Tesla’s stock was down around $200 again after its fourth-quarter report disclosed that neither its sales nor profits had met analysts’ expectations. At the same time, the company went into what one analyst called its “insane mode” as founder Elon Musk predicted that by 2025 the company’s market capitalization would reach $700 billion, matching the current value of Apple.
Analysts were scratching their heads as Musk’s vision seemed utterly at odds with the difficulties that are starting to pile up with Tesla’s ability to meet current goals. The company’s 2014 revenues rose to $3.2 billion, up from $2 billion the year before. However, expenses continued to mount, and losses widened from $74 million to $294 million last year. For the fourth quarter, Tesla delivered only 9,834 of the 12,000 cars it had predicted. Musk blamed the winter weather and customers’ holiday travel for the shortfall. A bigger disappointment has been sales in China, where Tesla sold only 120 cars in January. Musk has supposedly messed up by insisting that the cars be sold only by dealers, whereas the Chinese want anyone to sell them. He also says that concerns about home chargers and the lack of public charging stations have made it extremely difficult to crack China’s notoriously tough market. Musk now says that the company is now not counting on any sales in China to help it reach its goals.
But those goals are wildly ambitious. Musk told analysts that Tesla is anticipating a 30 percent increase in revenues per year for the next 10 years, which is the pace needed to put Tesla’s market value on par with Apple’s. “That would imply sales volume of well over 5 million vehicles per year,” Edward Niedermeyer wrote in Bloomberg View. “That would have Tesla surpassing the 2014 sales of such familiar names as Nissan, Honda and Fiat-Chrysler – at highly significant profit margins – within a decade.” Needless to say, Niedermeyer and many others find this prospect unlikely.
But Tesla isn’t standing still. It announced last week that it will produce a battery for home electricity storage. This will fold nicely with its partnership with SunCity, run by Musk’s cousin. People who install solar panels on their roofs will welcome a battery system that allows them to store electricity for times when the sun doesn’t shine. Just as solar seems to function best when distributed across a wide variety of users, so energy storage may ultimately work best when it is distributed over a wide variety of users.
Whether Tesla will be able to survive all this, however, is still an open question. The main threat to Musk’s vision seems to be coming now, not from predictable delays and bumps in the road, but from healthy competition from experienced automakers. Chevrolet has announced the Bolt, a successor to the Volt, which will be swinging right in Tesla’s wheelhouse – the $30,000 market for electric vehicles that can travel 200 miles or more on one charge.
General Motors has moved the introduction date up to 2017 (the same as the Tesla 3) and seems deadly serious about entering the EV market. “The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” General Motors CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”
Besides the Bolt, GM will have an improved version of the Volt, plus the $75,000 Cadillac ELR, a plug-in model. Daniel Miller of Motley Fool isn’t terribly impressed with any of these efforts, noting that the ELR has already had little success competing with Tesla’s Model S in the luxury-car category. “Because of that premium, first-mover brand image that Tesla created with its Model S, it’s hard to imagine how the Bolt will steal much of Tesla’s Gen 3 market in 2017, even if it is price-competitive,” Miller writes.
But if Tesla really has something to worry about, it’s the rumors that Apple, its Silicon Valley rival and the world’s largest company, is preparing a secret plan to enter the car market as well. Just this week it was revealed that Apple has a secret project employing 1,000 people to come up with some kind of concept car that will rival the Tesla Model 3.
“Apple has batted around the idea of developing a car for years,” reported Adam Satariano and Tim Higgins of Bloomberg Business. “Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, said in 2012 court testimony that executives discussed building a car even before it released the iPhone in 2007. Mickey Drexler, an Apple board member and head of J Crew Group Inc., also said in 2012 that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had wanted to build a car.”
Apple has worked on batteries for the iPhone and iPad and also has a supply chain that could easily be applied to vehicles. “The mapping system it debuted in 2012 can be used for navigation. Last year, Apple also introduced CarPlay, a software system that integrates iTunes, mapping, messaging and other applications for use by automakers,” Satariano and Higgins wrote. Of course, that’s a long way from turning out thousands of vehicles, but Apple has invaded other businesses before. It basically knew nothing about the music business when it started on iTunes, and had no experience with telephones when it invented the smartphone.
