The gas car staggered backwards. Unaware that he had been shot through the heart. All throughout the world, at that moment, people were happily unaware. They were posting pictures of Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s: Not knowing gas cars were mortally wounded. Even the cars themselves didn’t know. Like the bad guy in an old Western movie who doesn’t know he’s been shot. A gun is fired, time freezes, the bad guy suspects something’s wrong. He looks down, sees a gaping wound , the Good the Bad and the Ugly theme song comes on and he collapses. The end.
Gas cars are dead my friend. Hydrogen is dead: Dangerous, flammable things in your car are a thing of the past. But, unlike our protagonist, they will die a slow death. The bullet was the Tesla Model 3 but the “good” cowboy wasn’t Elon Musk. It was you. The consumer.
You killed the gasoline car. You killed the gas car and you are also responsible for the previous killing of the electric car. You and your wallet. It wasn’t he oil industry, not the “petro-politicians” in the pockets of oil companies, not General Motors, The Oil Industry, not money, not the illuminati, or the Rockefeller’s or the CIA. You, the consumer killed it: Because it you were smart enough to know it wasn’t ready. Truth be told: It was a mercy killing.
WHY WHY WHY DID YOU DO IT? The petrol car was a good man. An honest companion. He took you from A to B for years without complaint. He was a true friend. But his time came to an end. Of course fake heroes like the GM EV1 appeared on the horizon back as far as 1999 but you recognised them for the frauds they were. And didn’t buy them.
How did you know? How did you recognize an imposter? Well, like the gun slinger, you watched him from a distance. He could only go 100 miles without food or water. And he looked weak. And he looked uncool. Very uncool. So you only bought 1,100 worldwide. But oh how times change. And things that looked ridiculous suddenly are cool. Like the Model 3. Right now its sheet hot cool. And this is not a one off. This is the beginning of a whole new era. And you know it. You can smell it. Over 325,000 of you lined up to get a piece and preorder. Paying $1,000 deposit is not the same as paying full price and taking delivery but, let’s face it, every car maker on earth would love to have a launch like that. It might not be the same but it’s darn impressive. It’s most impressive because it shows that Tesla was able to awaken you to buy into his dream. No one else even came close.
Until now, an electric car was something like a Microsoft Tablet circa 1999. I know cause I bought the Microsoft tablet back in 1999. I was carrying it when I ran into Robert Mugabe at a bar in Tokyo. I was having lunch but he was drinking his. I recognised him immediately. My friends doubted but I was sure.
Taking my trusty Microsoft Tablet to his bar stool, I asked for his autograph. He waved me off but, confronting the man one on one, I can tell you this: He is one scary guy in person.
Later I read in the Japan Times that he had been in Roppongi that day begging for money from the international community. At least my tablet was almost good for something. If you happen to meet an evil dictator in a bar, bring a tablet and maybe a machete. Alas, he declined my pleadings. And I left with my tablet (clunky, almost unusable interface) never to be used again.
But you were smart enough avoid African dictators and also to wait for when tablet technology was ready, ie the iPad. Now we have the Model 3. Is it the Microsoft Tablet or is it the iPad. I’m putting my money and you put your money on it being the latter.
And it’s going to change many things: Like the politics and stability of the Middle East. And the GNP of countries like Japan, Germany, Korea, China, the USA. For better or worse, there will be huge winners and losers. Much like the shift from analog to digital. A few will get it, most will not.
Why did the Model 3 sell so well? Why do you buy cars? Many people think it’s for transportation. But I’ll tell you the real reason. Cars are sexy. There are other reasons, of course but for a significant portion of the population, sex sells cars.
That’s why we have race queens at auto races. That’s why you often see a pretty girl sitting in a nice car. Because cars, whether you like it or not, are sexy. And until now, everyone was trying to sell you convenience, range, practicality, environmentally friendly. But that’s not why people buy cars. They buy them because they are sexy.
Guys buy big trucks because they feel it will rub off on them. I bought my GTI back in university days because I thought girls would think it’s cool. I like it. It’s true. But I thought girls would like the sunroof, cool Recaro like seats. And it was the coolest thing I could afford at the time.
It might come as a shock to some that consumers buy for emotional reasons but Mad Men have known for a long time. Claude Hopkins wrote Scientific Advertising back in 1923 and it’s only gotten more so since then.
Everything has come together for electric cars. The technology of batteries, the logistics of charging, consumer acceptance of new things, the environmental movement. And most importantly, you. You came around. And you will be in the drivers seat.
