Elon Musk, CEO Of 'Loser' Tesla, Suggests Romney Got It Wrong

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Motor Trend 'Car of the Year' ceremony in New York City, Nov 2012

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Motor Trend 'Car of the Year' ceremony in New York City, Nov 2012

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One week ago today, Americans elected a president.

During the hard-fought campaign that preceded the election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney called Tesla a "loser" company, along with Fisker Automotive.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] and other companies named by Romney had received loans or grants from the U.S. government.

Last night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made his first comment on the affair, at a ceremony in which the 2012 Tesla Model S received Motor Trend's Car of the Year award.

Musk contrasted the Model S, the winner of the award, to the "loser" remark made during the campaign--by parsing the comment grammatically.

Mr. Romney, he suggested, had gotten "the object, but not the subject" of the remark right.

A standing-room-only crowd of Tesla owners and depositors laughed and cheered his comment.

More seriously, Musk noted, Tesla Motors was proud to have created 3,500 U.S. jobs--at its Fremont, California, assembly plant and elsewhere.

He suggested that the re-election of Barack Obama as president was a good sign for the future of plug-in electric cars in the U.S.

"I think that we can expect at least that things will continue as they have," Musk told the audience.

"I wouldn't expect it to get any worse for electric vehicles," he continued. "Hopefully, it will get a little better."

1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012

1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012

Enlarge Photo

Tesla Motors is focused on ramping up production of the Model S sedan, continuing design of the upcoming Model X crossover, and starting to plan its next generation of more affordable electric cars.


The company's sales will ultimately be split in thirds, Musk predicted: one third each to North American, Europe, and Asia.

He added that the Tesla Supercharger network of fast-charging stations, which only work with the Model S and other Tesla cars, will expand to cover the Boston-to-Washington corridor "next month"--and would be rolled out nationwide within a year.

Musk's comments were the first time that Tesla Motors had responded in any way to the Romney remark.

At the time Romney called the company a loser during an early October presidential debate, spokeswoman Christina Ra said Tesla had no comment.


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Comments (32)
  1. I hope that the awards Tesla receives for the Model S will have some effect on those who criticized them for political purposes during this years presidential fight to the finish.

  2. Poor Elon Musk. Even receiving a car of the year award earns him a headline with the word "loser" in it. Time will tell, but wall to wall rave reviews, assorted awards and the expedient roll out of the supercharger network should all help to make the Model S the decisive winner it needs to be to help Tesla to survive and prosper.

  3. If you're interested, you can see video of the event here: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/entry.php/36-Video-Tesla-Model-S-is-Motor-Trend-s-Car-or-the-Year

  4. No doubt Romney was wrong to lump Tesla in with Solyndra and Fisker. The Tesla car is a winner and shows great promise if the company can deliver.

  5. Electric cars are not losers, Romney is.

  6. Not sure why Tesla winning one of the most prestigious awards in the automotive industry isn't the title/lead story on this website!?
    I thought this was supposed to be "Green Car reports"?

  7. Agreed, this negative angle doesn't seem to do justice to what Tesla has accomplished. OTOH from a professional reporting viewpoint I guess good news isn't really news and throwing in a bit of scandal is good for traffic.

  8. @Chris: In this case, many other outlets beat GCR to the punch with the award news--including Motor Trend which truly blitzed the Internet last night with it. If we duplicated that angle, the story would be buried and no one would see it aside from regular readers.

    Instead, I hadn't seen any coverage of Musk's clever remark, so I made that the angle. As a result, more readers are seeing the story--including the news of the award--than otherwise would have.

    Hope that helps explain the story angle we chose.

  9. @ John Voelcker, I kinda figured you needed a unique angle to set yourself apart from the pack and in itself that's perfectly alright of course. Too bad the result fits a pattern of you picking rather negative angles to report on Tesla. Maybe you figure that makes for more interesting stories, but on a green car blog you will of course elicit the odd indignant response from people who actually believe in companies like Tesla.

  10. Elon's response to Romney is definitely newsworthy, and I'm not buying Chris O's negative slant argument. Though, Slate beat you to the punch.


  11. Wait! So, govenment support helped a company win Car of the Year? That's impossible! Everyone knows government support only works when it goes to Oil Companies. (/snark/ tag for those lacking a sense of humor in this election season)

  12. Yes, the govenment should NEVER pick winners and losers, except for the Nuclear Power Industry, of course. Where would they be without those sweet, sweet govenment liability limits? And if anything goes wrong, I can always rely on my homeowners policy, right? Right? (note to self-check homeowners policy...oh oh)

  13. Gee, I wonder electric vehicles would have fared in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy? No power no car. At least you can store gasoline in case of emergencies but storing electrical power for indefinite periods I have my doubts.

    I don't have a problem with electric vehicles, I do have a problem with the government giving these companies subsidies in order to create something. Now this may not be the case with Tesla, but it is with other "green" technologies. They can't stand on their own or come to market on their own but require continue "stimulus from some external source, i.e. government entity. Ford did it on their own, Toyota did it on their own.

    I would just like my freedom back. The government needs to get out of the way!

  14. @Troy: For the record, Ford Motor Company has received fully 2/3 of the total DoE low-interest loans awarded to date. And those funds have gone toward building more fuel-efficient gasoline engines.

    Ford got $5.9 billion, which is more than twice the combined total awarded to Nissan, Tesla, and Fisker. See here:

    As for plug-in cars during emergencies, the recent gas shortages in NJ and NY indicate that gas cars may fare no better. Also, this site has extensively covered the use of electric cars for providing portable power after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year. Cuts both ways.

  15. John, it is well known that facts have a liberal bias. You're going to have to do better than merely quote a long list of "facts". It is also noted that you totally ignored his lack of freedom.

