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Initial review from Jason Calacanis - Sig #1

From Jason's Launch Ticker:

My mini review (in progress): I have seen a reaction like this before: when someone handed you a CD and then put Pink Floyd's the wall in a huge CD player in 1986, or when someone let you hold their iphone for the first time in 2007.
That's how people react when they're in the Tesla Model S. it's mind blowing.
[ Disclosure: Elon and I are friends. We both invested in each other's companies five or six years ago--long before I owned a Tesla. Our kids go to birthday parties together, we have dinner sometimes and we live near each other in Los Angeles. I'm far from objective as he's a close friend and I admire him deeply as a entrepreneur. Since Steve Jobs died I consider Elon the top entrepreneur on the planet--hands down. So, this review is objective about the car--but I'm biased since I know the man. Note: I had a small amount of Tesla stock (10k shares), and I sold them after they doubled. After driving the Model S I'm thinking of buying more. ]
Yesterday I got series #000000001. The first car available to the public. How did I get this car? It's a long story, but basically I sent a $50,000 deposit to Tesla *before* they started accepting deposits. I begged them to cash it. They did, and as Tesla Roadster owner 16 I was able to get the top slot (they gave the first 100 Roadster folks first shot at the Model S).
The huge center display in the car is so far beyond what you expect from a car it's confounding. I opened a Google Doc of the LAUNCH Ticker and watched folks editing it in real time. Then I had my iPhone's cover art in the dashboard HUD (the drivers), along with 1st person directions--all while having what feels like two ipads on top of each other in landscape in the center console.
You can maximize and flip windows better than on your iPad. I wish my iPad had the dual window function--and I'm certain Apple will steal the concept. It's that natural and obvious when you see it. Two windows, one iPad: go!
The acceleration is terrifying.
Literally. If you're a passenger not expecting it you're going to scream like you're on a roller coaster. Being in a sedan your brain expects to coast--which the S does well--but if the driver feels like laughing they can secretly push the pedal to the floor and silently the car pins passengers to their seats before they know what happened.
Then as the world starts to blur like you're in the Millenium Falcon, you're doing 50, 60, 70 or 90 in 3, 4, 5 and 6 seconds (I have the performance model). All with no sign of stopping.
The acceleration simply doesn't stop. SNM ('Someone not me') took it from 0 to 100 and almost stained the seats getting while getting on the freeway. Again, SNM.
You feel like you're going to hit 88 and go back In time when the flux capacitor kicks in. It's bizarre. It's otherworldly.
Then there are dozens of details you discover. The Frunk, which can fit your overnight bags. The center console, which can also fit an overnight bag. Each of four wheel wells that, you guessed it, can each hold an overnight bag.
Oh yeah, there is a huge trunk that can hold two kids in jump seats or a dozen more overnight bags. With no engine, unlike a normal car, there is a lot more room. It's an SUV in a sedan's clothing.
The storage is absurd.
Oh yeah, there are cute little crew ports hidden on the roof under tiny flippable covers for bike racks and ski racks--and who knows what else Tesla will dream up.
This is the future delivered early, and it sets a standard that will keep the CEOs of Toyota and Mercedes up at night. Perhaps that's why they invested $100M each in the company two years ago. They understood they simply can't catch this comet--so they might as well grab a piece.
This car will sell wildly beyond expectations like the iPhone and iPad did, and if Musk can make a $30K version it will become the Apple of cars.
best @jason (After 24 hours)

I guess Jason has disappeared and flown to heaven!

It's a great review. However, I find the comparison Tesla Motors to Apple is insulting to Teslar Motors. Apple basically just improved existing technology and made it accessible to a lot more users. Apple didn't invent the computer, the touchscreen, the UI, just improved them. In contrast, Tesla Motors created new amazingly high performance electric drivetrain, get put a lot of energy into the battery pack and deliver the power and torque that no one said possible. This is a real engineering feast. Apple = improvement of existing technology to make devices easier to use. Tesla Motors = inventing new technology that is clean, more powerful and more pleasant to use than existing technology. Apple should only be credited with clever marketing tactics and not with engineering. Tesla Motors developed technology and engineering and is a real inventor. Comparing Tesla Motors to Apple Computer is insulting to Tesla Motors, I believe.

lol modelsboy....good one!

@modelsboy

I am a huge fan of Tesla and appreciate what they are doing, but lets keep it real; the comparison to Apple is a fair one.

