This weekend, Telsa held an exclusive Model X preview for reservation holders. As the CEO of a mobile startup, I have mad respect for Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla. Here's a guy who, after starting and selling PayPal, started not one, but two companies with prescient timing: Tesla and SpaceX. As gas heads towards $5/gallon (with the imminent threat of shooting up higher) and the US retires its Space Shuttle program, Elon's two startups are positioned perfectly. For more background on Tesla, take a look at the blog post I wrote after touring the Tesla Factory.
Critics are raving over the Model X. As someone who's passionate about cars & motorcycles and hopeful for the future of electric vehicles that perform as well or better than their fossil fuel burning brethern, I was originally a reservation holder for the Model S. When I saw the Model X, I immediately swapped my reservation out. Now I'm #486 on the list for a Model X. You can get a reservation of your own here -- it's a $5k refundable deposit. Your only risk, really, is that Tesla doesn't stay viable as a company, but as someone in the tech industry, I really believe in Elon, his vision, and his ability to execute. I'm willing to take that risk.
My main reason for switching to the Model X from the Model S is the additional space (7 easily accessible forward-facing seats) and four wheel electric drive. The Falcon Wing doors give the vehicle a great unique feel, although I have no idea how practical they'll be with daily use. I also figure that by the time Tesla delivers the Model X in 2014, it will have gotten most "version 1.0" kinks out of the system with the Model S.
It was funny to see a temporary Philz Coffee stand set up at the Tesla event. I had just recently interviewed Philz Coffee CEO Jacob Jaber about how he was extending his brand. Seeing Philz at Tesla was a perfect example of two great brands I love promoting each other.
Below are some photos and videos of the Tesla event I attended today. What do you think about the Model X? I'd love to get your thoughts in the comments below.
Yeah I know the page is full of non-optimized, huge images. If you made it down here to the comments section, congratulations!
Sue and I took a tour of the Tesla Model S factory in Fremont, CA today. This is the old NUMMI plant. If you haven't heard the NUMMI story between GM & Toyota, and you're a car buff, there's a This American Life episode about it that's just mind blowing. The net of it is that GM tried to learn Just In Time assembly practices from Toyota, they built a factory together for Toyota to transfer this know-how to GM, and GM completely blew it. The factory shut down and was sitting idle after that fiasco.
When Elon Musk was looking for a place to build his new Model S sedan, he approached Toyota with a $50MM bid for it, which Toyota accepted. Why would Toyota sell a car production plant arguably worth $1 billion or more for $50MM? For the answer to that, you really have to understand the relationship between Musk and Toyota, which is well portrayed in this 2010 WIRED magazine article.
As a reservation holder for the Model S, I'm proud to support one of the most amazing entrepreneurs of our generation. What makes Elon even more amazing is that he's not only revolutionizing the automobile industry, but the space industry as well, with SpaceX... at the same time. Elon, my hat is off to you.
Below are a number of pictures and vidoes of the factory and the event, which was very well done.
Getaround is a car sharing service like Zipcar, except that it uses people's private vehicles instead of a fleet. It's a bit like AirBnB for cars. Getaround is part of the "collaborative consumption" movement, which believes that if we could share things we don't use most of the time it would be better for us in a lot of ways. Sharing cars means less cars on the road, which means less pollution, and generally less "stuff."
I'd never used Getaround and a few weeks ago I was trying to figure out why. I pinged Jessica, one of the founders, and told her that what I'd realized was that I didn't want to have to go to someone's house and "borrow" their car. The thought of actually interacting with the owner of a car was awkward enough that it had kept me from trying the service.
Jessica told me about a new type of rental they now have called "Instant," where I can use the Getaround mobile app to rent a car instantly and unlock it with my phone, meaning I wouldn't have to meet the owner or wait for approval. (This dovetails really well into my recent blogs about the power of mobile and apps to transform businesses, and how Fortune 1000 CEOs are going to get fired for missing it.) Getaround Instant was exactly what I was looking for, so my brother-in-law Dal and I decided to give it a try.
I had a few hiccups that Getaround is still working through (for example, Getaround verifies a driver's driving history with the DMV in real-time, and since my last name has a hyphen in it, but the DMV doesn't account for hyphens, my rental request initially broke Getaround's booking system. But both Jessica and Matt were very proactive at resolving these speed bumps). Overall the process was incredibly smooth: