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Conspiracy Theory? by Leilani Münter, Race car driver, environmental activist.

Well, it's a theory. I mean, there's not a scintilla of evidence that Big Oil or the Evil Established Car Companies are resorting to nefarious means to harm Telsa, but I suppose it's fun to write, entertaining to read, and bonds us all together against a perceived common enemy or something.

The reporting on the fires: oh, do spare me! The car had just been declared the safest car in the world, and Tesla hadn't been shy about this. In fact they proclaimed it quite loudly. So when three closely-spaced fires occur, what did you think would happen?

Anyone here old enough to remember the Audi "unintended acceleration" contretemps of the 1980s? There was never any indication that it was anything other than dumb goobers pressing the accelerator when they meant to press the brake, but it only took a couple of sobbing people describing how they punched little Johhny through the garage wall even though they were pressing the brake pedal as HARD AS THEY COULD while the evil Audi ran away from them.

This is why all modern automatic transmission cars require you to press the brake before shifting out of park. The "controversy" came very close to destroying Audi as a company, mainly because for a couple of months you couldn't pick up a paper or watch a TV news show without reading or hearing about it.

As for the auto dealer's associations trying to keep Tesla from selling cars in various states: oh, c'mon...this has nothing to do with Big Oil and everything to do with a government-granted monopoly defending its existence. They couldn't care less if Tesla was selling cars or lawn mowers, and all the resistance would vanish immediately if Tesla established a franchised dealer network.

Looking under rocks can be fun, I suppose, but really, some people get way too involved in it. Especially when there's nothing under the rock.

Yes, I vaguely remember the Audi crisis. To my recollection there were more than one incident at highway speeds, not just the garage type Drams refers to. The explanation that seemed sensible to me was that the cruise control had, well, lost control and gave full throttle complete with kick-down and horror.

But I'm not going back to check now. Hesitate to even go Huff-po.

Cars are complicated things.

I think I'm in love.

Great article Leilani!!

@ Lessmog: In the 80s, cars were a lot simpler. No technical reason was ever found for the Audi "unintended acceleration", except that the gas and brake pedals were located somewhat closer together than they were on American cars at the time. There were incidents at highway speeds, but any car's brakes will overpower its engine (try it. Even the Mod S!), and no brake problem was found, so people's assertions that they were "pressing the brake as hard as they could" were obviously wrong.

Not to beat this into the ground or anything; the point is that news outlets will flog sensational stories regardless of the evidence; you needn't invoke Dark Conspiracies by the Established Powers to explain it.

Besides, look at the differences: Audi was almost driven out of business. Tesla, on the other hand, it still selling all the cars it can make and the time it takes to get one is increasing.


What exactly written in the article is wrong. The only thing she left out was that Tesla is also upsetting the advertising model for car makers.

For and GM spent nearly 10 Billion dollars advertising their product lines.

Tesla has spent 0.

The press has their own incentives to make themselves indispensable.

I actually don't know why Big Oil and the other car manufacturers would get so anxious as the EV revolution is still a way off and anyway ICE-age cars will still around for another 20-25 years just because that's how long they will last unless they actively get 'banned' (that would be a seriously contentious move - maybe in city centres first). Cars are not PCs or Cell phones which change annually and are 'disposable'....

This gives BO and CMs time to do a slow change around to another business model by which time oil may be getting scarce anyway (or not - but it can then be used for the other stuff - plastics etc) - ironically being 'forced' to change now may actually save them in the long run.....!

Interesting to see how main stream car makers will 'sell' EVs without seriously affecting their own ICE-market. If they trumpet the advantages then they harm their ICE cars but if they don't promote EVs then what's the point?

Nissan has just offered the Leaf here in South Africa (despite there being NO EV infrastructure yet) but are advertising it as '100% ELECTRIC" like it is a fridge or something - duh?!Suppose they can hardly sing its virtues over ICE!

The Nissan CEO here was going on about how the government/authorities/municipalities et al should be investing in EV infrastructure - WHY them? Why not the energy providers; Nissan itself; garage chains; malls; supermarkets etc.

Interestingly our car market here is dominated by a few big companies that deal in a multitude of makes so how they get involved will be fascinating to say the least....

If little start-up Tesla can set up SCs in USA and Europe then why not the big 'uns?

At least anyone affording a Leaf here is likely to have a garage and easy home charging for day to day 100 mile driving. And a touring range of 100miles and then a stop-over at a hotel/friend with a long extension lead and 10 hrs recharge time! Distances in SA are big like USA/Aus.

+1 Dramsey.

"...other powers at work here" = short sellers!

Of course, it is the straw they have to cling to to save their short positions. And they succeeded so far. I am sure there is more is to come. Any Tesla Model S in any kind of trouble, will cause focus and the attention of paid media = lame media.

@Tam +1
Thanks for sharing. I see nothing in leilani-munter's article that is off base. I share her views and think the battle between ICE and EV's is most definitely on!

"I actually don't know why Big Oil and the other car manufacturers would get so anxious as the EV revolution is still a way off and anyway ICE-age cars will still around for another 20-25 years"

With a small caveat: the inverse Tesla effect.

The future is priced into stocks. More exact: the generally accepted version of the future. As soon as the public considers oil & ice technology to be in decline, they will withdraw their investments and stocks will tumble. That may happen sooner than people realise.

@samosam: +1

Commercial TV too, obviously.

You people who are defending the oil companies are too naive. I would fire the oil company CEO's if they are not doing everything they could to stop anything that could erode their market and profit. The CEO's certainly know their jobs are on the line the moment they stopped making profits too.

Nicely put, Leilani. It's about time the hypocrisy about the press coverage was pointed out, not to mention the anti-free market forces that are fighting a homegrown American product.