Websters-
"Invention: a device, contrivance, or process originated after study and experiment"

You are correct that Apple has not invented anything new, but have only improved on existing technology. In other words, they have innovated. What their ability to innovate has done, however, is to revolutionize several markets.
This is exactly what Tesla is on the cusp of doing. Electric cars have been around for 100 years. Nothing new here. Tesla is improving on the packaging of this technology in a way that could change the automotive industry forever!

Apple - most innovative and valuable company in history. Nothing insulting about that comparison.

Chas,

I agree. Apple's value-adds are: build quality (every time I have priced other equipment, once you put the same quality parts in the price is the same or more as Apple's), software (look and feel), infrastructure (Apple B&M and online stores), and user environment (the interoperability between the Apple products).

Tesla's value-adds are really the same: build quality (okay, the jury is still out on this one but if half the rhetoric happens that will be a pass or better and signs are that build quality is improving--gaps between the body panels appear to be the main area of concern), software (look and feel), infrastructure (Tesla stores, service centres, rangers, and online support), and user environment (another area where there isn't the experience to determine pass or fail. I expect over the first two years at least there will be frequent updates to add features that time didn't permit for the initial cars).

+1 Chas and jerry3.

I do believe that the AC induction motor was in fact invented by Nikola Tesla. The batteries are made by Panasonic. I doubt Telsa makes their own inverter.

What makes a great product is not the invention of new technologies (well sometimes it is) but recognizing when the right combination of new and emerging technologies create the right combination of attributes to disrupt the existing marketplace.

Apple did not make the first mp3 player, but combined the small form factor hard drives that were about to come out with a good user interface. The rest is history.

What Tesla has done is combine existing technologies in a clever way to make them effective as disruptive to the market. I strongly suspect without pressure from Tesla there would be no electric vehicles available on the market in 2012 or 2013.

Leofingal,

Tesla makes their own motor. I've never heard one way or the other about the inverter but to have it match up I suspect they make the inverter as well--or at least assemble the components.

The battery cells are made by Panasonic. The battery is made by Tesla.

I agree that Telsa is leading the market and other companies are reluctantly having to hedge their bets.

"Apple has not invented anything new." Tell that to Samsung, they can ask for their billion dollars back...

Application and software patents are out of control in my opinion (as the holder of several of my own!). Application patents are for the idea of combining different ideas to create something "new". IMHO this has gotten just a bit out of control over the last 15 years (did you know that lots of people have patented the FFT? - well at least using one for a special case...). It is easy to understand that someone might think using an FFT to calculate the frequency of a signal is somewhat obvious, and certainly it should be to someone "skilled in the arts", but there are many cases of this out there. Combine several public arena technologies, usually thoroughly published, and voila you have a patent!

My colleagues and I were recently discussing this, and for the most part, patents have become obsolete based on the rapid rate of change in technology.

I suspect that if patents went away, companies would use trade secrets, and get that head-start. Is the idea of a touchscreen taking multiple touch points really novel, or is it really just an obvious extension of technology enabled by the underlying touchscreen technology?

And don't get me going on Trade Dress... Are softened corners on icons really something you can sue someone over?

Anyhow, this isn't isolated to Apple, it seems like all corporations have become patent trolls of late, and the result is that everyone patents every possible feature they can think of just in case someone uses that idea and they can pounce.

The only people that really benefit from this crap are the lawyers that are paid to run the patents through the system, and go after other companies.

I strongly believe that all this patent trolling will start to piss off Apples potential customers, and they will lose way more than $1B in market opportunities by tarnishing their reputation as a pioneer, and instead being the big bad corporation that everyone likes to see fail.

It's hard for me to watch these lawsuits and say, wow, Apple sure is using their resources to make the world a better place with better technology interaction!

I stand corrected.

Apple's patents would constitute inventions I suppose. The combination of various components/technologies in a way that provides a unique and original experience would align with "process" in Websters definition.

The point is still the same: Tesla and Apple are doing the same thing.

Leofingal,

I agree. The main thing that patents do is keep the big guys big and the little guys little. Generally, the big players have acquired enough patents that a patent war results in mutual annihilation but if the big players decide that the little guy is getting to be they just shut him down.

However, I'm not really happy about Samsung selling knock-offs. The average person (who's not a techie) can't tell the difference between the two (other than the user experience should they get to try both). I have a friend who's non-technical and a couple of month ago he told me that he received an iPhone from the company he works for. He also complained about some problems. When I actually saw the device I told him that wasn't an iPhone but just a knock-off. He was surprised to learn that the iPhone was only from Apple. I suspect there are a lot of people like that out there.

