Tesla Motors sails into well-charted and dangerous waters

Fans of high performance sports cars and green transportation are both anxiously awaiting the production launch of the Tesla Roadster. The Roadster is perhaps the most anticipated new car of recent times, but not everyone is enthusiastic. It's not the car or the Tesla's intentions that are the problem. The issue lies in Tesla's chances of long-term survival. The history of the automobile is littered with vastly more defunct automakers (and not all them startups) than successful ones. Just think of Tucker, Vector, Hudson, REO, and Edsel.

Don't get me wrong, I do hope that Tesla makes it and thrives, because any time someone new can enter a market and shake it up with something better, that's a good thing. The existence of cars like the Chevy Volt are probably at least in part due to the excitement created by the Roadster. However, the odds are very much against them and Martin Eberhard and his team are aware of that and they've tried to be ready.

They have by all accounts done a lot testing and encountered and fixed some problems. But in spite of all the preparation, the battery pack is still a very big question mark. And Lotus has an outstanding reputation for engineering excellence, matched by their dubious record for build quality. Tesla has a plan that may well lead them to success but potholes like the ones in Michigan can also tear up a suspension. Tesla is the most likely of the current crop of EV startups to survive infancy, but we'll just have to wait and see.

[Source: sfist]

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