WASHINGTON, February 5, 2018: We’ve borrowed our headline today from a direct quote from Steve Wozniak. He’s the technical half of Apple’s founding dynamic duo back in the 1970s. Steve’s remarks, made to an audience attending “the Nordic Business Forum in Sweden on January 24,” were transformed into an interesting, insightful piece on Elon Musk, Tesla and Wozniak by Catherine Clifford and posted on CNBC’s website Thursday.
Wozniak – or “the Woz” as he’s known to longtime Apple aficionados – actually owns a pair of all-electric cars. Yet he finds he drives his Chevy Bolt EV far more than his Tesla vehicle. He thinks the Tesla is far sexier than the Bolt. But, save for lengthy cruises, he seems to prefer the more reliable Bolt. Said Wozniak to CNBC,
“We always drive the Chevy Bolt EV instead of the Tesla every day, except for long road trips.”
We’ve gone on record opposing the continuing government subsidies given by Washington to Musk and Tesla. We’re equally unhappy with the continuing taxpayer subsidies that almost inevitably go to wealthy, liberal, primarily California car buyers who shell out big bucks to buy their Teslas, the better to signal their green virtue merit badges for the edification of the peons. Unfortunately, we haven’t gained much traction with this observation.
Now, however, with a bonafide, Left Bank, Silicon Valley liberal chiming in, maybe some individuals and investors will start paying attention to the taxpayer money-sinks known as Elon Musk and Tesla (stock symbol: TSLA).
Once a fan of Musk and Tesla, the Woz has also soured on Musk, confiding to CNBC
“Now, I don’t believe anything Elon Musk or Tesla says.”
Granted, like most of the California movies stars and Silicon Valley tycoons who flash their shiny new Teslas around town, Wozniak seems oblivious to the economic argument against subsidizing Tesla, the rich liberal’s car of choice, with money from those who either don’t want or can’t afford one.
Steve’s disappointment with the Tesla – and with Musk – has more to do with the technical side of things, namely that Musk has a terrible track record of delivering what he promises to deliver.
Our problem with Musk is that every unredeemed promise, every setback, every miss on his wildly optimistic timetables, whether Teslas, solar power or returnable rockets are involved, guarantees more wasted taxpayer support for his pie-in-the-sky enterprises.
With Tesla’s shares continuing to be wildly overpriced in the market, we’re also wondering whether investors will at last begin to sour on a company that rarely if ever delivers on its promises, at least within promised time frames.
TSLA shares should be paying a heavy penalty now for these huge management failures. But aside from the occasional brief hit, they are not. Short sellers who would generally agree with my point of view have been gouged time and again every time Tesla nuts jump back in in droves to buy TSLA shares on every dip.
Some day this won’t work any more. But who knows when that will be? As a result, short-sellers are far less confident taking big chances than they used to be, allowing the stock to overprice itself time and time again.
For his part, Wozniak, who’s generally a genial, low key guy – a rarity among Silicon Valley’s wealthy predator class – actually still likes his Tesla, but might not buy another when the current vehicle runs its course.
Tesla is promising to update its current and future systems. But, according to CNBC,
“The eventual update, when it comes, may be too little too late for Musk to win back The Woz. Wozniak says he already prefers the Chevy Bolt with one exception: Long drives. Tesla has more battery charging stations, he says, making such journeys in the Chevy Bolt challenging.”
Tesla and its vaunted technologies have never been ready for prime time. The big question we all need to ask is this one: Why, as taxpayers, do we need to keep supporting fancy cars for the wealthy that don’t even deliver on their promises?
I actually look forward to continuing technological advances in all fields. But why do I have to pay for much of the R&D, when the fantastically wealthy, politically thuggish tycoons of Silicon Valley have more than enough money to pay for the R&D themselves? It’s a question that I think more American voters should be asking this fall.