Obama Subsidized Electric Car Company Tesla Investigated for Fires

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


obama tesla

Tesla has some big problems. This month it posted a loss of $38 million and its shares fell 16%. On top of that, it’s got battery issues.

The company, which got $465 million from Obama, makes electric cars which depend on wiring together 7,000 laptop batteries together. This is just as clumsy and unwieldy as a solution as it sounds. For one thing, laptop batteries are expensive. And it’s a clunky solution.

Obama donor Elon Musk, who got his buddy to trash the space program to give his Space X company a shot at the market, is talking up some giga solution, but for the moment Tesla can’t be much more than a niche company for people who like to waste money to have a car they can use as a talking point in California.

Obama’s battery factory push has failed. Musk is probably thinking that he can pry some more taxpayer cash out of Obama to build a battery factory, like the ones that Obama already subsidized. Considering Obama’s appetite for doing favors for donors, he’s probably right. But that doesn’t mean it will work.

And meanwhile an investigation just opened into Tesla over its battery fires. (Apparently wiring together thousands of laptop batteries to power a car isn’t that great of a solution.)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would launch a formal investigation into recent fires that destroyed two Tesla Motors Inc. Model S electric cars that had run over metal debris.

“The agency’s investigation was prompted by recent incidents in Washington state and Tennessee that resulted in battery fires due to undercarriage strikes with roadway debris,” the agency said in a statement. The probe would determine whether the vehicle has a defect that makes it dangerous to operate and could result in a recall and remedy.

Over a five-week period, two Model S sedans burned after hitting large pieces of metal on the highway in the U.S. Neither driver was injured. NHTSA declined to open an investigation after the first incident. There was a third fire in Mexico reported after a high-speed crash.

Musk then did what he does best, court publicity and make loud statements of dubious accuracy.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk claimed that the automaker requested the investigation to refute fears that electric cars were more prone to fires than other vehicles.

But the NHTSA disputed that, saying its decision was an independent process.

“In regards to Tesla, the agency notified the automaker of its plans to open a formal investigation and requested their cooperation,” the agency said, “which is standard agency practice for all investigations.”

So Musk went on to suggest that Tesla’s rep was the only thing that could save mankind from extinction.

“If a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change,” Musk wrote in a post to his blog on the Tesla website Monday night.

Err okay.

No doubt, Obama can fix this for him after the next OFA fundraiser.

Tesla fans will crow that the company repaid its debt and that it’s unfair to call it government subsidized. It’s no longer Obama subsidized, that’s true. It still however is government subsidized.

Tesla didn’t generate a profit by selling sexy cars, but rather by selling sleazy emissions “credits,” mandated by the state of California’s electric vehicle requirements.

Absent this shakedown of potential car buyers, Tesla would have lost $57 million, or $11,400 per car. As the company sold 5,000 cars in the quarter, though, $13,600 per car was paid by other manufacturers, who are going to pass at least some of that cost on to buyers of their products. Folks in the new car market are likely paying a bit more than simply the direct tax subsidy.

So basically if you buy a real car in California, you’re subsidizing Tesla’s crony capitalist vehicles for celebs. This makes Musk’s campaign for direct sales hypocritical. He’s only against restrictive government monopolies that hurt consumers when he’s not the one profiting from them.

More to the point, Tesla doesn’t have a business model for selling cars, but for selling emission credits. Tesla isn’t a car company. It’s an ecoscam rent-seeking company using the Global Warming myth to profit from government regulation and confiscation. Like a lot of eco businesses, it exists to profit from Global Warming regulations, rather than to sell a product on its own merits.

  • WeaponZero

    Obama does not subsidize Tesla. A president does not have that kind of power, all subsidy is given out by congress or at local level.

    Also, Tesla has made a gross profit on selling car even without ZEV credits.

    ZEV credits this quarter for Tesla has only been around 10 million. Next quarter the credits would probably be worthless.

    And no, people who buy other cars in california are not subsidizing Tesla. The cost comes out of the manufacturer’s profit. But overall most manufacturers do make make their own ZEV credits without buying them with maybe exception being Honda. But buying a Honda is not going to cost more with or without ZEV credits.

