roadster or Model S. Who in their right mind would purchase a boring $65K Lexus over a Model S when it becomes available? That is one beautiful green car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        How many cars did GM build last year? How many did Tesla? One is in the millions, the latter is in the hundreds.
        How many employees do each of them have? How many pickups and vans and CUV's did Tesla build in the past 12 months? None?
        Don't bite off your nose to spite your face.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Minny, I agree with you on a lot of what you are saying, I want Tesla to build hundreds of thousands of cars asap, but destroying GM doesn't help America unless it is impossible for GM to build cars that America wants and needs. They have made a huge start with the Cruze and the Volt, if they can survive long enough to build them. Tesla will take years to build up their production numbers, so if GM fails, the only winners are Toyota and Honda. I guess that makes me a wall. Grin. And in the short term, say 3-6 years, the Tesla will be limited by the price of the battery. Even with a $7500 tax credit the Volt will be expensive at $39,000 less $7500 tax credit or $31,500 net. The Tesla S will be even more of a rich mans toy at $56,400 less $7500 or $49,900 net, and it will always have the range irritation liability, fast charging is too damaging, and too slow, so far. Tesla can't replace GM's quantity of sales for years, because the Tesla cars are going to be too expensive for quite a while.
        But you are right that GM doesn't build enough quality high mileage cars. The Malibu hybrid just isn't good enough, or inexpensive enough.
        GM is a national asset, and letting them go into an uncontrolled bankruptcy is like tossing the baby out with the bath water. Let them find an executive team that has a plan to build cars Americans want with high mileage and high quality, at a decent price,with the executives, the bondholders and the UAW all taking a haircut, and the loans will be worth it. If GM goes back to concentrating solely on gas guzzlers, they will die, and they know that now. Even an MBA fool can see where oil prices are going.
        Don't let your understandable irritation with GM blind you to the fact that there are significant parts of the corporation that are worth preserving, for a host of reasons.
        • 6 Years Ago
        GM may very well go into bankruptcy, but what will really anger most Americans is that GM Asia and GM South America are making a ton of money. The problem is that in the US and to a lesser degree in Europe, they have made horrible choices in their efforts to build cars. They thought they could safely make unrealistic deals with the unions in order to avoid strikes, and now the pension & health care plans are strangling the company.
        That is why a GSB may be in GM's best interest, shave off Hummer and Saturn, then start from scratch with the UAW. The only things the US makes in any numbers are food, oil, coal, jet aircraft and cars, I would hate to see a substantial portion of our production shifted to foreign auto makers. Tesla may make a thousand cars next year, and maybe 10,000 in a few years. The rest of GM's lost production would be built by Toyota and Honda. We don't need to lose that production, but we also don't want to reanimate a dead company, like GM was under Wagoner.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Generald Mismanagement build 10000000000000000000000 factories/plants and have 10000000000000000000000 jobss yet still requires GOVERNMENT bailout. Allegedly (For legal purposes lol) . That's just sad. Unprofitable, uncompetitive, this combination will only lead to liquidation, and when you ahve that much production capacity, you will rip the market apart. It's better to have thousands and thousand of small profitable companies than one giant unprofitable company. The overall economy will be much more stable when there is lots of competitions and profitable, rather than a few with lack of focus, like GM, Chrysler, and Ford (I do give Ford credit for restructuring their massive debts in the most hostile environment everrrr...I give Alan mully 2 thumbs and 2 toes up)
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Joe B.

        BMW is developing Hydrogen cars (Honda is as well) which fits into our current transportation model better than pure electric. Porsche now almost fully owns VW who owns Audi, Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, etc etc. VW will be the number 2 car maker in the world this year, beating out GM. They make petrol and diesel cars that get better gas mileage than most things offered in the states but they realize that the US has been brainwashed by companies like GM so they dont offer the full line here. Lexus is a subsidiary of Toyota, who is the number one car manufacturer for a reason: Theyve made affordable reliable cars for years. While I dont think Hybrids are the future, they are sure cost effective for consumers.

