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What If You Build It – and They Don’t Come? Send the Bill to the Taxpayers

So-called progressives have no problem taking from the working class to give to the rich – so long as it’s the rich of their choosing… via L.A. Liberty

The Fisker Karma is Back

What if you build it – and they don’t come?

Send the bill to the taxpayers!

Twice.

This is how you make money in the New America. Well, the green America.

Don’t earn it.

Steal it.

The “business model” is simple enough: Glom on to a politically high-fashion issue – electric cars, for instance. Then obtain government (meaning, taxpayer) “help” to fund their design and manufacture. When no one – or not enough – people buy your electric wunderwagen, simple declare bankruptcy and walk away.

With your pockets full of other people’s money.

Then, when the smoke clears, do it again.

This is exactly what electric car company Fisker – which produces (well, produced) the $110,000 Fisker Karma – did.

And is getting ready to do a second time.

Back in ’09, the company secured $529 million in government loans, which were being doled out generously by the Obama administration (and previously by the Bush administration) under the auspices of something called the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

Well, “loan” is not exactly accurate – because the government doesn’t really have any money of its own to loan. It only has the money it takes from you and me others via taxation. So what really happened is that the government forced the taxpayers of the United States to loan Fisker $529 million. (It also forced the taxpayers to “help” fund another electric boondoggle, the infamous – but now forgotten – Solyndra debacle.)

Fisker, like Tesla, specializes in high-dollar electric exotic cars that – so far – have not earned an honest dollar but have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. Billions, actually. The reason for this ought to be obvious – no engineering degree required.

Electric cars make sense when they are economical cars.

To date, no one has managed to manufacture one. They cost more – overall – to own than conventional cars and they also (unlike conventional cars) have functional liabilities that include long recharge times and limited range. Rather than focus on – and fix – these issues, which might make for a marketplace-viable electric car, manufacturers like Fisker and Tesla build high-performance, flashy and very, very expensive electric cars. On the theory that sex appeal rather than economic sense will sell ’em. … [B]uying a Fisker or a Tesla literally triples or quadruples the cost of driving.

Yes, yes, the cars are sleek and sexy – and even quick.

Which is as relevant insofar as the bottom-line purpose of an electric car… People in a position to buy a six-figure Fisker Karma (like the actor Leonardo diCaprio, for instance) are not struggling to pay their fuel bills.They buy a Fisker or a Tesla as a fashion statement.

But the people who are concerned about gas bills aren’t in the market for a six-figure Fisker.

Hence the need for government “help.”

When you can’t sell ’em, force others to subsidize ’em. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Apple’s New Cupertino Campus Construction Shown in Drone Video

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said the new Cupertino, Calif., campus would house 12,000 employees when he presented the idea in 2011. Drone footage shows that the 2.8-million-square-foot spaceship-like office complex is now taking shape. Photo/Video: YouTube/Duncan Sinfield


‘Future Teardown’ of an Apple Car Shows Us Who Could be Making the Various Elements 

Ben Lovejoy reports: While we can’t say for sure that an Apple Car will ever go on sale, it’s a certainty by this point that the company is devoting substantial development resources to the project. Tim Cook said recently that there would be “massive change” in the car industry, and that “autonomous driving becomes much more important.”

But as a recent opinion piece on sister site Electrek argued, and Elon Musk warned, actually manufacturing a car is massively more complex than making consumer electronics devices. Apple will therefore be looking for partners to pull together different elements of the car. Re/code has put together an interesting look at the most likely candidates …

None of the companies would comment on any conversations they have with the Cupertino giant about their own cars. None of them flat-out denied those conversations, either. Google, Tesla and Apple all declined to comment.

The list below is not exhaustive. Yet after conversations with nearly a dozen manufacturers, industry experts and tech companies involved in the world of self-driving cars, Re/code assembled a portrait of the leading, innovative companies and critical dynamics in the autonomous industry.

The exterior of the car could, it suggests, be made by five companies: Roush, Delphi, Edison2, Atieva and Renovo Motors. The first of those, Roush, is a Michigan-based “boutique automotive supplier” which already has one key claim to credibility in the field: it assembled the exterior for Google’s prototype self-driving cars.

[Read the full story here, at 9to5Mac]

Renovo recently teamed-up with engineers from Stanford University to create a self-driving electric DeLorean capable of donuts and drifting. While it was of course a PR stunt, you need some impressive tech to pull it off. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple Speeds Up Electric-Car Work

Daisuke Wakabayashi reports: Apple Inc. is accelerating efforts to build an electric car, designating it internally as a “committed project” and setting a target ship date for 2019, according to people familiar with the matter.

The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan , have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.

‘We look at a number of things along the way, and we decided to really put out energies in a few of them.’

—Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO

Apple has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Apple’s commitment is a sign that the company sees an opportunity to become a player in the automotive industry by applying expertise that it has honed in developing iPhones—in areas such as batteries, sensors and hardware-software integration—to the next generation of cars.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

There are many unanswered questions about Apple’s automotive foray. It isn’t clear whether Apple has a manufacturing partner to become the car equivalent of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that builds most iPhones and is known by the trade name Foxconn. Most major auto makers build and run their own factories, but that hasn’t been Apple’s strategy with iPhones or iPads. Contract manufacturing in the auto industry usually is limited to a few niche models.

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The 2019 target is ambitious. Building a car is a complex endeavor, even more so for a company without any experience. Once Apple completes its designs and prototypes, a vehicle would still need to undergo a litany of tests before it could clear regulatory hurdles.

In Apple’s parlance, a “ship date” doesn’t necessarily mean the date that customers receive a new product; it can also mean the date that engineers sign off on the product’s main features.

[Read the full text of Daisuke Wakabayashi‘s article here, at WSJ]

It isn’t uncommon for a project of this size and complexity to miss ship date deadlines. People familiar with the project said there is skepticism within the team that the 2019 target is achievable. Read the rest of this entry »


Holman W. Jenkins Jr: The Savior Elon Musk

Musk-photo-patrick-fallon-wsj

Tesla’s impresario is right about one thing: Humanity’s preservation is a legitimate government interest

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: There is often a large difference between what people imagine they are doing and what they are actually doing. Especially in politics, any relationship between the effect of policy, the goal of policy and the stated goal is often incidental to the point of randomness.

“He’s not the first to suggest that dramatically reducing the cost of earth orbit is a key to future space endeavors. He isn’t the only dot-com millionaire to turn his attention to space.”

Adding to the complexity, the doers themselves are often confused about the relationship between rhetoric and reality.

Which naturally brings us to a new biography of Elon Musk, whose entrepreneurial energy is a marvel; the world would be better off if there were more like him, even if a “nonstop horrible” childhood was a precursor to his adult achievements. That said, the “change the world” stuff, let alone the “save humanity” stuff, that fills Ashlee Vance’s admired “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future is a tad overdone.

spaceX

“If he succeeds, though, in delivering his cheap, reusable heavy-lift vehicle, vast new possibilities will open up. Fifty years from now if there are hotels and factories in orbit, they may well be SpaceX hotels and factories.”

Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House roof. GM rolled out its EV1 electric car in 1996. Mr. Musk has been selling back to affluent, middle-aged baby boomers their own youthful ideals in the shape of roof panels and plug-in cars.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

These items sell not because the moment is ripe to transition the world economy to solar but as vanity trinkets for the rich that even the rich wouldn’t buy without a large helping of taxpayer money.

Artist's concept of the new SpaceX Dragon, which may one day fly from Brownsville, Texas (Image: SpaceX)

Artist’s concept of the new SpaceX Dragon, which may one day fly from Brownsville, Texas (Image: SpaceX)

“If a human outpost materializes on Mars, it may well be a SpaceX outpost.”

Yes, Mr. Musk deserves credit for organizing his enterprises and getting them off the muskground. The bureaucratic obstacles to starting a car business are especially daunting. And his Tesla Model S is a lovely object and wonderful machine.

[Order Ashlee Vance’s book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” from Amazon.com]

Nowhere in Mr. Vance’s book, though, does the figure $7,500 appear—the direct taxpayer rebate to each U.S. buyer of Mr. Musk’s car. You wouldn’t know that 10% of all Model S cars have been sold in Norway—though Tesla’s own 10-K lists the possible loss of generous Norwegian tax benefits as a substantial risk to the company. Read the rest of this entry »


Tesla Hires Head Apple Recruiter After Losing Own Recruiter to Apple Car Team

Musk with the Tesla Model S in Fremont on Oct. 1, 2011.

 writes: Tesla has taken its recruiting of Apple employees to the next level: the electric car and energy company has hired away Apple’s Senior Director of Corporate Recruiting, Cindy Nicola, to become Tesla’s new Vice President of Global Recruiting. Nicola has already noted her new role and start month of May on her LinkedIn profile.

Notably, Apple actually hired away Tesla’s Lead Recruiter in 2014 for its own electric car project, as we noted in our extensive profile of Apple’s automotive related hires. Interestingly, that former Tesla recruiter Lauren Ciminera has already left Apple to work on a new “confidential” project, according to her own LinkedIn page and confirmation from a source… Read the rest of this entry »


MIT Technology Review: Inexpensive Electric Cars May Arrive Sooner Than You Think

Family In Self-Driving Car

The Remarkable Plunge in the Cost of Electric Vehicles

A new study suggests that battery-powered vehicles are close to being cost-effective for most people.

Mike Orcutt writes: Electric cars may seem like a niche product that only wealthy people can afford, but a new analysis suggests that they may be close to competing with or even beating gas cars on cost.