@ SamoSam:

What exactly written in the article is wrong.

She is implying that the negative press coverage of Tesla, and resistance to their no-dealer sales model, is due to nefarious doings by an alliance of Big Oil and the existing ICE car companies, who feel that their business model is threatened by Tesla's very existence (which it may well be).

I'm saying that she has no evidence for this, and point out the similar hysterical coverage has been given to problems faced by other car companies in the past.

And dealer associations are hardly unique in wanting to protect their anti-competitive business model. Think "teacher's unions and charter schools", for example.


How are you so sure there is 'nothing under the rock'?

Sure, Audi analogy is there to make, but this is different. Tesla DOES threaten the oil and NADA people. Seeing how popular it's getting, it's conceivable they are a bit nervous and would try to do everything to squash the bug before it becomes a monster. (In their minds)

Just calling a blank parallel between what was hysteria and what's happening now is not very prudent.


"And dealer associations are hardly unique in wanting to protect their anti-competitive business model. Think "teacher's unions and charter schools", for example."

But not oil companies. Is that what you're saying? Talk about hypocrisy.

Thanks to Leilani for her excellent perspective. I think we should be very watchful of these conspiracies and not ignore them. The oil and refining industries are under serious threat.

Already, as a result of the recent economic recession, changing demographics and higher fuel economy cars, refineries need to reduce production. The recent take off of plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles is a serious threat to the bottom line. Oil refineries are expensive and even small adjustments to future earnings can devastate their profitability.

You said "there's not a scintilla of evidence that Big Oil or the Evil Established Car Companies are resorting to nefarious means to harm Telsa".
The implication of that statement is that you, at the very least, have thoroughly searched for the evidence, and found none. Is this true?
The link between Big Oil and anti-Climate Change coverage is well documented.

carlk and others - stop jumping to conclusions. No Dramsey didn't say that oil companies don't do things to protect their market position. Of course they do, all companies do.

All he is saying is that there is no evidence that there is anything happening here other than journalists doing their job - ie writing sensationalistic stories to sell their paper/web site/blog.

Are YOU saying that some journalists took bribes from people to write their articles? What's the actual mechanism this conspiracy is using? Would love to know.

@bb0tin +1
Well said!


You are incorrect. U.S. refiners do not and are not reducing production. They are exporting large and growing volumes of refined products because the U.S. has huge structural advantages over almost every country due to fracking (lower cost of oil, lower cost of nat gas used in the refining process). It's also why their profits have been growing and their stocks rising. Finished petroleum product exports are up nearly 400% since 2005.

See for yourself: Go to

Check the TOTAL and FINISHED PETROLEUM PRODUCTS boxes, then click on GRAPH.

Many here may not like fracking but it's probably the single largest booster of the economy at $50-$100 billion/year-and certainly the largest that doesn't need subsidies and pays billions INTO the government rather than taking money out from it.

Fracking is one good answer to economic woes?

I don't think we have to look too far to see self interest at work in this thread. Most of us will do a lot to maintain our opinion, regardless of scientific evidence to the contrary - the tobacco industry anyone?


My self interest is this country. I have no ties to the oil industry.

The huge drop in nat gas prices from fracking (U.S. prices are 1/3 to 1/6 that of Japan, Europe or China) benefits:

1. Everyone who uses nat gas to heat their homes (that includes the poor) is saving money.
2. Enviromentalists: cheap nat gas has displaced coal that fuels power plants, lowering pollution and co2 emissions to 1994 levels.
3. Everyone and environmentalists: cheap nat gas is displacing heating oil which is more expensive, dirtier and not 100% domestic.
4. Everyone who doesn't like Putin's Russia: future exports of nat gas will finally end Russia's extortion of Europe for supplies of nat gas. It'll create U.S. jobs at the expense of OPEC jobs. What's not to like?
5. I'll end here with the vast drop in oil imports and huge increases in U.S. jobs (well paying, many blue collar) to support fracking.

I am an unabashed and enthusiastic supporter of Tesla, EVs (I'm a Volt owner) and fracking. These are not incompatible. For the past and future few years, fracking has been amazingly, beneficially transformative-and I expect Tesla to far exceed what fracking has accomplished in the future.

I'd rather go the hard way of renewable energy instead of taking the heroin, sorry fracking, shot. Its may not take monetary subside but we are subsidize it with the future well being of our planet.

If fracking was cleaner, I'd support it.

Here's my conspiracy theory:

Nissan has sold 100,000 EV's or 5 times the amount of EV's as Tesla. By end of 2015 there will be over 1,000,000 affordable EV's globally on road. Tesla will have sold zero, zilch, nada of those 1 million affordable vehicles. In spite of these staggering statistics, Tesla is universally promoted by the Media as the leader in EV's.

Goldman Sachs has made over $100 million through its investment in Tesla and as it's lead underwriter. In fact, in the last offering of Tesla stock, Goldman Sachs provided a personal loan to Elon Musk to purchase more stock in the company enabling the stock to "pop" and creating wealth for GS, Elon Musk, and other billionaire VC investors on the Board of Tesla.

Tesla has a $18 billion market cap and has never turned an annual profit, yet Wall Street remains almost universally bullish on the company as Wall Street expects to line their pockets through further stock offerings (aka big stock offering to fund a giga factory).

In spite of its utter lack of leadership in developing an affordable EV, Tesla has become an "EV leaderrship story" in the media allowing the Wall Street conspiracy to make money. The retail investor will ultimately left holding the bag.


Please short TSLA. please.

I'm from bumf@#k Switzerland and have no clue who Leilani is, but she definitely wrote the best piece about the fires and all since they occured. Quite an ambassador. +1

Hehe... Thank you Google... I must have come across like.. well, a total moron. Chapeau to the Lady!

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