  • WeaponZero

    Obama does not subsidize Tesla. A president does not have that kind of power, all subsidy is given out by congress or at local level.

    Also, Tesla has made a gross profit on selling car even without ZEV credits.

    ZEV credits this quarter for Tesla has only been around 10 million. Next quarter the credits would probably be worthless.

    And no, people who buy other cars in california are not subsidizing Tesla. The cost comes out of the manufacturer’s profit. But overall most manufacturers do make make their own ZEV credits without buying them with maybe exception being Honda. But buying a Honda is not going to cost more with or without ZEV credits.

  • dupontlaw

    Why can’t we wave the
    flag on this one?,?!! we did what the
    germans japanese or anyone else
    could not do. Build an awesome eff’in
    Car with 0 to 60 in under 5.5 seconds
    No apologies no compromises its
    AmericN design its american made
    and its awesome! You can drag race this
    Thing for pennies And give the Saudis the
    middle finger, good old boy style!

  • EYEGUY

    I have to say, I absolutely love my Tesla!. Beautiful car that out competes the european sedans. Great to have a car built in America, by an AMERICAN company! Couldn’t be more American. And it really sticks it to the OPEC, many who use our dollars to support terror aimed at us.

    • Biff Henderson

      A paid toll pitching for Tesla. Are you the same spin-myster that was quoting monthly lease rates and cost per charge I ran into on another blog? Work it my friend. There’s always somebody willing to buy a bridge.

      • yesjb

        Grow up!
        And try using the few brain cells you have to actually think instead of spouting off some poorly-conceived cheap shots that say more about you than Tesla, and not in a good way!

      • 20pizzapies

        typical ignorant oil company brainwashed lackey . the future is electric cars , although you’re likely incapable, try to get in touch with REALITY .

        • Biff Henderson

          The caps are a nice touch. Really adds a punch. With Obumbler doing his best to shut down fossil fuel production when alternative energy generation has proven itself to be nothing other than a forced daydream let’s hope there’s enough power in the grid to meet the demand you’ve assured me is the future although in my opinion wishful thinking and “people like you” doing nothing short on blowing on the blades of wind turbines won’t touch that REALITY. I think I’m going to start using caps more often. Talk about bringing it home.

          • 20pizzapies

            You’re too easy Biff . Arguing with an ignoramus like yourself is an amusement . Try checking the actual statistics of oil production in the US for the past 6 years . Just spit it out and say you hate Obama rather than coming out with imbecilic remarks. The reality of science and technology are beyond your comprehension ,that much is obvious . Try getting out of the cave and away from FOX , you might actually learn something .

          • Biff Henderson

            Pie in the Sky,

            You’re wound too tight for your own good. You bandy about assumptions about people you’ve never met like a man-servant that held someone’s **** when they took a leak. Poor form.

            Oil isn’t the only game in town. The Carbon Credits scam and EPA’s systematic attack on coal-fired electrical generating plants is a reality (On second thought caps are for others as I don’t want you to leap to an assumption I was a theatre major). Obumbler crushing the Keystone pipeline deal is an attack on North American fossil fuel. The cost of transporting crude oil to America’s soil comes out of everyone’s pocket and we have no choice but to shell out for it under this administration. Given a choice I would favor a policy shift that leads us down a road to keep greenbacks in this hemisphere and not in the hands of the peddlers of the Death Cult. When Obumbler’s policy on whom he favors in the energy sector constricts players in the market darn tootin’ I have nothing but distain for that pernicious dirtbag. Take starting your own manufacturing business for a spin and maybe you would gain some insight for those that loath this creature. This is just one issue but don’t let that keep you from the assumption game.

  • Biff Henderson

    All Obama heard was it’s an IED and he said I’m in. He was disappointed when he watched the news to find out it stood for an Improvised Electric Device. Poor schlepp, Everybody is always leaving him out of the loop.

    • 20pizzapies

      what a typical remark from someone like you .

      • Biff Henderson

        I am devastated that you find “someone like you”‘s remarks are not to your liking. The wound is deep and your verbal onslaught will leave me scared in ways I can’t begin to imagine. Perhaps I should look into the internet bullying statues for redress.

