Can a million dollars hold Elon Musks' feet to the fire? That's the value of a bet that Wall Street Journal auto journalist and all-around interesting guy Dan Neil and the Tesla Motors CEO reportedly have going over the release of the upcoming Model S.

According to Green Car Reports, the bet hinges on Neil's 2009 comment that the Model S is "ambitious" and that Musk's promised delivery date of late 2012 was, "an audacious timeline that makes many in the car industry roll their eyes." Musk, also a bit of a boisterous one, apparently emailed Neil in 2009 to say: You wanna bet? The exact emails have apparently been lost, but GCR says the details, according to Neil, are as follows. For Musk to win, the Model S:
  • Needs to start series production and be delivered to the first paying customers by the end of 2012.
  • Have to be certified by NHTSA with a four- or five-star safety rating and it has to have seven seats.
  • Needs to be priced at $57,400 (for the base model with the 160-mile range), $67,400 (230 miles) and $87,400 (300 miles).
These are all targets that Tesla itself announced, so Neil is simply asking the company to follow through on its promises. There is one final sticking point, and for this we'll quote GCR directly:

[The Model S] has to have a battery pack that allows en-route swapping at a highway roadside station, similar to the Better Place battery swapping scheme.

We hope, for Musk's sake, that someone got their wires crossed here. As far as we know, the Model S was never supposed to have Better Place-style batter swap capability. Instead, the plan has always been, "When [Model S drivers] take an occasional two-way long distance trip, they'll get a replacement pack and then pick up their original one on the way back," with the swaps done at Tesla dealerships.

We have to assume Musk would like this clarified, too, since Neil claims that Musk will have to donate a million dollars to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) if Tesla doesn't hit these targets. If Neil loses, he's willing to donate a more modest, journalist-level $1,000 to MSF. Which side of the bet would you rather be on?


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  • 47 Comments
      Jake S
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seven seats? Does that mean Aunt Edna has to ride on the roof again?
      DaveM
      • 3 Years Ago
      Free advertising! It's working see . . @John H - If you read the article closely, the WSJ journalist only has to pony up $1,000 when he loses. @Lola R - no point looking at the photos. There are no photos of the rear facing child seats. @Hazdaz - No need for a delay. Everything at the factory is on schedule. Nothing is being rushed. Reservation holders (like me) have been invited to a factory tour and Model S ride on Oct. 1.
      michael
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've put close to$10k on Musk and am long Tesla, I'm betting on MUSK and Tesla =)
      M
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wouldn't bet against Elon - period. This guy has balls of steel and can make it happen.
      moderate fringe
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not bad looking on the design side. Kind of Maserati is what I thought too.. Why can't little GM attempt something like this. They are clueless. The Volt looks old and like an new cavalier that should have come out to a lukewarm response in the 90s. I'd rather have a 1988 CRX than volt. GM keeps playing the public for suckers and I guess so as long as they keep going with their terrible business model.
        Hossi Blumengaarten
        • 3 Years Ago
        @moderate fringe
        I agree with what you say but let us wait until this car comes out. If this thing sucks then we are going to have to eat our words though I hope GM and the Volt fail since i hate GM with every cell in my body
      usa1
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's OK, it's probably taxpayer "loan" money he bet. http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10439050-54.html
      Carlos Vargas
      • 3 Years Ago
      Musk is such a douche
        Daniel
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Carlos Vargas
        ill only call him a douche if he doesn't give SOMETHING to charity win he wins. Everyone's been betting their words against him- he just wants the stakes to be public. His confidence is something his stockholders appreciate i bet too. If they get the car out on time, for PR reasons he better give something away or that would be a douche move. if he doesn't give to charity it'll look bad
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      I rather they delay it another 6 months and get it right, than rush it to mean to imaginary deadline and totally mess it up. Under promise and over deliver.
      Kevin
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seven seats? I always thought this was at most a 5-seat standard sedan.
        letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kevin
        From Tesla's own website: "The Model S offers luxurious space, seating for five adults and two children, and a second cargo area under the hood. - Seating for 7" http://www.teslamotors.com/models/specs
        Phil
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kevin
        there are 2 seats in the trunk that face backwards that are removable. ment for children.
        soundbargaming
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Kevin
        I believe they said that they had two rear facing seats as well. I could be wrong.
      DaveM
      • 3 Years Ago
      @usa1 - Joking right? Nobody sneezes when the US Gov't loans GM $6.7B just to stay in business (2010). However, when an innovative company needs a $465M loan to acquire a large factory to produce next generation electric vehicles that will lead the way to reducing our dependence on foreign oil, this is a problem?? Seriously.
        Sukairain
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveM
        .... how many cars has Tesla sold ever? How about we grant that $465M to a company that's actually reducing foreign oil dependency? Nissan~ Oh wait, Nissan actually makes money on their products including the Leaf so they don't need a loan. So tell me why do we need to give anyone loans again?
          airchompers
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Sukairain
          @ David I'm not against the ideas of loans - heck! I have a couple. What I'm against is public loans. If this idea is so good, how come the money can't be raised privately?
          carfan
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Sukairain
          why on EARTH should I, as an American taxpayer loan money to an asian manufacturer...isn't it a blasphemy already that American taxpayers are subsidizing nissan by give a $7,000.00 tax break to the moron you buys a japanese Leaf . Are your American brains already fried beyond the point of no return???? Are your American self mutilating instincts driving you to total economic suicide???: it's you sukrairain and the likes of your lower middle class loser compatriots who are the bulk of the American unemployed, the same layer that buys the asian junk, and the hard working ameircans whop still have some pride in made in USA are subsidizing your fricking unemployment checks
          DavidL
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Sukairain
          For the same reason has most people have loans on houses or cars... Unless you think everybody should pay cash for everything from now on, which may be a good idea. Loans are temporary so why is it even a worry ? In addition to the money, there is no doubt that the Tesla loan will pay back big time for the US and the world by reducing oil dependency, hiring many workers and most importantly reducing overall carbon emissions.
      Lola Rose
      • 3 Years Ago
      7 seats??!!? i have to look at the pictures again....
      stclair5211
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tesla could not be a bigger waste of time and resources. Something I thought greenies were worried about. 60k for a car that goes 160mi? Why?! They should have just converted someone elses car. If you are serious about electrics that is where the revolution needs to start. Not in getting people to spend that kind of money on a glorified golf cart from a company with limited resources and limited dealer support across this country. Which with a 160mi range doesn't matter I suppose. Sad idiots in Hollywood and the elite will waste their money on this trying to prove some point not worth making.
        Mike Callen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stclair5211
        Well, let's see. Nissan charges you just shy of 40k for a car that goes 100 miles. Toyota and Ford are jumping into the EV market with vehicles priced around 40k that go around 100 miles. Basically, the bar has been set by 3 of the worlds largest car companies at a $/mile factor of 0.0025. Tesla is doing 60k for 160 miles which works out to 0.00266. I'd say that given Tesla does not have traditional vehicle sales to offset the cost, they're doing much better than 3 of the largest car companies in the world. With EV entries from Ford, Hyundai, Tesla, Fisker, BMW, Audi, Toyota, Nissan and several others you must know about a whole helluva lotta "idiots in Hollywood" - that's a bunch of cars. Just saying.
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