Thanks for reading to the end. If you’re interested in new ideas, technology, business ideas, making money online and good old fashioned brainstorming, sign up for our newsletter by clicking on the image below.
Prior to the Americans losing in Vietnam, the French lost. And they lost it all on one battle. They were decimated at the town of Dien Bien Phu. The French occupied the small town near the border of Laos and were confident of technological and strategic superiority. One small error, they ignored the towering mountain overlooking Dian Bien Phu.
The French forces ignored it because it was a muddy mess and so steep and unsteady that it was impossible for troops to climb. Not to mention heavy artillery. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to look at little closer at that mountain. In our example, the muddy impossible to climb mountain is making a mass market, super cool, $35,000 car with 215 mile range.
The Vietnamese forces under General Giap spent nights pulling a 40 Howitzers up the miserable mountainside. quarter inch by inch. Night after night of bombing. At one point the canon started to slide and a soldier threw his body to be crushed in order to stop the gun. The meat of his body slowed the slide just enough to save the gun. Days or misery and lack of food but they somehow managed to reach the top of the mountain overlooking Dien Bien Phu. Once they had the superior position, the whole French garrison was sitting ducks and they decimated them and caused the French to flee Indochina and their former colony.
The US and later China would have been wise to heed this lesson. The Vietnamese army was not to be taken lightly. And in Today’s day and age General Giap is Elon Musk. His dual Howitzer and Trojan Horse started firing and invading this week. And like the French, automakers were baffled.
This was a fun week. The Model 3 was finally released and the response was stupendous. The biggest launch of any product in history and it’s still going on. I went to sleep last night and preorder sales were somewhere around 250,000. I wake up to 325,000! The consumers have spoken. Loudly.
The consumers live in the digital age. Not the industrial age. Automotive executives are still reliving the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s. Well maybe not exactly that bad but too close for comfort. Today it’s all about software. Consumers want something unique but they see the difference in the software and way that it is setup. Maybe they want a rose or gold color but by and large the outer differences in laptops and cell phones have vanished. All the difference is on the inside.
Which apps they have. Which photo editing tools they are using. How they are managing their data. It’s all stuff that someone looking at them in Starbucks couldn’t possibly know. And the Model 3 is like that.
It could be a sports car, (ludicrous mode) it could be an economy car. it could be auto-driving, it could be self driving. It could even be a part of a cities public transportation. The only difference between most of these is software. It’s becoming a one size fits all on the outside car world. Inside, there will be plenty to choose. And those choices will be real things. Like being able to have your car pick you up in LA when it’s parked in New York.
The world of “fake differences” is over. Do you remember when the dealer would ask all kinds of questions. You would end up paying 30% more along with your extended warranty that you know you didn’t want but somehow had shoved down your throat anyway. Well thats now how Elon Musk and Tesla operate.
In fact with a Model 3, the opposite will occur. You bought a car with only XYZ features but when you wake up it’s now self driving if you want. That’s what he’s doing. He destroying the value chain where you had to pay more for everything. He’s giving you the coolest car. For the cheapest price and then he’s giving you more.
Mercedes investors went bananas last night at the annual shareholders meeting. Google it. “Why don’t you we have a competitor to the Model 3”? “Why are all our competitors virtual?” These are painful questions to a proud team of executives used to fielding soft balls. But last night it was fastballs coming in all night. And everyone was frustrated. The executives were the most frustrated because truth be told, they don’t even know what the Model 3 is going to do yet. And that scares the bejeezus out of them.
How fast will it be? What is the futuristic ‘spaceship’ steering that Elon Musk talked about this morning? How can you copy something you haven’t seen? How can you prepare for something that you know darn well is going to keep surprising you? How can you make the consumers stop buying the Model 3?? Can I stop this merry go round? I want to get off! I think that’s what they were saying in German…
Elon was a one man Art of War, wheeled in his Trojan Horse and snuck his cannon up the muddy mountain (considered impossible) at his own Dian Bian Phu like the Vietnamese did to defeat the French prior to the US entering to it’s first and only military defeat.
Or “how the leader in electric cars (Toyota) lost their way”
The time was 1996 and I was walking down the tree lined street Omotesando dori in Tokyo. A Japanese friend called me to pick me up. He had somehow managed to get a Toyota Prius before it was launched and wanted to give me a ride. His nickname was Ryder after some movie character in Japan. Anyway, I was blown away that he had managed to get a hold of this mythical auto. Half electric half gas.
Back then, Japanese economy was still riding high. And memories of Japanese innovation were still fresh. Everyone knew the story of Akio Morita and how he wanted to listen to music while he played tennis and ordered his engineers to make something for him: the walkman. And Japan was still chafing from being called a “copycat” of American and European products. So Japanese inventions were very welcome.