        Regards,
        Biff
        (Victim under siege)

        • 20pizzapies

          don’t hurt yourself Biff . you deserve the status by way of the ignorance in your remarks .

          • Biff Henderson

            And it’s my hope you don’t strain your tongue when sticking it out to the ignorant masses you hold in contempt…

          • 20pizzapies

            LOLOL…a word salad man ! You must love Palin .

          • Biff Henderson

            Does all your discourse degenerate into flinging barbs or is the former a pretense for the latter?

          • 20pizzapies

            LOL…you’re hardly the injured party here , you get what you dish out …..read your own posts on this thread , hypocrite .

          • Biff Henderson

            Pie in the Sky,

            I have witnessed on many occasions shills for special interest groups flood the comments section to try to dominate the conversation and heap cleverly crafted hosannahs upon their cause. The stink of this kind of calculated manipulation rose to the fore. I made it known I thought this was afoot.

            Your style is to first insult and badger with no facts in hand to smooth the transition. You bandy about slights to smear people for its own sake, people you’ve never met yet you speak like a man-servant that held someone’s **** when they took a leak. Poor form.

            The well-deserved targeting of Big Oil isn’t the only game in town . The Carbon Credits scam and EPA’s systematic attack on coal-fired electrical generating plants is a reality (On second thought caps are for others as I don’t want you to leap to an assumption I was a theatre major).
            Obumbler crushing the Keystone pipeline deal is an attack on North American fossil fuel. The cost of transporting crude oil to America’s soil comes out of everyone’s pocket and we have no choice but to shell out for it under this
            administration. Given a choice I would favor a policy shift that leads us down a road to keep greenbacks in this hemisphere and not in the hands of the peddlers of the Death Cult. When Obumbler’s policy on whom he favors in the energy sector constricts players in the market darn tootin’ I have nothing but distain for that pernicious dirtbag. Take starting your own manufacturing
            business for a spin and maybe you would gain some insight for those that loath this creature. This is just one issue but don’t let that keep you from the assumption game.

          • 20pizzapies

            more word salad , a true Palin understudy . [equal in mentality ]

          • Biff Henderson

            A parrot in clown mode that resorts to repeating his limited repertoire of insults doesn’t get the yummy snack. Scrape for crumbs at the bottom of your cage.

          • 20pizzapies

            LOLOLOL…more word salad , you must be a Palin understudy .

  • Tim N

    A friend of mine has a Model S. It’s a fantastic piece of machinery. I was marveling at how well made it is and how well thought out everything on the car is. Yeah it’s costly- big deal, so were the first internal combustion cars.
    It’s easy to sit back and ankle bite, make snide remarks about “laptop batteries” and sneer. But here’s an electric car with good range, good acceleration and top notch handling. Give it a chance.
    The fact that it’s electric means basically that almost anything on the grid can power it: fossil fuels, nuclear, hydroelectric. If it’s not a perfect solution, if it doesn’t perfectly fit some ideology, it’s still pretty impressive.

    • Biff Henderson

      This is the comments section. Your ad copy is too neatly scripted to be taken seriously. Get up on the pole and sell your soul. Work it and jerk it till the sweat stings your eyes.

      • Tim N

        What was that for? I just commented. Is that okay? I have no stake. I don’t own one. I have no stake at all. I like the car and I find it interesting that’s all. Is it possible for someone to have a different opinion here… Geez.

        • Biff Henderson

          Crying wolf. That rich.

          • 20pizzapies

            born to be ignorant .you’ll go to your grave ignorant Biff .

          • Biff Henderson

            If my ignorance was subsidized by Obumbler could I dream one day to be a shiny, polished apple? Is there a stimulus package for that and does it have a working website? Tell me it’s true.

        • 12banjo

          I read your post an enjoyed it, and find it authentic. There are a lot of hopeful enthusiasts for electric cars, even some really conservative people who are just looking for options.

          Here’s my concern about Musk–he is very controlling of information and can leap like a clawing banshee on anyone who suggests anything might be wrong with the Tesla. That bears a little watching. All great innovators have a wide streak of narcissism, let’s just hope it’s not pathological.

