Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh Dave, are you not free from corporate interests?

So I'm watching David Letterman last month and the guest is Elon Musk, owner of Tesla motors. He got Dave all riled up about electric cars, and by the end of the show Dave was calling all the big American car companies greedy, short-sighted boneheads for not supporting electric car technology - particularly making fun of the Chevy Volt for having a mere 40-mile range before it starts using gas.

It seems this pissed a sponsor off, because who did he have on tonight? Some corporate flack for Chevy, there to talk about how great the the Volt is. It was hard to watch. His arguments basically boiled down to 'we're a corporation, and it makes more financial sense to make huge gas-guzzling cars than socially responsible ones'. He also made fun of the famous EV-1, announcing that they built a thousand of them, and their total cost was around 100,000 each - he didn't explain what the figures involved were, though - is that assembly and parts, or is he counting the entire R&D of the car - which sounds much more likely, since he's talking about a hundred million dollars.

It only got worse when it was time to roll out the Volt (which is ugly as sin, by the way), Dave had to badger the guy for a full minute before he'd admit that it was going to cost 40K, but then quickly compared it to the Tesla Roadster, which runs 100K - again, he's just lying here. It's apples and oranges to point out that his sedan is 60 grand less than a high-end sports car. I'm sure that's true, but you're really not going for the same market, are you?

Somehow it never managed to come up that the car they are in competition with, the Tesla 'Model-S' which is likely going to cost around 50K. I suppose if the public heard that for just ten thousand dollars more they'd never have to stop at a gas station again it might stomp on the PR flack's point a little.

Do you think Dave was specifically asked not to mention it?

I'm going to have to get some pictures of these guys, but what does it say that the man who went on a talk show to sell the Electric Car to America is a young guy, a computer genius entrepeneur and self-made millionaire who decided he wanted to change the world by giving it electric cars, and the man selling Hybrids to America is a 77-year-old former Marine who's worked for various car companies his entire post-military career, and looks like he has a steak and bourbon for dinner at least four times a week?

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