He pulled up to the curb and I got in. It was eerie because the car made absolutely no sound. Like a golf cart. Very strange indeed. I was somehow waiting for it to run out of battery or breakdown but we had a very nice drive that Sunday evening. As we crossed the Rainbow bridge and looked back at Tokyo, I felt like a new era had dawned. The era of electric cars. Something like the Jetsons but more down to earth.
After that, when the car was released to the public the next year I started to see Prius’s everywhere. Most of my friends had one. Surfers all. We would ride to China to surf and the cars were so roomy, we could fit a couple boards in the cars: And our weekend surf trip gas costs went way down. No doubt about it, the Prius was revolutionary.
Not only did the thing get insane mileage. It was cool. And, defying all the predictions, was reliable as an old shoe. Right from the beginning. I don’t think people appreciate the incredible risk and achievement the Prius represents. This wasn’t some kids toy. This was a real car using a battery. Unheard of! What happens when it loses ability to recharge? Won’t that brick the entire car?
I was in the US recently and was shocked to learn a couple of things. One, in California the Prius has political overtones. If you have one you are en environmentalist apparently. And you like Obama. These shocked me as in Japan, it’s just a nice, reasonable, reliable car. No stigma attached. It amazes me how Americans can drag politics into cars.
I was in Silicon Valley recently and bumped into a Toyota mechanic that worked on Prius’s. I wanted to know what happens when the battery gets old. How do most people handle it. How much does it cost to replace.
He looked at me strangely and said, “I’m not sure. I’ve never replaced one. My mind melted. Here was an expert on fixing Prius’s tell me he didn’t have to replace batteries. In 2015, 20 years after the damn thing debuted and had never replaced a battery on a Prius. Talk about quality! Toyota should get a Nobel prize of something. I’m sure someone somewhere had to but suffice to say that the Prius is well built. It’s been said that ISIS vehicle of choice in Iraq is a Toyota 4×4 but I think they’re out of their minds. I’d get a Prius.
Anyway, despite leading the field, being the worlds largest car company, having an insane amount of consumer data, preferences showing consumers want an electric car, why hasn’t Toyota made one?
The answer is engineers. Japan’s biggest asset and biggest threat is engineers. Allow me to explain. I once worked for Chiyoda Chemical in Kawasaki, Japan. And I worked with engineers. Lots of engineers. And these guys were smart. Smart as the day is long. And cool guys too. They worked all over the world. (my dad is an engineer too so I know a thing or two about these guys) Anyway, engineers are a particular breed. By and large, there are not fond of salesmen who they consider to be unnecessary. I mean the thing is good, you can see that. What’s the point in having a guy tell you that? They look at the world and see a mass of uneducated people using “gifts” made by engineers.
If engineers didn’t exist, dams would collapse, buildings would collapse, cities would collapse upon themselves. But because there are engineers, these things work. So the average knucklehead can just get on his Suzuki scooter and drive 50,000 miles without changing oil. Even though the manual says to change every 5 meters. But the average guy pays no heed because he knows that the bike can handle much more abuse than it says in the manual.(hint that’s me we’re talking about here). Because of the engineers hard work.
So if engineers are so good in Japan, how could they possibly have ruined Toyota’s lead in the industry? And while we are on the subject, how did Apple destroy the Japanese cell phone industry? How how did the Koreans and Chinese get a large share of the electronics market? And air conditioners? And microwaves and on and on. In a nutshell, why is Japanese industry losing market share year after year.?
This is the part where you have to do something. Physical. OK, stand up. Walk around your house. Look for Japanese electronics and remote controls. Do it now. Got them? Do you know how to use it? Or is it a confusing mess of tiny buttons with no discernible function? Are you deathly afraid of somehow pressing the wrong button and messing up your perfect setting? Do you have a sinking feeling if you ever accidentally lean on it, maybe after a beer or two, and hear the ominous…beep. The beep means you need to get a sledgehammer and smash it to bits and give yourself 50 wet spaghetti noodle lashes. Why is this the case? Because engineers made that remote.
An engineer would look at your incorrect settings, play with it for a few seconds and whala! The thing works like normal and how has green tea aroma air. Because that’s apparently a setting inside the complicated monster. You see. Engineers run Japan and they like it that way.
So here’s how it all ties in together. Engineers think they know better than you. They make stuff. You use it. And should be happy about it. Why can’t you use the remote? What’s wrong with you? That is Japanese companies opinion. I lived there forever and can tell you with assurance. And it hurts Japan in ways they can’t imagine.