In any case, even if Tesla finds itself in competition with much larger established companies – something Musk predicted at the start – it is revolutionizing the field of automobiles by making the electric car seem practical. Although Musk’s dream may prove to be overblown, he has certainly advanced the search for alternatives to the internal combustion engine.
We’re all watchers of the gas-station “flip sign” now.
They call it that — the flip sign — because it has replaceable plastic numbers, or electronic ones, that “flip” as the price fluctuates. For months the national average for a price of regular unleaded has been flipping in a downward direction, from $3.68 a gallon in June to $2.11 on Tuesday.
We keep track of such details because (relatively) cheap gas means more money stays in our pockets. Depending on where you live, how far you drive, and whether your chariot sips gas or guzzles it, you’re saving $50, $75, $100 a month that can be used for other purposes.
Low fuel prices are great for consumers, but we shouldn’t expect the windfall to last. American drivers deserve the cost certainty of permanently low prices, and the best way to achieve that is through fuel choice, so gasoline isn’t the only alternative when we fill up.
PUMP, narrated by Jason Bateman, played in theaters in more than 40 cities last fall, receiving favorable reviews from critics and high marks from audiences. Check out PUMPtheMovie.com to watch the trailer, view a photo gallery and read bios of the stars, including Elon Musk.
PUMP traces the century-long history of how gasoline, refined from crude oil, came to monopolize transportation in the United States. It shows how dependent we’ve always been on oil, to the detriment of the country’s economic well-being, national security, health and environment.
The solution is to diversify the U.S. fuels market by allowing other types of fuel to compete on an even footing with gasoline. Technological innovation has brought us cars that can run on multiple types of fuel, including ethanol and methanol (made from a variety of “feedstocks,” including plants, natural gas and landfill waste). Other vehicles are powered by compressed or liquefied natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells, and of course, lithium ion batteries.
The choices are practically endless, and yet the vast majority of drivers are stuck with only one choice: gasoline.
Creating the market conditions that will lead to a diversified fuels market will produce a variety of benefits, but for the moment let’s get back to the economic benefit. No one saw the oil-price drop coming, and experts have been consistently wrong every step of the way. But reasonable people have predicted that prices, inevitably, will rise again. We know this because it’s happened again and again in recent American history.
Fuel choice will ensure that you lock in your monthly savings for the long term, instead of enjoying only short-term relief.
If permanently cheap gas sounds like attractive, watch PUMP. The solutions are in there.
PUMP hit theaters around the country in September, and now it’s about to hit the digital landscape.
PUMP was a hit with the public and the critics: On Rotten Tomatoes, 85 percent of viewers said they liked the film, while 73 percent of critics gave favorable reviews.
You should do yourself a favor and read some of these reviews yourself, though: The critics who saw PUMP had very nuanced, well-thought-out views, giving the important issues raised in the film the proper weight.
Below are excerpts from some of the bigger media outlets that reviewed the film. Read all about it, then watch the film and tell us what you think!
” … the movie makes compelling points. More important, the film suggests both long-term and short-term solutions.
“… if consumers hate oil so much, why aren’t there more readily available alternatives?
The New York Times:
“… the arguments have an appealing logic for those concerned about the environment.
“… the movie goes beyond alarmism with solutions that on the surface would seem to find common ground between environmental advocacy and unfettered capitalism.”
The Hollywood Reporter:
“The historical overview they provide is insightful and lucid … The headline is that most cars on today’s roads could easily run on non-petroleum fuels that are cheaper, cleaner and more plentiful than gasoline. At the heart of the doc is ultra-practical information with the potential to galvanize a broad audience.
“Their thesis transcends red-state/blue-state polarities.
“The shift from quiet how-we-got-here outrage to hope, in the form of hands-on specifics, torques Pump and gives it momentum.
“… the eye-opener is that millions of American vehicles are already equipped to switch between gas and ethanol.
“Pump offers a map to true competition à la Brazil’s, and argues convincingly that there would be profound and wide-ranging benefits if American car owners were in the driver’s seat.”
The Los Angeles Times:
“Viewers of ’60 Minutes’ will experience déjà vu during vignettes on Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and Brazil’s exemplary national conversion to ethanol, but ‘Pump’ ventures a step further to explore the practicality of flex-fuel vehicles in this country and methanol as another fuel alternative.