  16. @Norm: I'm going to assume this was written tongue in cheek. It certainly made my day. Facts, such pesky things!

  17. I wouldn't say it precisely cuts both ways. If I have two sources of energy in my Volt when nothing else is running incident free, except for the solar panels, as was experienced during Sandy...That has to be better than relying on a stale-fire-hazard of a can of old gas, or waiting in a long line for the few gas stations that have working pumps, while their power is out.

  18. Troy, you certainly have the freedom to pay the full cost of gasoline. For your entire driving life you have been paying the full cost. Why not? Do you prefer to let soldiers die in Iraq so you can have cheap gas? The pollution you produce, combined with that of 250 million other ICE vehicles contributes to the death of tens of thousands of your fellow Americans, yet you pay nothing for this. Is that fair in your world? It's not fair in my world.

    Please let us know why you think you should get such a huge subsidy for your gasoline.

  19. Good point - hmmm - I guess that means we cut the $50 billion+ a year subsides payed directly to the oil companies too - right? Strangely no one seems to mind that one.

  20. ironic, isn't it?

    Now that Romney is in the "loser" group, will he change his mind? He is known to "change his mind" quickly...

  21. Poor poor Elon. I like him but to tell you the truth Mitt was right. If you take away the grant money and the Dept. of Energy loans, Tesla is nowhere. To be honest given the nearly $1 billion dollars Elon has raised so far 1900 units produced doesn't really cut it. That works out to about $500K per car. Again I like Elon but to call anyone else a loser is silly. Every business Elon is involved with would be a complete loser without government money. He has become the new model of success under Obama's admin.

  22. So, the millons that Mercedez and Toyota gave to Tesla really didn't matter either?

    So, those Mercedez B class and Toyota E-Rav aren't really Tesla designs and production?

    So, when you actually "lose" an election, you can't be called "losers"?

    Last time I looked, Wall Street gave Tesla a lot of money for its IPO.

  23. @Brad - if your comment is evidence of how much you like Elon, I'm not sure he would be all that thrilled. It's my personal policy to never feed a concern troll but you've created the dictionary definition - I couldn't resist.

  24. @Brad: First, what grants did Tesla get? I know of $465 million in DoE low-interest loans, but not of any grants. Please describe.

    Second, you can't allocate total capitalization over 1,900 Model Ses built. (There are also 2,500 Roadsters on top of that, BTW.) By that reasoning, the first one cost $1 billion, the second cost $500 million, the fourth cost $250 million, and so on. You have to allocate over total planned production--unless you assume the company will shut down before it builds car # 1901.

    I'm not saying Tesla is guaranteed to be a viable business entity--no entrepreneur has successfully started a car company from scratch since 1924--but sketchy math doesn't help your case.

  25. The world only creates a few Elion Musk's in the world every few decades and he has done more in 30 years then Mitt could ever has done more in 60years.Mitt is an opportunist while Elion is an Inventor.Who is the loser now

  26. Tesla is not financially viable as a company. Musk is spending everyone else's money and lots of it. If you take the time to look at Form 10-Q filing, you will see Tesla is totally out of control spending. They are no where near break even, not in the next quarter, probably not ever. Musk had to sell $200M more stock to stay 85M cash flow positive. Every investor got diluted. His long term debt grew $200M and he is now hiding further losses in his growing inventory. Granted the Model S is impressing writers, but electric cars are best when new, let's see as the miles and the years accumulate. Right now Tesla is giving cars away at $100k a pop.
    That spells loser company to me. Romney views from a long term investor and from there -LOSER

  27. Oh wow - if you are right, this is a SUPER investment opportunity - so you're one of those investors that's totally SHORTED Tesla stock, right? I mean, ignore the fact that Tesla Model S has received three Car of the Year awards; what does having a killer product have to do with success? And since Tesla is a car company, we should judge their finances exactly like Ford or Toyota. It's probably a good thing you know how to spell LOSER; if you shorted Tesla, that information could come in very handy.

  28. "Tesla is not financially viable as a company." Quoted from Richard Marks.

    Tesla has orders, with deposits of from $5000 and up, for 12,500 of the Model S sedans. Tesla has a factory and staff in place to build the Model S sedan and continues to take new orders. Tesla is getting a ton of free new publicity from from just now receiving car, technology and invention of the year awards from six major publications.

    Your task Mr. Marks, is to use your level head, broad knowledge and keen observations to design a successful business model (and viable company) from the resources noted above.

    Even sour grapes shouldn't make this difficult for a man of your abilities!

  29. The very definition of conservatism is to down play any new ideas or innovations. I am politically an independent and in the medical professions and I admire Elon's courage to attempt to bring an electric vehicle to market. I doubt if many of Tesla's customers are rightwing pundits or even if Romney is half as conservative as he claimed he was in the primaries. One thing is true we are now in peak oil and both China and India are buying more and more automobiles and soon demand for oil will exceed what can be produced no matter how hard we are looking for it and drilling for it.(Peak Oil) I for one am looking for technology rather than wars to solve the energy crisis. And the Tesla Model S is one great looking solution to ICE automobiles

  30. Hopefully Tesla will soon expand and cover also the
    Gibraltar-to-Wladiwostok Corridor.
    What a blessing for the blue planet.
    Wilhelm Herbi

  31. By most accounts, the Tesla Model S is certainly a winner. However, I think the jury is still out on the company's status. It's my understanding they have yet to go cash flow positive let alone make a profit. It would appear they are on a trajectory to get there, but they are not there yet.

  32. how many times did airplanes fall from the sky before they got it figured out. This vehicle is just the start of a wonderful new form of transportation.

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