        Bottom line is, you cant look at the subsidiaries and say "OOH they're boned!" when they arent the ones making the money for the company.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Agreed Donald, Sarah is killer hot. Reminds me of my wife.....just in case she sees this.
      Elon, you rock, right on man. The nation needs more like you. Thanks to all entrepreneurs!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM didn't get their money because of viability concerns. So saying that Tesla is a great candidate for the money is a joke.

      Tesla just got above water on the cars they currently produce. And that's in the short term. Any unexpected costs will kill them. You have to make a noticeable short term profit to cover the long term costs behind selling a vehicle. And Tesla doesn't seem to have managed that.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Tesla is expected to be PROFITABLE by mid-late 2009. You try starting a company from scratch and being profitable in the first 5 years. It's pretty damn impressive. Even if they were making crap cars and manufacturing them in China. But they aren't sacrificing quality or their environmental ethics to get ahead and as such I can only have respect for them.

      • 6 Years Ago
      So we're giving this arrogant prick public money for a car that the common man will never see? I agree with Stross. Battery technology is not yet developed enough for mainstream so giving money to a company like Tesla is a waste of, well, money.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The battery is ready, Daimler-Benz going to use Liti-Battery in their new S-class. What these oil-backers are talking about is the one giant liti-battery. Tesla uses the SAME type of battery as ur cellphone, if that's not ready your cellphone probally exploded in your face long time ago.
        • 6 Years Ago
        polo, if you think for one second the common man aka the source of loans will ever be able to drive a Tesla in the nearable future, then you must be brainwashed by Elon Musk himself. Makes me sick that we are subsidizing companies like Tesla so the rich don't have to pay as much for their fancy electric cars.

        Polo must be a pimply face teen living in his parents basement. All I see are attacks on other commenters. Son, when you are old enough to pay taxes then maybe, just maybe you will be as frustrated as some of us.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "So we're giving this arrogant prick public money for a car that the common man will never see?"

        No, we're LOANING a company money to produce efficient cars that sub-premium and THEN average buyers will see. Telsa needs to roll out the Model S before it can roll out the Model T, which average buyers will be able to afford. This shouldn't require mental gymnastics to figure out...do you even have a license??
        • 6 Years Ago
        This is an understandable concern for any taxpayer. One may argue the details about whether or not the battery technology is ready to go mainstream yet. Personally, I think it is, perhaps not in as extreme a package as the Tesla (See Mitsubishi iMiEV). For the sake of argument though, lets assume it isn't and look at the following questions.

        How else would the technology get to the point where it can be used by the mainstream if not for companies like Tesla? What other type of business would be developing the technology in this specific direction? Probably not many, so then where is it going to come from? Government funded research?

        While I think government funded research has and will play a critical role in our switch to a green economy, I think smart investments from the government into innovative businesses is just as important. You need the companies to start figuring out how to practically apply and market the new technologies developed in the lab.

        Some people may dislike Elon's personality, but I think even they would have a hard time questioning his commitment to the environment. I do not think his goal is to create a new car company for the elite. I think he wants to do as much good as he can for the environment (and his wallet) by eventually offering models affordable to everyday people.
      • 6 Years Ago
      His name is Elon and he makes electric cars? That's funny.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Gotta love the argument that GM is better because they make more vehicles. The only reason they are still making any vehicles at all is the bailout from the government. Even with the bailout, they might not last through this year.

      If the government gave me 28 billion dollars, I'd be a lot richer than you, but that doesn't make me a financial genius. It's a bit unfair to have a private company competing with a government subsidized one and then complain that they aren't doing enough. Put them on a level playing field first and then compare them.

      Besides, does McDonald's make the best food? They certainly sell more than any other restaurant, so if quantity is all that matters, then they must make the best possible food, right? Or are quantity and quality two different things?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Tesla is doing more to advance the introduction of zero emission cars
      than the rest of the american motor industry put together !