“As far as documentaries go, the film is exhaustively researched, interviewed and documented. Its disclosure that General Motors declined multiple interview requests earns the film some credibility where other advocacy docs fall short. It arms advocates with plenty of well-reasoned and compelling talking points …”
“This zippily edited docu aims less to chastise than to emphasize that solutions to our oil addiction and much-vaunted desire for energy independence are tantalizingly close at hand.
“For unabashed agitprop, ‘Pump’ is quite entertaining, drawing together colorful archival footage, interviewed experts and ordinary folk, as well as sojourns to China (in the wake of its economic boom now the world’s largest market for cars) and Brazil (whose shift to ethanol production brought prosperous energy dependence), in a lively, professional package.”
“The most convincing testimony comes from John Hofmeister, a former president of Shell Oil who has switched sides. But the real stars of ‘Pump’ are the hackers and engineers who’ve devised cheap and easy ways to convert vehicles to flex-fuel capability.
“The inability of our capitalist economy to exploit this untapped market is puzzling until the filmmakers get to the part about the massive political donations made by Big Oil. Switching from gasoline to a cheaper, more environmentally friendly, domestically available fuel won’t address the other negative consequences of car culture — urban sprawl, traffic congestion, increased obesity — and neither does the film. But by pointing out simple things that could make huge differences, it’s a solid first step.”
“This is the second feature about ending America’s dependence on oil from the wife-husband team of Rebecca Harrell Tickell and Josh Tickell. They’re tub-thumpers, but not shrill. Their thrust is roughly that cars = freedom. Americans love their freedom, and they sure do love their cars. Yet strangely, car- and freedom-loving Americans lack freedom of choice when it comes to what their cars run on. What gives? Oil is far from the best fuel for an automobile—not even close, if you factor in extraction costs, energy security, and pollution.
“Determined not to dwell on the negative, Pump introduces us to hobbyists, entrepreneurs, and even indie service station owners already making the break from petroleum.”
“A car’s high beams trace slow-motion lightning across the highway. An auto worker in suspenders strides the factory floor. These seductive images of the American automotive industry act as dreamy parentheses to Josh and Rebecca Tickell’s compelling and cogent documentary Pump, which examines why Americans are so lacking in options at the gas station, what that means about the future of transportation and environmental health, and why the oil-driven American Dream must die — why it is dying.
“By carefully tracing the history of the oil companies’ legislative and consumer power and influence, the directors explore America’s issue of substance dependence, and indict the companies that act as enablers. If you’re not convinced we’re addicted, ask yourself if you could quit at any time.”
“A narrow focus helps “Pump” make its point clearly. The filmmakers don’t take on global warming or automobiles. Their solution is simple and straightforward: introduce competition at the gas station and let the invisible hand do the rest.
“Demand for alternatives, including electric vehicles from Elon Musk’s Tesla, is … growing alongside a crude backlash. On Monday, for example, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, an $860 million philanthropic organization that owes its existence to the Standard Oil fortune, said it would divest from fossil fuels. The collective effect of all these efforts, including the message from ‘Pump,’ may just help fuel a trend.”
The Source magazine:
” ‘Pump’ makes clear one thing: oil is used in everything, from clothing to furniture, plastics to medicine and, yes, even engines to power cars. And increased demand leads to, you guessed, higher prices. ‘Pump’ explores this in a holistic, appreciative and thoughtful way.
‘Pump’ explores a range of alternative fuels including ethanol, methanol, natural gas among others, but never suggests humanity stop driving cars altogether. It would be a major technological step backward, damaging decades of effort. Instead, ‘Pump’ offers reasonable, grassroots-style progress that enables anyone to make a sustainable change.”
“One thing was made clear to me, we have a right to choose how we fuel our cars and that right is not being acknowledged by the government or big oil companies, which means the responsibility for change lays solely on us.
“The unpredictable cost of fuel, coupled with the damaging effects to our environment and our dependency to over-seas oil rigs is a scary future that we find ourselves looking at today. We are forced into limited choices at the pump, which only creates a stronger foreign dependency and a wealthier fuel monopoly. The message Pump presents, once you get past the numbers game, is simple: American made replacement fuels will equal more jobs, a healthier environment, and a stimulated, growing economy.”
