Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Scam; Are EVs Really Better?

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Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing if electric cars really better for the environment; 2 reasons why buying a Tesla with bitcoin is a bad idea; feedback from “Elon Musk is a con artist: Tesla’s full self-driving scam revisited.”

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Are Electric Cars Really Better for the Environment?

1) An interesting analysis in the WSJ: Are Electric Cars Really Better for the Environment? Excerpt:

Carmakers including General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG are retooling their companies to make electric vehicles on the premise that their battery-powered motors are cleaner than gas-burning engines.

Are EVs really better for the environment, though? A close look at all the factors shows they are—but it’s a complex answer with some asterisks.

The environmental cost of a car includes both building it and fueling it. That means factoring in emissions associated with oil drilling and power plant smokestacks, as well as from mining metals such as nickel and cobalt that are needed for electric-car batteries.

Why Buying A Tesla With Bitcoin Is A Bad Idea

2) Pretty smart of Tesla: 2 reasons why buying a Tesla with bitcoin is a bad idea. Excerpt:

…in the event that a consumer decides to return its Tesla bought with bitcoin, Tesla reserves the right to pay the consumer back in cash worth the original purchase price, not bitcoin, if the cryptocurrency has jumped in value since the original transaction.

Alternatively, Tesla reserves the right to pay the consumer back in the original amount of bitcoin paid if the cryptocurrency has fallen in value since the original transaction. On top of that, if a consumer overpays in bitcoin, Tesla reserves the right to not return the over payment to the consumer.

A friend comments:

Tesla doesn’t want Bitcoin.  It wants dollars.  People can “pay” with Bitcoin, but Tesla would have them converted to dollars immediately.

In the case of any refund, of course Tesla would have to be held just as harmless as any transaction fluctuations at the time of the original purchase.

This ought to be obvious because Tesla does not price its cars in Bitcoin.  It prices its cars in dollars!  If Tesla wanted to get paid in Bitcoin, it would state the price measured in Bitcoin.  It doesn’t.  It has no intention of holding those Bitcoins that it would get from a sale.

The buyer is better off to convert the Bitcoins to dollars first -- by himself.  Then pay in dollars, which is what Tesla wants or needs.  After all, Tesla doesn’t turn around and pays its workers and suppliers. They too want to get paid in dollars, not Bitcoin.

Interestingly, to the extent that it matters, someone who wants to buy a Tesla with Bitcoin would trigger a taxable event (assuming that person doesn’t live in Puerto Rico, which is the only place a US citizen can live and pay 0% capital gains tax in exchange for a $15,000 a year flat fee plus jumping through some other bureaucratic hoops).

Then again, the same capital gains trigger would apply also if the Tesla buyer paid in the form of liquidating some other form of investment -- stocks, bonds, commodities, etc.

Bottom line: Publicity stunt, with “heads you win, tails I lose” downside for the Tesla buyer.  But as we have seen with “Full Self Driving”, Tesla owners do seem to love handing over lots of money to Tesla in exchange for nothing.

Tesla's Full Self-Driving Scam Revisited

3) My last email with this video (Elon Musk Is A Con Artist: Tesla's Full Self-Driving Scam Revisited) generated a lot of responses. Here are four (I’ve removed the last guy from my list – I have no tolerance for this type of language):

  • There’s nothing in this video that hadn’t been pointed out before.  It’s been so obvious all along.

The only material contributing piece of evidence the video missed was the October 19, 2016, press conference in which Elon Musk claimed Level 5 for the first time in association with saying that’s why you should buy a Tesla now.  That was almost five years ago: http://www.xautoworld.com/tesla/transcript-elon-musk-autopilot-2-conference-call.


Elon Musk: Basic news is that all cars exiting the factory have hardware necessary for Level 5 Autonomy so that’s in terms of Cameras, Compute Power, it’s in every car we make on the order 2,000 cars a week are shipping now with Level 5 literally meaning hardware capable of full self-driving for driver-less capability.

  • I watched the entire video. I am not seeing a scam at all. Clearly this is a massive undertaking by Tesla. I watched several hours of video with James Douma explaining Tesla FSD. Astounding the potential it will serve transportation and it is getting closer. I know you are familiar with Tony Seba your TAAS ideas would have roots to his writings I believe. Maybe the regulators are not reigning him in is because he is on the right track and the chances of implementation are close. You should try to interview him, I think both of you have shared goals. Not likely to see him on a mountain top. But more likely to see you on Mars.

My reply: There’s a judgement call about whether the word “scam” is appropriate, but saying you have Level 5 (or will have it within months) when you have Level 2 qualifies in my book.

  • Consider the advice my dad gave me - can't take the heat get out of the kitchen (I left out an expletive).  Maybe you should try writing about Ford and Chevy's EV's.
  • You at an asshole. Disappointing slf riteous manipulator. How can you spew your crap with out any data? MST be what to are us d to as a used car sales jerk. Why are you still breathing the same air? LOSER!