          As for the claim that Musk is helping stall the space program in the US, it’s Obama who hates all things American, so he wrecked the space program all on his own. It’s on him. He didn’t like the space program, so he didn’t keep it. However, I do have some skepticism concerning Musk, who wants his own cool ride into space. When you get an ego like that, he really wouldn’t mind shutting down NASA if it would get him what he wants.

          • Tim N

            Thank you! I appreciate your reasoned and calm reply.

        • Biff Henderson

          My deepest apologies. You where merely blowing your horn about the statement vehicle your friend putters around in. Tell him I hope he enjoys the sucker’s lane.

          Future reference- You can get a great deal on laptop batteries at Amazon.

  • Honk

    Sigh. The only reason that Tesla is not showing a profit is the clunky old GAAP. They have a new financing model that does not fit into the mainstream accounting system. If this were compensated for then Tesla is showing a profit. And how is it that Obama “trashed the space program”? It was already adrift. SpaceX is doing truly revolutionary things that Big Government could never do. And so what if he is an Obama donor? He has also donated to Republicans. And, by the way, he works 80-100 hour weeks. Stop running down the genuinely successful, no matter what their politics.

    • WeaponZero

      The thing is, he is not really an Obama donor. He attended Obama’s dinner which was 35k and that is it (This was already AFTER the program was scheduled to shut down too). He spends way more money donating to republicans actually. Though most of his spending has been to neither party but to ballot provisions.

      Interesting enough, Musk is a libertarian.

  • Naworb McGee

    This article is pure horse $hit. I don’t even know where to begin…

  • ed

    This article is written to be anti electric car or anti Obama or anti Elon Musk.Pick one or all of them.I believe its worth mentioning that NOBODY HAS DIED in Tesla cars yet.Can that be said about any other car company?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Hard for anyone to die in a car hardly anyone has.

      • Can count

        Hmmm – you’re right, 19,000 cars produced in a little over a year. Hardly any of them on the road, which would explain why I see them on the road almost every single day.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          19,000 cars out of some 220 million in the country

          • 20pizzapies

            Hey Daniel , are you old enough to remember the birth of home computers , fax machines , vcrs , dvd’s ? they all started out cumbersome , problematic ,expensive and sparsely used . Daniel , are you so steeped in your political ideology not to be forward thinking or intuitive? I guess you haven’t noticed how well hybrids are selling nor how many are on the road .Hybrids are the harbingers of fully electric and alternate energy personal cars .When’s the last time you got out of the house and on a road trip Daniel ? Have you noticed that in the model lettering on thje back of the different makes of cars a little green lettering or insignia ? Yup …that means they’re hybrids already incorporating electric technology , Tesla has taken the first step in the inevitable nexus . Three Fires !!! OMIGOSH ! how many recalls have there been over the years for a wide assortment of dangerous failures in standard gas powered cars and truck ??
            You should learn NOT to be against something MERELY because Obama has shown support of it .

          • Daniel Greenfield

            I don’t recall everyone being forced to subsidize the VCR or the DVD

          • 20pizzapies

            The US Government has subsidized many industries and technologies over the years , do you recall anyone claiming that “we were forced ” ? US Corps of Army Engineers spend billions around the country , Nasa , Hubble Space Telescope , Moon Landers , Oil Industry Subsidies , Rocket Technology has been subsidized , Eisenhowers Interstate highway and bridge System , States are subsidized in roads and bridges ……do you have any complaints about being forced to subsidize those with your tax money ? TMT tax which every 18 wheeler owned by private companies pay to maintain roads are subsidies ….so whayt’s the big deal ? Elrectric/alternate energy private vehicles are a definite part of the future , why shouldn’t the Govt. subsidize improving the technology ? In addition there are literally thousands of government grants given to private individuals and companies to develop technologies which are an eventual benefit to all .
            My reference to vcrs and dvds was intended to show that all new technology has bugs and are eventually improved , so too electric cars .
            Would you rather the Japanese surpass us in this inevitable technology ?