John Brackett is one of the stars of the Fuel Freedom-produced documentary PUMP, but he’s more than just a pretty mutton-chopped face.
Brackett specializes in tinkering with gasoline-powered engines — any kind, including vehicles and generators — to make them run on multiple types of fuel. But he’s also on a mission to educate the general public, as well as regulators. Converting one’s car to run on alternative fuels is technically not legal, as is using any fuel not specifically listed in the owner’s manual.
But once the public finds out that replacement fuels like ethanol, methanol and natural gas are not only cheaper but burn cleaner than gasoline, they’ll demand them in the marketplace. And they’ll want to learn how to convert their own cars. As Fuelverine says in PUMP: “That’s the best part about being an American: We don’t like it, we’ll change it.”
Fuel Freedom: Why aren’t all the vehicles rolling off the assembly lines labeled as flex-fuel?
John Brackett: The only reason they were ever flex-fuel in the first place was CAFÉ standards (Corporate Average Fleet Economy). And basically what they said is that, ‘Hey, your 6 miles per gallon Tahoe, since it only burns 15 percent gasoline [running on E85], is a 66 mpg vehicle!’ So your overall average for your fleet went up, and that’s why we only have flex-fuel in the giant V-8s and the V-6s. They very rarely went into the four-cylinders, and when they did, they canceled the model within 1-2 years, or even worse, they made it so you could only buy it if you were a commercial or rental fleet company. The [Chevy] Malibu is my favorite example: They made flex-fuel in 2010 for ’em, but it was only for the commercial or the rental fleets, and you couldn’t buy that four-cylinder from your local dealer. So there was never any incentive for them to actually make it mass-produced, they’re just doing it to hit the CAFÉ credits.
FF: Is it a case of companies only doing something because they have a financial incentive to?
JB: Exactly. I’m not usually a mandate-type person, but the Open Fuel Standard is the right type of mandate to allow competition right now. We just don’t have any options.
FF: What are you most interested in right now?
JB: My main thrust is actually making any engine run off of any fuel. I’ve built generators, I’ve gotten cars running on fuels, I’ve done hydrogen, ethane, methane, propane, butane, ethanol, methanol and gasoline. So my personal interest is being able to tell the computer what to change to run off those other fuels. What blew my mind was that the GM cars, and from what we’re told from several tuners, all the Ford cars since 2005, already have the algorithm in there. They literally turned it off. It’s in there.
FF: Is it possible for a car running on ethanol to get better mileage than gasoline?
JB: Basically, E85 has about 25 to 27 percent less energy in the same volume. So when you drive on the fuel, you would expect to lose that much gas mileage. What we found was that if you were driving on the stock flex-fuel from GM, you lost 25 to 30 percent, exactly what you would expect. When I started doing my tuning, and I would change the spark timing just a little bit – I varied it very small, and I did a lot of runs –and when I treated the fuel as gasoline or with slight advancement in timing, we only lost 5 to 15 percent of our fuel mileage.
Let’s go to what GM has already done: GM has a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, turbocharged engine out for the Buick Regal. That engine makes 5 to 15 percent more power on E85 than regular gasoline, while still getting the same fuel mileage. They have obviously tuned that car, so they have no problems doing it. Now, if we go to what is called direct-injection engines, which are definitely in the future … you can get even more efficiency out of it. You get another 15 to 20 percent efficiency increase by going to direct injection.
FF: If you look at prices of E85 around the country, there’s a big disparity [for example, it’s $2.09 in Iowa and $2.59 in Arizona, according to E85prices.com]. What will it take to get more consistency?
JB: If you have a bad original flex-fuel tune from a factory, you’re going to lose 30-40 percent [in mileage compared with gasoline]. Nobody wants to do that when it’s only 10 to 20 percent cheaper fuel. That’s one of the big reasons we try to use methanol as a big one, because it is so much cheaper, especially on a dollar-per-mile basis. But the ethanol fight, we just need more cars that have it as an option. Until we have that, you’re not going to have that market saturation. So if you think about where the cars are vs. the market, the numbers don’t add up. And that’s why we need every car to have the option to run a flex-fuel — on gasoline or ethanol or methanol, or any combination of them in the same tank.