The true cost of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars is a secret closely held by manufacturers. And estimates of the cost vary widely, making it tough to determine
just how much lower they must go before electric vehicles with long ranges can be affordable for most buyers. But a peer-reviewed study of more than 80 estimates reported between 2007 and 2014 determined that the costs of battery packs are “much lower” than widely assumed by energy-policy analysts.

boy-electricity

The authors of the new study concluded that the battery packs used by market-leading EV manufacturers like Tesla and Nissan cost as little as $300 per kilowatt-hour of energy in 2014. That’s lower than the most optimistic published projections for 2015, and even below the average published projection for 2020. The authors found that batteries appear on track to reach $230 per kilowatt-hour by 2018.

If that’s true, it would push EVs across a meaningful threshold. Depending on the price of gas, the sticker price of an EV is expected to appeal to many more people if its battery costs between $125 and $300 per kilowatt-hour. Because the battery makes up perhaps a quarter to a half of the cost of the car, a substantially cheaper battery would make the vehicle itself significantly cheaper too. Alternatively, carmakers could maintain current EV prices but offer vehicles with much longer ranges. Read the rest of this entry »


Blossom: The $5,950 Coffee Machine That Apple, Tesla and NASA Built

blossom__render3

The same high-end appliance Starbucks uses to fine-tune brews

Silicon Valley types know how to optimize their lives.

 reports: They monitor workouts with high-tech armbands and step-counters and control their homes’ temperatures from the comfort of their iPhones. The hard-core have even removed the guesswork from their diets, ingesting nutrients in the form of a few fine-tuned daily protein shakes and vitamins from IV drips. Don’t you just hate them?

sidamo

So it is not surprising that the tech world’s top brass put their heads together to create the perfect coffee machine, the Blossom Brewer. Made specifically for cafes and restaurants, of course, the tech elite have snaffled them up for their homes.

The one-cup machine was developed by a group of engineers with experience at Apple, Tesla Motors, BMW and NASA. Yes, NASA.  Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Elon Musk on SpaceX Winning Multi-Billion Contract from NASA

Elon Musk is looking happy following the $2.6B bid the SpaceX just won from NASA – against all odds…

Overview:
00:00. About winning the bid
01:00. Dragon V2 & first manned flights
03:03. Blue Origin & the competition
05:00. The Gigafactory

Date: September 16, 2014
Elon was 43 years old

 


Could Electric Cars Threaten the Grid?

Some neighborhood grids just aren’t built for huge spikes in power demand. The rise of the electric car has utilities scrambling to adjust.

By Kevin Bullis

WHY IT MATTERS – Electric cars can draw large amounts of power from the grid.

Plugging in an electric vehicle is, in some cases, the equivalent of adding three houses to the grid. That has utilities in California—where the largest number of electric vehicles are sold—scrambling to upgrade the grid to avoid power outages.

Last year in the United States, only about 50,000 electric cars were sold. And researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have calculated that the grid has enough excess capacity to support over 150 million battery-powered cars, or about 75 percent of the cars, pickups, and SUVs on the road in the United States. But there’s a catch. While power plants and transmission lines have excess capacity, things can get tight when it comes to distributing power to individual neighborhoods. And this is especially the case since electric vehicle sales aren’t evenly distributed. In California, for example, they’re taking off in Silicon Valley and places such as Long Beach and Santa Monica.

Electric cars being sold today can draw two to five times more power when they’re charging than electric cars that came on the market just a couple of years ago. But the impact of charging one depends on where it is on the grid and how it is charged. They don’t pose a problem if they’re charged slowly at conventional 110 volt outlets. And public fast-charging stations don’t impact the grid much because they are part of commercial grids that have transformers and other equipment sized to accommodate large loads.

Read the rest of this entry »


Another Green Company Goes Belly-Up

The American solar and wind industries have had a rough go of it the past few years despite considerable assistance from Washington. Now, the FT reports that A123 Systems, a company that specializes in manufacturing batteries for electric cars, is filing for bankruptcy. This is yet another blow for Obama’s green energy program, under which the company received a $249 million grant:

[The] bankruptcy follows that of other companies backed by US government grants or loan guarantees, including Solyndra, a manufacturer of innovative solar modules, Abound Solar, another panel maker, and Ener1, which also makes batteries for electric cars.

The news is unsurprising; electric cars simply aren’t selling as well as boosters promised. Following low sales reports, A123 missed a debt payment on Monday, and announced plans to file for bankruptcy and sell most of its assets to to other companies.

A123 Systems is only the latest in the growing list of failures in Obama’s controversial green jobs agenda, which Republicans have been consistently attacking on the campaign trail. Whether or not the Administration pays a political price for these failures, it’s time for a change of direction before millions more dollars are wasted.

Via Meadia