Elon Musk: Daimler, not the government, saved Tesla

Elon-Musk-Daimler,-not- the government,-saved-Tesla

Recently speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, in his typically candid fashion, gave some interesting insight into his company’s Department of Energy Loans and how it was indeed Daimler that saved Tesla, not the government.

As a quick side note, if you haven’t seen Chris Paine’s excellent Who Killed the Electric Car?, or his follow up Revenge of the Electric Car, do so now. Both films are a great look into the modern history of the electric car and help give insight into the birth of the current generation of EVs on, or coming to, the market.

In Revenge of the Electric Car, a plucky Elon Musk is struggling to keep his company afloat. The young Tesla CEO reveals that in the startup’s early days, he had to wire $3 million of his personal fortune so that the company could pay its employees.

Now, in the wake of a $465 million DOE low-interest loan guarantees Tesla received under the government’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, Musk believes it was Daimer, and not the DOE, that saved Tesla from bankruptcy.

“We were saved by Daimler,” Musk said, before adding that Daimler’s $50 million, 9 percent ownership of Tesla was more than enough for the company to launch a successful public offering without help from the DOE.

Some may see Musk’s statements as unappreciative – biting the hand that has fed, and is feeding, the company now. And while Musk could have easily been less cavalier about the loans from the DOE (he rarely is), he does have a point. Daimler’s investment was crucial to Tesla receiving the DOE loan guarantees in the first place – without them they probably wouldn’t have received the much-needed cash influx. But the loans handed out by the DOE are important to Tesla’s long-term success, and have allowed the California startup to do a lot more.

Of course, $465 million in tax-payer money isn’t something to just ignore. Musk seems to acknowledge this in his own way, adding, “The DOE was a helpful catalyst,” but that it wasn’t crucial to the company’s survival or success, he says.

model-s-alpha-and-roadster_

Never one to pass up the chance to create some sort of buzz or controversy, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Tesla CEO went on to add that he “generally doesn’t believe government subsidies are good, but in some cases they do help.” Musk’s sentiment seems to stem from criticisms leveled at government subsidies, and believes these incentives artificially pick winners and losers – believing that the best company should win based on market performance.

According to Musk, the best way for society to help reduce problems concerning climate change is to impose a tax on carbon dioxide emissions rather than “indirect” government subsides, like those given for electric cars. Stating, “The ideal would be to tax C02.”

Of course, Musk’s statements, although generally provocative and overly boisterous, don’t generally cross into the realm of confusing. While the enigmatic CEO is certainly welcome to his convictions, the fact that Tesla is looking to be on the up and up has as much to do with those very loans he is opposed to, which by the way seem to operate more in theory than in principle.

Still, we can’t say for sure what Musk is thinking. Maybe he is distancing the company ahead of the 2012 Presidential campaign from the DOE, and all the political mudslinging surrounding the ATVM loan program. Or maybe he just enjoys causing a stir. Either way, Tesla is currently in a solid state, and Musk will no doubt be looking forward to continued success — and maybe another opportunity to fan the flames down the road. 

Health & Fitness

My niece lost her hearing. This is a story about how technology brought it back

For people with profound hearing loss, cochlear implants can restore sound. We explore what the procedure entails, how the system works, and take a look at the latest developments from Australian company Cochlear.
Business

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Model X owner claims confused Autopilot causes crash; Tesla rejects blame

The driver of a Tesla Model X told New Jersey police he veered off the road and crashed after the Autopilot system malfunctioned. He wasn't hurt or charged, but the crossover sustained significant damage. Tesla denies the claims.
Cars

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.
Cars

Report: Amazon and General Motors may invest in electric pickup company Rivian

General Motors and Amazon may invest between $1 billion to $2 billion for minority stakes in U.S. startup Rivian, an all-electric truck company, Reuters reports. Rivian introduced the R1T pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto show.
Cars

Ford F-150 recall: Fault could cause vehicle to downshift into first gear

Ford is recalling 1.48 million F-150 vehicles over a potential fault that could cause it to suddenly downshift into first gear. The automaker said it's currently aware of five accidents related to the issue.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.