          • Daniel Greenfield

            I have a complaint about political connections leading to forced subsidization of dead end companies

          • 20pizzapies

            then you must have a complaint about all previous past and present subsidies , since all bear the mark of some political connection , one way or the other . Tesla is by no means a dead end company . I’m sure there have been , and many over the years .Electric/alternate energy cars is not a dead end technology , but it is an inevitable technology and worth govt. subsidy and risk of some failure along the way . How many military -type projects have we subsidized the development of , only to scrap the whole idea after enormous cost over runs ? I’m sure you’d have no problem looking them up . Aircraft and ships that never flew or sailed yet we the taxpayers , paid the development costs and never even got an end product .All bear the mark of political connection .

          • UCSPanther

            You better pay back some of that money wasted on Solyandra…

          • 20pizzapies

            yea , and you better replace the lives that BP took [ about 150 ] and the livelihoods ruined [ thousands ] . Exxon STILL hasn’t paid for the cleanup in Alaska , and the BP blowout is still not yet fully known nor is that cleanup paid for …..but who’s paying their subsidies ????
            Ignorance is bliss huh USCPanther ?

      • 20pizzapies

        I would challenge that Daniel ,. there most certainly HAVE been deaths recorded in cars due to manufacturing defects .In fact , many over the years .

  • Sam

    Love my Model S P85. 0-60 in 4s, It’s a rocket. EVs are here to stay: stop fearing change. Electrics are clean, and advance our world. The ICE is dead: get over it.

    • UCSPanther

      Not likely. My 91 Corolla will keep going while Teslas are being chopped up, loaded into rail gondola cars and hauled to the smelter with all the other useless industrial equipment.

  • 20pizzapies

    like it or not , electric cars are in your future . aspersions and conspiracies regarding Tesla notwithstanding . -nor shills for big oil .

  • 20pizzapies

    we’ve already gave away the solar panel and wind generator business to foreign entities where WE should be leading the way . Instead we chose to be shills and lackeys for the oil companies .

    • UCSPanther

      The best use for a windmill is to be chopped up and scrapped like any other piece of useless industrial equipment.

      • 20pizzapies

        I’m sure [in your mind ] you believe that .Try checking out global statistics as well as National statistics on the use and efficacy of wind generated electricity .

        • UCSPanther

          I heard Britain did just that with a wind farm..

          I’m sure you don’t mind rolling blackouts and brownouts, complete with high electricity bills…

          • 20pizzapies

            here-educate yourself on windpower in the US, where the geography is quite different as is the prevailing winds .

            http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_installed_capacity.asp

          • UCSPanther

            Whatever snake oil you are selling, I’m not buying…

          • 20pizzapies

            Uh …. I can see where a minimal knowledge of geography and global wind patterns ,would be considered by you to be “snake oil “.
            And as you can plainly see , wind generated electricity in the S.W. and Central Plains of the U S is doubling every year , regardless of what you “are buying ” .
            p.s. -especially in Red States .

          • UCSPanther

            The copper windings from wind generators alone are worth a fortune in scrap…

          • 20pizzapies

            as are the windings of any motor . [poor argument there ]
            btw -motors are energy driven /engines are fuel driven . [in case you didn't know ]

          • UCSPanther

            Internal combustion engines have a good energy to rate ratio. That is why we have used them for over a century.

            Al Gore isn’t going to change that, and neither will any Solyandra or Fiskar money wasting marathons…

            You want to be a dishonest snake oil salesman, don’t expect me to go along with your con.

          • 20pizzapies

            Al Gore ? Ahhh another propaganda parrot eh ? I don’t expect anything from you , and I’m not surprised at your ignorance on the subject …most fossil fuel shills are , or should we call it purposed ignorance ?
            This has nothing to do with your #2 nemesis Al Gore and everthing to do with the energy penalty paid per megawatt for fossil fueled electric generation . But hey that’s science and math, and those subjects are witchcraft to the small minded .
            Con you ? Not at all , just hitting you over your thick skull with scientific facts and reality . But with minds like yours , those are no competition for political ideology …..I find it rather ironic however , that in the Red States where political views like yours are prevelant , the biggest investment and use of wind turbines is and has been taking place.. LOL…get out if your FOX cave and take a look around .

          • UCSPanther

            All you do here, is confess that you support Green Energy snake oil con artists.

