Sunday, October 8, 2017

Elon Musk Continues To Dish Out The Old Razzle-Dazzle / By: Bruce Wilds

Lots Of Flash Can Create A Passionate Reaction
Elon Musk's enormous success at PayPal moved Musk into the spotlight making him an icon never far from generating headlines that put him squarely in our view. It seems we can always count on Elon Musk to find some new way to get on the front page of the news and razzle-dazzle us on any given day. Musk reminds me of the silver-tongued defense lawyer Billy Flynn from the movie musical Chicago. The cynic in me makes me dubious of his ability to pull off or complete several of his recent projects but regardless of the fact I'm skeptical he has definitely proven he can razzle dazzle us. It should be noted that Musk appears Teflon coated and he has suffered little fallout from promises and deadlines unkept, failure simply does not stick but seems to run off his back.

It would be unfair not to make an effort to put this into proper context. This all comes after recent news headlines and articles about all the problems Musk must solve before he can take us to Mars. To clarify, I'm not writing about the "Mars" that is located in a borough located in Butler County, Pennsylvania, with a population of 1,699 during the 2010 census, I mean the planet Mars. The problems surrounding travel to Mars, however, did not stop Musk from unveiling his plans last Friday in Adelaide, Australia, where he announced a new rocket that would allow passengers to travel from one continent to another in about 30 minutes. During the presentation, Musk showed a video of images of a rocket taking off in New York and landing in various places around the world, including Tokyo and Shanghai. He said the New York-Shanghai trip could be done in 39 minutes, while a trip from Bangkok to Dubai would take 27 minutes and Tokyo to Delhi would be 30 minutes.

Give 'em the old three ring circus, Stun and stagger 'em!
In some ways this is an extension of his plans for rocket travel to Mars, Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX along with the electric luxury car company Tesla said the space flights that would rapidly allow people to travel from one continent to another could help to pay for future missions to Mars and that the cost per seat should be about the same as full fare economy in an aircraft. Currently, SpaceX plans its first trip to Mars in 2022, carrying only cargo with a key mission to find the best source of water on the Red Planet. The first manned mission will follow in 2024. Space X is aiming to start construction on the first spaceship in the next six to nine months. 

These stories follow articles about Musk's plans to build a hydroloop or a "conceptual high-speed transportation system" incorporating reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors. A bing search of hydroloop system brings up a link to the https:/the website, which allows people to see just how much travel time they will save when they zip along between their starting point and where they are going at nearly 700 miles an hour. Seriously, the damn thing doesn't even exist and this website has people typing in unrealistic destinations. Latching on to this idea and expanding the hype another website declares that "When it comes to the competition to the build the world’s first hyperloop, Missouri won’t take no for an answer." It seems someone proposed a route linking Kansas City, the college town of Columbia, and St. Louis that didn't make the cut when  Hyperloop One announced the 10 winners of its Global Challenge, an initiative to identify the most promising sites for the world’s first hyperloop route.

Missouri's proposal lost out because of an apparent lack of support from state officials and local business leaders. But they claim that has changed with the announcement of the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, a partnership of public and private interests with the goal of raising $1.5 million to fund a feasibility study for the project. From a logistical perspective, they claim their hyperloop proposal was one of, if not the strongest in the United States. The 250-mile route running along Interstate 70 between Kansas City and St. Louis takes nearly four hours to drive the hyperloop would cut that to 25 minutes. Andrew Smith of the St. Louis Regional Chamber has been one of the key architects of the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition declined to give a precise timeline for when the feasibility study would happen, but he said the coalition is optimistic they will be able to raise the $1.5 million from the Missouri business community in the near future.

Give 'em the old hocus pocus!
Some of us critical of Musk not only point out how much of his money-losing ventures are supported and propped up by government subsidies, but that whenever, Musk is in trouble he goes into a dance, anything to distract or take eyes off the past promises he has failed to carry out. Like the proverbial snake oil salesman hyping the miraculous powers of his product and making outlandish claims accompanied by a tremendous amount of razzle-dazzle Musk tends to over promise. Snake oil products were said to have originated in China and many people believed that if you rubbed snake oil on your sore joints, then you would gain relief. Since the products didn't work as soon as they were sold the salesman would leave the area in haste.

With his plate more than full of tasks that would stress any other mortal Elon Musk has announced that Tesla is again postponing the electric truck event that was initially moved from the end of September to October 26, it has now been switched to November 16 which will allow it to focuses on Model 3 production and Puerto Rico. The CEO went on a quick Twitterstorm about the Model 3 on Oct 6th where he stated that Tesla is still in “production hell” when it comes to the Model 3. Even with this acknowledgment, the CEO seemed to not outright announce any delay in the delivery timelines for the regular customer deliveries. Of course, Tesla shares continued to shake off the bad news even with Goldman Sachs rating Tesla a sell with a six-month price target of $210, which represents downside of about 40% compared with Tuesday prices.“We continue to maintain our more cautious Model 3 ramp, which is far below company target,” they said.

Musk spoke for Tesla a while back saying it aimed to build 1,500 of the Model 3 in September, with plans to dial that up to 5,000 by the end of the year and 10,000 a week by the end of 2018, however, they only managed to finish 260, with only 220 of them reaching their new owners. The company blamed the shortage on "production bottlenecks" but failed to reveal, at least according to sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal (paywall), is that production went on at a much lower rate partly because a special area of the plant was assigned to hand assembly where workers put various pieces together manually. Tesla was supposed to use these initial months as an extended testing period, but the idea was to test the production cycle as well as the vehicle. With the former failing to perform, that means we might be looking at further delays in the promised ramp-up. It borders on insanity that since less than one vehicle in five thousand is a Tesla that the company is valued only second to Toyota as the most valuable car manufacture in the world. Many Americans have never seen a Tesla driven down the street.

Adding to the show Musk has created which many admirers find "so splendiferous" it now comes out that the governor of Puerto Rico has signaled his support for Elon Musk’s plan to use solar to restore power to the hurricane-stricken island. On Friday, Governor Ricardo Rossello made plans over Twitter to speak with the Tesla CEO further, describing the idea as potentially turning into the company’s “flagship project.” This is just one day after Musk outlined an idea to restore power to the island. Some parts of the Island were expected to spend the next four to six months without energy after Hurricane Maria. While Tesla has already shipped some Powerwall batteries to the island Musk’s plan to use solar to get all of Puerto Rico back online is far more ambitious. On Thursday Musk put out on Twitter that “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” he continued, “Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.”

Click Here And Learn The Secret Of "Razzle-Dazzling"
Please forgive me for not filling this article full of artist renditions of Musk's visions that give them far more credence than they might deserve. Struggling not to be overwhelmed by the trove of information available on Elon Musk and his ambitious plans I return to my original premise and how earlier I compared him to the silver-tongued defense lawyer Billy Flynn from the movie musical Chicago. One final thought, god help us if Musk continues to tap into the government and taxpayers to fund his projects that are not profitable to anyone other than Musk and those buying stock in his over the top ventures.

Footnote; My apologies to any Elon Musk fans I may have offended. Below are several other posts concerning both Musk and Tesla.

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