Wow, I'm actually a bit surprised that they couldn't tell the difference, but I am a techie. Are you sure they weren't just falling into the "Kleenex" for tissue trap?

Anyhow, it seems like the i-phone is capping out. The only major change on the 4S was Siri, which it seems not so many people like. I just saw an article comparing it to the Microsoft paperclip lol.

The next big change will be a really big change I think, where the handset goes away altogether (at least from a user interface standpoint). We'll see what company gets that first.

Leofingal -- Are you sure they weren't just falling into the "Kleenex" for tissue trap

Yes, my friend was actually surprised to find out that it wasn't an iPhone.

-- Anyhow, it seems like the i-phone is capping out

The bean counters have taken over. It will take another visionary to move to the next level. I don't think that there are any of those at either Apple or Samsung, and certainly none at that other company.

You mean something like this? I don't think they've totally given up on it yet:

http://www.gizmag.com/go/2434/

Probably not the best solution if you're a cerumen hypersecretor ;)

@ChasF Apple's patents would constitute inventions I suppose.

I don't think any of those patents that were in question in Samsung vs Apple constitute as inventions. Patents there were made to prevent anybody else using same kind of ideas in their products, most of those were so obvious that nobody else than Apple just thought they should be patented. Like that multiple touch point touch screen. That's not Apple invention, but they have patent for it.

Real criminal in Samsung vs Apple patent issues was the patent office that gave patents to those things and whole patent system. I agree with Leofingal that "Application and software patents are out of control". Someone just recently tried to patent winking smiley ";-)" here.

"99" -> "1999"
"00" -> "2000"

Was patented as well.

-- I agree with Leofingal that "Application and software patents are out of control".

I think everyone agrees with that statement, Timo. Originally patents were meant to protect the little inventor but that didn't last long. But it's not a new problem. Look at the number of barbed wire fence patents issued in the mid-1800s--over 500 of them. Another example is that Hollywood was started because the independent film producers wanted freedom from Edison's patents.

Actually, patents were intended to prevent "trade secrets". Their theoretical purpose is to make ideas and devices widely available (after a minimal reasonable delay) by making the patent sufficiently specific that anyone "skilled in the (relevant) arts" can reproduce it. Part of the reason for requiring submission of actual prototypes.

Those wanting to truly remain exclusive for as long as possible often thus don't patent, just rely on secrecy. Reverse engineering is their enemy.

Often, it's just "time" for an invention. The car, phone, radio, etc. were multiply invented. Bell, Marconi, etc. just won "footraces" to the patent office.

TM's PEM may be genuinely new.

As i understand it, the PEM is manufactured in Taiwan. I saw this in writing somewhere a long time ago, but really have no idea where, however it was on an official Tesla site.

That could have been case for Roadster, but I don't think it is the case with Model S, at least it would feel weird for them to outsource that part.

there is no separate "PEM" in the Model S the power electronics inverter is packaged with the motor and placed in the rear axle

Beside the motor.

OTOH all the actual electronics in that PEM are probably made outside of the Tesla, at least chips needed for the job. It can be a bit like battery pack, parts come from outside, assembly is made by Tesla.

JASON;
So, what'a the 1st ~3 weeks been like? Bored yet? ;)

Brian H

Tesla. Not Marconi. Radio...

Tiebreaker. Next your going to tell us that Thomas Edison didn't invent the light bulb?

Tesla was trying to transmit AC power without wires. Tesla built a SPARK-GAP generator. Marconi studied Tesla's old papers and built a SPARK-GAP generator and used it to transmit signals. Marconi did not invent the radio, he merely adapted Tesla's SPARK-GAP generator to transmit signals.

Tesla was first awarded a patent for the invention of the radio, then the patent was inexplicably given to Marconi, then in 1943 (afrer Tesla's death) reverted back to Tesla. A nice article:
http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/ll_whoradio.html

@petero, first light bulb was made by Humphry Davy some 50 years before Edison. There are actually quite a few people before Edison inventing and experimenting light bulbs. However Edison was the first to produce a long lasting one. I think the main reason why Edison is considered as light bulb inventor is that he invented (and patented) the screw in the bulb that we are using even now.

Yep, Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the telephone first either. It was invented by Antonio Meucci from whom Bell took the idea. Full story here-> http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jun/17/humanities.internationaleduc...

Is anything I learnt in School (still) accurate? :-)
Alastair


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