Elon Musk makes appearance on David Letterman to promote the Tesla Roadster and Model S Sedan

Friday, May 01, 2009

Elon Musk is doing a great job at PR for Tesla, making an appearance on David Letterman yesterday:

As a comedian I don't find Letterman to be all that funny but at least the serious interviews he conducts are quite good. He has laryngitis today so that's why he sounds so weird. The only part that was really annoying was the lame joke at the end that cut Musk off in mid-sentence as he was about to make an important point. I think the point he was going to make was about how the price is actually $57,000 or so but a rebate from the government is what brings it below $50,000...but for all we know he could have been trying to make a completely different point. Perhaps he'll blog about it later and mention the point he was trying to make there.

Besides that however Letterman was spot on in the interview (except for one point I'll mention below), especially about how anything besides electricity really is a distraction right now. Hydrogen needs a completely new infrastructure to get going, while electricity is already here, and Norway's Think is already manufacturing a car that sells for about $20,000, with a real range and top speed of just over 100 kph. I'm also looking forward to their next car called the Ox, but it's still unknown when they'll be able to start manufacturing those.

The point where Letterman wasn't correct was about the Chevrolet Volt - its range is a tiny 65 km or so, but after this happens a small gas-powered generator kicks in to keep the car going. As Wikipedia says:

The electrical power from the generator is sent to either the electric motor or the batteries, depending on the state of charge (SOC) of the battery pack and the power demanded at the wheels. The distribution is controlled by the electronic control unit (ECU) of the vehicle. This effectively extends the Volt's potential range to as much as 1,030 km on a single tank of fuel (which could be potentially extended for longer trips through conventional refueling).
That's actually not too bad an idea though I'd still prefer something like the Think City. The Chevrolet Volt looks like a real car though which is a plus. I think car makers have finally all clued in that just because a car runs on electricity doesn't mean that it has to look like some weird Jetsons-style aerodynamic monster that is actually quite embarrassing to drive. Nobody (okay, almost nobody) wants that kind of attention all the time just for driving a car.


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