            Nice try. I’ll keep my diesel generator and you can keep your dodgy solar panels and wind turbines.

            Just don’t ask me to lend you any kilowattage, because I won’t.

          • 20pizzapies

            I don’t ask you to do anything . I just rub your nose in the facts . You can drink your diesel for all I care .

          • UCSPanther

            And your facts are propaganda. Nice try shilling for Al Gore and other green energy snake oil salesmen.

          • 20pizzapies

            sorry dimbulb , but that which I posted are indeed FACTS . What you are spewing is PROPAGANDA . And it’s based in your own hateful political ideology . The repeating pattern around here is to reject science , reality , facts and technology , based in who you hate politically …..not very smart . But that’s par for the course with you …er….”conservatives ” . Windmills have been around long before Al Gore , and long before electricity and combustion engines , but to know that one would have to be minimally versed in history ….you are not . I doubt if your sum total knowledge of that goes beyond the formation of the tea party .
            “snake oil ” ?? yea , in your small mind I bet it’s all snake oil , everything that is, that doesn’t suck up to whatever big oil shoves down your throat . Thinking must be a painful thing for you .
            I have no sympathy for purposed ignorance and ideological denial , you do have my pity though .Wind is a great resource in the Southwestern US as well as on the Great Plains , and that obviously eludes the small -minded . Fortunately more intelligent minds than yours have already determined that , and are as we speak taking advantage of it , lololol…and in all the Red States which is where the technology is roughly doubling every year . And THAT is FACT .

          • UCSPanther

            Looks like I touched a nerve seeing how you are resorting to insults.

            Keep trying with your propaganda. It all means nothing to me, and you better pay back the money you took for all your green energy boondoggles.

          • 20pizzapies

            LOL…don’t get too full of yourself bunky , objective observation is not insult … consider yourself lucky …..lucky that ignorance is not a painfull thing .

          • UCSPanther

            I would take that as a threat, but you progressives don’t have the courage to face us head on.

            Cowards the whole lot of you…

            Your windmills and solar panels are all scrap-in-waiting…

          • 20pizzapies

            USCPanther , you seem to be woefully ignorant of wind turbine generated electricity in the US -

            With key federal tax credits due to expire at year-end 2012, US wind energy developers brought a total of 45 projects online with a total rated generating capacity of 3,095 megawatts (MW) in December. That amounts to more than double the amount of coal-fired generation capacity and some 34% more than natural gas-fired electricity generation capacity, according to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Energy’s Energy Infrastructure Update for December 2012.

            Statistics for the entire year are no less impressive. Nearly 10,700 MW of wind power capacity came online in 2012 as compared to 4,510 MW for coal and 8,746 MW of natural gas-fired capacity. In total, 40.5% of new US electricity generation capacity came from wind power installations as compared to 33.1% for natural gas. In other words, as Adam hinted in December would be the case, wind power was #1 for new US electricity production in 2012

            - learn your subject before raising arguments based on your opinions .

          • UCSPanther

            Keep going with your propaganda. You are not going to convince me to live with rolling blackouts and high electricity bills that your snake oil has caused.

            Your windmills are merely scrap metal that just needs to be processed and smelted, preferably into machinery we can actually use.

  • unionville

    After reading the comments on this thread I feel like I’ve stumbled into a Tesla showroom. Electric cars will never be our future as long as they are priced out of the reach of the average Joe on the street. And the ones that come close to being affordable look like deathtraps. Electric cars are the playground of the elite and others who like to feel smugly superior to those of us who still like our internal combustion engines.

  • J Sidney

    My next door neighbor brought one home an S85 about a month ago. I have to say, it’s awesome and I’m sold. I’m no Obama fan, but I’d have one if I could afford it. Maybe there is some political reason to boycott Mr. Musk’s company, and I completely disapprove of government subsidies (particularly emissions credits) but the car itself is phenomenal.

    • Tim N

      Agreed. I’m impressed with what they’ve accomplished. It’s a nice piece of engineering and entrepreneurship.
      Check out Lit motors C1 for another intriguing idea- that’s a an enclosed electric motorcycle with gyro stabilizer.
      Time will tell how these play out but I’m always interested in seeing some new ideas..