Elon Musk writes that his company is trying to cheapen up the electric auto in a blog post for the Guardian today, but admits it won’t happen without early support from the wealthy.
“Automakers are now busy making EV and range-extended EV prototypes; the industry is racing to democratise EVs. We will get there, but only with help from affluent early adopters,” he writes.
This is a rather obvious point to make. Without the wealthy most interesting startups don’t exist. Someone with deep pockets almost always needs to back a startup. When it comes to producing a radical new technology it always starts off expensive. Without affluent early adopters, we might not have affordable big screen televisions. Yet people don’t get all in a snit over the idea of pricey electronics when they first come out, because they’re not asking for government assistance.
We bring this up because last week, Elon Musk called the Randall Stross, a New York Times reporter, a huge douchebag because Stross had the temerity to question whether the government ought to loan Tesla money to produce sports cars for rich people. As Stross wrote in his column, “[Musk’s] customers must be loaded with green in order to go green.”
The huge douchebag line makes for a great headline, but today’s two sentence rebuke buried at the bottom of a boring Guardian blog post is much more effective. Yes, Tesla haters, the Roadster is a car for the rich, but it’s just a starting point. For all the flaws with Tesla, and there are many, it’s the only company out there producing an electric car that people are driving around, even if they are rich people.
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