A bit of an online dust up has sprung up between the New York Times' Randall Stross and Jason Calacanis. Stross published a column the other day opposing Tesla Motors' application for low interest loans from the Department of Energy under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVM). That money would be used to fund development of the Model S sedan and construct the factory to build it. This is exactly the kind of thing that program was designed to fund. Calacanis, as a new owner of a Tesla Roadster and friend of CEO Elon Musk, is of course none to pleased with Stross. Stross's main thesis is that loaning money to a startup EV company would not be a good investment since the technology is not evolved enough. That is ridiculous on the face of it. While Tesla has made plenty of mistakes along the way to delivering some Roadsters, they do appear to be learning lessons from those errors.

On the flip side, Calacanis is no stranger to a bit of hyperbole himself. It's not clear that a Roadster would only cost 1/3-1/2 as much just by lowering the range to 100 miles and while the Model S will certainly be less expensive, $60,000 is still not what I would call an affordable car. However, it's a big step in the right direction. While Silicon Valley has a remarkable record of innovation, it remains to be seen if they have all the answers to the world's transportation problems. Considering the 100s of billions being flushed down the toilet of Wall Street, a $400 million loan (with interest and everything) to Tesla should be a no brainer.

  • No. 2 - Tesla Roadsters are in production, albeit in small numbers still, and the company is still with us (for now at least). We've driven it and it's a wonderful sports car - even disregarding the powertrain. Factor in that electric drive and it's amazing. Unfortunately, recent financial issues have threatened the company's future. The investors seem committed to making Tesla survival so far.

[Sources: New York Times, Jason Calacanis]

Share This Photo X