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Tesla Model S Factory Tour in Fremont, CA

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.

I Rented a Tesla Model S for $25/hr From Getaround. This Was My Experience.

On The Best of Sett

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:

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