FF: A constant refrain among the anti-ethanol crowd is that it damages engines.
JB: The biggest thing I like to tell people is, if you start with the first cars: They were all flex-fuel. They stopped being flex-fuel because of Prohibition. We have the materials, we know how to do this, we’ve been doing this for 30 years. Every car made since 2001 or ’02 has E10-compliant components. All the fuel lines, everything. And if you look at the corrosive nature of ethanol, it happens most between E10 and E30, so it’s actually very small blends of ethanol that cause the worst corrosion. But all the cars should already come to the factory with parts that work for it. There shouldn’t be any problem with it.
FF: Tell me about this conversion kit you’re using, by Flex Fuel U.S.
JB: They have the only E85-approved conversion system right now in the United States. What is different about their unit is it plugs into the oxygen sensor, so it reads the exact feedback from the oxygen system. So if it is lean [too much oxygen and not enough fuel], it should adjust. It plugs in line with the injectors as well, the difference being it doesn’t increase the injector pulse for the stock injectors; they add a whole new injector somewhere in the intake system, and flood the system that way. So they’re actually adding additional injectors to it. I’ve talked to the guy several times. Basically, he has to sell the kits for $1,100 to $1,500 right now, because it cost him $4 million to go through the EPA certification process. And that was only for 8 to 10 models. It’s absolutely ridiculous, the hindrance to competition. But he could easily, at mass scale, sell these for $300 to $500.
… We are now at the point where EPA is stopping us from getting clean air. They’re just making things more expensive.
(Photo: John Brackett dropping some knowledge to the assembled in Times Square, September 2014.)
Sure, you could spend your hard-earned money on just about anything on this Cyber Monday.
But while you’re busy pointing and clicking and helping the U.S. economy, don’t miss the chance to be among the first shoppers to pre-order the Fuel Freedom-produced documentary PUMP. It’s available for presale on iTunes.
Go to this link to learn more: http://bit.ly/1yyMEMD
The cost is $9.99 for standard definition, or $12.99 for high-def. By pre-ordering, you’ll be first in line when the film is released digitally on Jan. 13, 2015.
PUMP, directed by Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, and narrated by Jason Bateman, tells the story of America’s addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly. The film combines fascinating historical context with inspiring, practical lessons from today. The film explains clearly and simply how we can end our oil dependence, and finally win choice at the pump.
- keep fuel costs low for consumers, insulating them from inevitable price shocks
- strengthen the U.S. economy by keeping more of our fuel dollars here at home
- create millions of jobs thanks to higher demand for homegrown fuels
- improve air quality, bringing down incidence of asthma and heart disease
- cut carbon emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere
Visit PumpTheMovie.com to watch the trailer; learn more about the making of the film; meet some of its stars (including Tesla founder Elon Musk and former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister); and read the favorable reviews PUMP received upon its release in theaters in September. Spend a few minutes on the site and you’ll see just how crucial this issue is for Americans.
Pre-order PUMP on iTunes today!
(Photo above: Auto engineer John Brackett shows in PUMP how to optimize a gasoline-powered vehicle to run other types of fuel, including cleaner-burning, higher-octane ethanol and methanol. Credit: Submarine Deluxe)
Elon Musk doesn’t mind making comparisons between himself and Henry Ford. Others are doing it as well.
In announcing his plans for a “Gigafactory” to manufacture batteries for a fleet of 500,000 Teslas, Musk said it would be like Ford opening his famous River Rouge plant, the move that signaled the birth of mass production.
The founder of PayPal and current titular leader of Silicon Valley (now that Steve Jobs is gone), Musk is not one for small measures. The factory he is now dangling before four western states would produce more lithium-ion batteries than are now being produced in the entire world. And that’s not all. He’s designing his new operation to mesh with another cutting-edge, non-fossil-fuel energy technology – solar storage. His partner will be SolarCity (where Musk sits on the board), run by his cousin Lyndon Rive. Together they are looking beyond mere automobile propulsion and are envisioning a world where all this solar and wind energy stuff comes true.
So, is Musk a modern-day Prometheus, bringing the fire to propel an entirely new transportation system? Or, as many critics charge, is he just conning investors onto a leaky vessel that is eventually going to crash upon the shores of reality? As the saying goes, we report, you decide.
One investor that is already showing some qualms is Panasonic, which already supplies Tesla with all its batteries and would presumably help the company fill the gap between the $2 billion it just raised from a convertible-bond offering and the $5 billion needed to build the plant. “Our approach is to make investments step by step,” Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo last week. “Elon plans to produce more affordable models besides [the] Model S, and I understand his thinking and would like to cooperate as much as we can. But the investment risk is definitely larger.” Of course, this is Japan, where “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” Corporate executives are not known for sticking their necks out.
Another possible investor is Apple, which has mountains of cash and, at least under Steve Jobs, was always willing to jump into some new field – music, cell phones – to try to set it straight. This is a little more ambitious than the Lisa or the iPod and Jobs is no longer around to steer the ship, but Apple and Musk officials held a meeting last spring that stirred a lot of talk about a possible merger. A much more likely scenario, according to several commentators, is that Apple would become a major player in the Gigafactory.
And a Gigafactory it will be. Consider this. The three largest battery factories in the country right now are:
1) The LG Chem factory in Holland, Mich. is 600,000 square feet, employs 125 people and produces 1 gigawatt hour (GWH) of battery output per year.
2) The Nissan factory in Smyrna, Tenn. is a 475,000 square-foot facility with 300 employees puts out 4.8 GWH per year.
3) A123 Systems’ battery factory in Livonia, Mich. is 291,000 square feet, employs 400 people and produces 0.6 GWH per year.
Both LG and Nissan received stimulus grants from the Department of Energy, built to overcapacity and are now operating part-time.
Now here’s what Musk is proposing. His Gigafactory would cover 10 million square feet, employ 6,500 people and produce 35 GWH per year of battery power. Basically, Musk’s operation is going to be ten times better anything ever built before, at a time that most of what exists isn’t even running fulltime. Does that sound like something of Henry-Ford proportions? Similar to Ford’s $5 a day wages, perhaps?
There are, of course, people who think all of this is crazy. In the Wall Street Journal blog, “Will Tesla’s $5 Billion Gigafactory Make a Battery Nobody Else Wants?,” columnist Mike Ramsey expresses skepticism over whether Tesla’s strategy of using larger numbers of smaller lithium-ion is the right approach. “Every other carmaker is using far fewer, much larger batteries,” he wrote. “Tesla’s methodology – incorrectly derided in its early days as simply using laptop batteries — has allowed it to get consumer electronics prices for batteries while companies like General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. work to drive down costs without the full benefits of scale. Despite this ability to lower costs, no other company is following Tesla’s lead. Indeed, in speaking with numerous battery experts at the International Battery Seminar and Exhibit in Ft. Lauderdale a few weeks ago, they said that the larger cells would eventually prove to be as cost effective, and have better safety and durability. This offers a reason why other automakers haven’t gone down the same path.
But Musk has managed to produce a car that has a range of 200 miles, while the Leaf has a range of 85 miles and the Chevy Spark barely makes 82. Musk must be doing something right. And with Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico all vying to be the site of the Gigafactory, it’s more than likely that the winning state will be kicking in something as well. So, the factory seems likely to get built, even on the scheduled 2017 rollout that Tesla has projected.
At that point, Musk will have the capacity to produce batteries to go in 500,000 editions of the Tesla Model E, which he says will sell for $35,000. Sales of the $100,000 Model S were 22,000 last year. Does this guy think big or what?
To date, Silicon Valley doesn’t have a terribly good record on energy projects. Since Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers fell under Al Gore’s spell in 2006, its earnings have been virtually flat and the firm is now edging away from solar and wind investments. Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla’s spotty record in renewables was also the subject of a recent 60 Minutes segment. But, as venture capitalists say, it only takes one big success to make up for all the failures.
Will Tesla’s Model E be the revolutionary technology that, at last, starts making a dent in oil’s grip on the transportation sector? At least one investor has faith. “I’d rather leave all my money to Elon Musk that give it to charity,” was the recent evaluation of multi-billionaire Google founder Larry Page.