By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist
My teeth hurt.
Over the past week, I’ve been assaulted by one “news” story after the next about the latest fruit of government motors. Not GM. Tesla. The Model D. It is very slick! And very quick! It has all-wheel-drive! Not one but two electric motors (which isn’t new, by the way). Orgiastic comparisons with Porsche 911s and other exotic high-performance cars.
No mention, of course, that the government doesn’t pay people to buy 911s. Nor is Porsche a rent-seeking cartel whose existence depends on government support.
I was asked recently during a radio interview (here) why I do not like the Tesla. But that is not the right question, much less a fair question.
I haven’t got any particular like — or dislike — for the Tesla as such. If Elon Musk — or anyone else wants to build a car (powered by whatever, be it electricity or air or unicorn farts) and offer it for sale, they ought to be free to do so. I certainly have no objection to that.
What I do object to is being forced to “help” anyone else manufacture — or purchase — a car. I especially object to being forced to “help” the very affluent buy this toy.
The least expensive Tesla is a $60k car. Anyone who can afford to spend $60k on a car is someone who does not need my “help” to buy it. I’ve never spent more than $10,000 on a car myself — and all of it was my money. The guy who buys a Tesla gets a $7,500 federal tax kickback — more than what I paid for one of my trucks.
Why is it that — so far as I have been able to determine — no one in the mainstream media ever bothers to ask Elon Musk: If your car is so uber-luscious, how come it’s necessary to dangle large amounts of other people’s money in front of prospective buyers? Porsche doesn’t need to do this. Indeed, Porsche typically sells every car at full mark-up. Good luck trying to haggle down the price of a GT3.
Why is this?
I’ll tell you why. Rather, I’ll tell you what the supine (and engineering-ignorant) media will not tell you:
While the Tesla is indeed slick, its quickness is extremely short-lived if used. It has the capability to reach 60 MPH in just over 3 seconds. But it does not have the capability to do so more than a handful of times before you run the battery pack to “empty” — at which point you had better be within close proximity of an electric hook-up and have at least 30-45 minutes to kill while the car recharges itself. That’s assuming the hook-up is one of Tesla’s “super” charging stations. On ordinary household current, the recharge time is several hours.
In order for the Tesla to deliver on its touted maximum rage (an alleged 275 miles) it must be driven like a Corolla — not a 911. Accelerate pedal to the metal more than a handful of times or run it up to 80 and hold it there — and watch the battery charge indicator drop more rapidly than the gas needle in a ’70 Hemi ‘Cuda with 3.90 gears.
And the ‘Cuda at least refuels in minutes rather than hours.
Which rather defeats the point, does it not?
What, after all, is the point of paying $60k-plus for a car with excellent performance which you can realistically use only every now and again? Imagine if Porsche 911s came with a 1 gallon fuel tank — which you had to refill using a syringe. The car would accelerate furiously…. until you burned up the gallon of fuel. Which would happen very quickly. Now, you’d get to spend the next 30-45 minutes drawing gasoline into a syringe and squeezing it little by little into your car’s one gallon tank. If you needed to drive any significant distance, you’d have to drive as if you had an egg under the accelerator pedal. Keep it around 55-60. Do not pass that slowpoke up ahead. Indeed, you’d better drive like a slowpoke.
How many people would buy such a car? Would pay $60k-plus for such a car?
This is why billionaire Musk needs your money to make his “business” work. His cars are unsalable on their merits. So he resorts to government force. And that’s why I dislike Elon Musk — and disparage the Tesla.
Note, by the way, that Apple computer never resorted to force. I mention Apple because of the oft-repeated Elon Muskian BS that “early adopters” of Apple’s initially expensive gadgets up-ended the usual model of trying to sell basic, inexpensive stuff to a large audience and then building the fancy/expensive stuff. No one that I am aware of ever got a government kickback to induce them to buy a Mac or an iPhone or tablet. And so, I am not annoyed when I see a young hipster playing with his $600 iPhone. I figure he either bought it with his own money or his parents’ money.
But he did not buy it with my money.