      The management of the big corporations in Detroit must have been
      sick as pigs when they saw the new Tesla model S , or maybe they
      did not understand it, seeing as it does not have this Macho-aggressive
      stance of the current offerings from Detroit

      Either way ,the worlds large car makers will stop at nothing to run Tesla
      down into the dirt !
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's not just Detroit that has a problem with the EV concept...it's people in this country too. Americans want something that will extend their members by being big, bad, wasteful, and loud. An electric car? Come on....it's for wusses.
        • 6 Years Ago

        Maybe I'm just a hopeless optimist, but I do not think that mentality is actually held by the majority of Americans. Hell, if it was, GM and Chrysler would be rolling in money because we know they are damn good at making big, bad, wasteful and loud cars ;)

        That said, I also don't think the majority of Americans will buy a car that is more expensive just because it's "green". That's what has me so excited about EVs though. Not only are their running costs ridiculously low (no gas, no complex servicing, no oil changes), as battery technology is improved and made cheaper with economies of scale, there is no reason that the cars themselves could not be made much more affordable than their gasoline powered equivalents. Just think about it ... a motor with effectively 1 moving part requiring much less machining and no need for a transmission. I think that is the true promise of EVs, they can appeal to American's real heart, their wallet.
        • 6 Years Ago

        I'm not sure if I full agree regarding your assessment about what Americans want. Americans are driven by money and image and want more than functionality and need. If you put two cars next to each other...one being large and powerful...the other being small and efficient, I'd say...with ample evidence given to use from the past decade or two, that the former will be picked.

        SUV's were huge selling points because people wanted to feel bigger, higher, more in control, better than the person next to them. Of course, not every one wants one of these but when almost 50% of car sales at their peak were SUVs...what does that tell us?


        Sure not everyone does...but a lot of people around here do....and I'd say this place (i.e. autoblog) is a good cross-section.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Noz, not everybody "needs a big, bad, loud" car to make up for their small d*cks. Just saying.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Car manufacture is one of the most cutthroat and competitive industries out there. There's so many rules and regulations and palms that have to be greased that it's unbelievable.

      You will never see a startup car company sell as many cars as the big three within a few years. Never. It would be easier to buy GM and restructure it completely than make Tesla a brand name that people want to buy.

      Too many young guys think that the Starbucks/Google model of business will work in the car industry. It won't. You can't sell a 20/30+ thousand dollar car just because it looks cool or because it's the "in" thing. Oh, you might sell a few, but they'd better be damn good damn fast. Scion and Mini sold a few cars on the strenght of their cool factor, sure. But they sold the majority of their product because they're backed by Toyota and BMW respectively. So when you buy one, you know you're buying a car that was built by grownups and not by slackers in their parent's garage.

      There's a naivety at Tesla that's astounding, and it'll be their undoing. GM isn't going anywhere, neither is Chrysler (or Ford for that mater). Yes, they build huge inefficient cars, but so? They sell every one that they make and that's what counts in the end. Not some Utopian vision of a zero footprint company.

      Someone said once that Ford should stop making big pickup trucks and the Mustang, but just look at their sales figures. The F-series alone (just the trucks) counts for 40% of their US sales and the Mustang for 20%. That's 60% of everything they sell. They could stop selling the Focus and the Taurus and the Fusion and every SUV and Hybrid and every other truck/van they make AND every Lincoln and Mercury, and STILL stay in the black...ish. Green companies aren't a surefire economic winner and this loan is what it's about. Can Tesla compete and sell cars. The end. No one cares about their environmental impact. They want to make a profit, and if Tesla can't, they'll end up just like every other company who tried and died.

      To be perfectly honest, I wish Tesla the best but I don't care. I've grown to honestly loathe the modern "entertainment center with wheels/buspass you park at home" cars of today. They're expensive, heavy, claustrophobic to sit inside, and about as fun to drive as taking the subway. What's the point?

      When the time comes and gas goes the way of the dodo I'll switch the engine in my 20+ year old car to an electric one, and that's it. However, I'll never buy a new car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My Comment wasn't directed to you "chief", and unless you own this space, keep off. There is no "beef" or "bosch" with that people, I just have the right not to like what they represent. I will decide when it is time to move on. Meanwhile.....
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