Back to Chiyoda in Kawasaki in 1996, Chiyoda was an amazing company. They had it all. The best engineering. The deepest knowledge. Vast experience building power plants and large projects all over the world. It really was a pleasure to know those guys and gals and I’m better for it. But Chiyoda had one major problem and it relates to Toyota and the Prius. The problem was a Sales and Marketing division. They didn’t have one.
Their competitors Bechtel (again my brother and dad worked there) and Flour got all the good projects. They were inferior to Chiyoda in knowledge. In skill. In my opinion, Chiyoda and Mitsubishi were far and away the better engineering firms back then. If you wanted a huge waterway through Libya, call Chiyoda. But they sucked at sales. Hopeless.
When the Chiyoda team lost a sale, the team would say, over a few sake and chuhai, “well their engineering team is not nearly as good as us so they’ll come back. Once they realize how complex it is. and on and on. But the clients didn’t come back.
It sounded like the rationalization of man who just lost his girlfriend. She’ll realize I’m the better man. She’ll come back once she realizes all I did for her. How much I love her and so on. Except she never does come back. The clients didn’t either and Chiyoda is a shell of it’s former self.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Toyota is essential to the Japanese economy. The network of suppliers. The group companies. Toyota employs something like 99% of the population in Japan. (just kidding but it’s essential to both business and confidence in Japan.I’m exaggerating the numbers but not the essence. If Toyota falls, Japan will implode. “At least we have Toyota….”
Japanese people have watched Samsung grow from almost nothing to be bigger than all the Japanese electronics companies combined; they watched Renault buy Nissan; Hon Hai/Foxconn bought Sharp: But these are all bit players compared to Toyota. Toyota is the big daddy in Japan. Many hate it because they squeeze their suppliers worse than a pit bulls chew toy but they all respect it. The Japanese spirit. Toyota is like a hinoki beam at a Japanese temple to the economy.
Toyota is run by engineers in Japan at least. Luckily they were forced to setup US operations during the anti-Japan protests in the 80’s. (when I moved to Asia) Toyota is a rare company that really is efficient to the core and that’s because of the Japanese engineering side. And Toyota cars are getting more stylist and better at marketing, that’s the foreign side. I know it’s complicated and Japanese have caught on blah blah blah but this is an essential truth. Most large Japanese companies that don’t have foreign operations are Zombie Companies. They had new blood, new thinking, different ways of looking at things, they were forced to adapt, kicking and screaming to the digital age. To change. This was their saving grace. Toyota has this. They just don’t seem to have enough…
Back to the Prius: Gotta give them credit, Toyota engineers did the impossible. Essentially they made a Chevy Volt (dual gas, electric) back in the stone ages. And it’s so good that every Uber driver in Silicon Valley is required to use on or they will be shot by a lazer from space. Well maybe not that bad but the things are so reliable and impossible to destroy, they take over like a virus. And we are talking about a very complicated car. Gas is too complicated as we are learning looking at what Mr. Musk is getting up to. Electric cars are simpler, have less moving parts, less heat loss and are much more reliable.
So why in the hell doesn’t Toyota have an electric car? I’ll tell you what I think but you can probably already guess. Engineers think fuel cells are better. Engineers like fuel cells. They are complicated. Hydrogen blows up. Designing a fuel cell (hydrogen) car is like making a dress for a rhinoceros. It’s challenging. The whole thing looks like a can of beans with botulism. Or to give an attractive example, like a kimono.
Have you ever tried to take one off a lover? It’s like unwrapping a ball of string the size of Yankee stadium. I felt like I was on candid camera. Like someone should pop out and congratulate me for doing it. I was exhausted. But enough about kimono’s and undressing. On second thought, while we are on the topic, she looked lovely and I couldn’t’ understand why they wrapped her up like a full body zombie, tourniquet.
So Toyota hasn’t made an electric car for the same reason your remote control on your television still is impossible to use. In the old days, Japan was so far ahead of the rest of the world that we consumers would just bite the bullet, admit it’s our fault, and try to get the damn heater back on. But when Apple started offering apps that work with Korean air conditioners and were exceedingly simple and intuitive, we made the switch.
Although I cannot see it myself, thinking back to those awesome engineers at Chiyoda I bet they are right. Maybe fuel cells would be better in a perfect world. But this isn’t that. It’s the real world. Tesla just took orders for more preorder cars that anyone could have predicted. The consumers have spoken. And they want electric.
I know some of you are saying, “electric cars pollute too! oil, coal, nuclear are used to make electricity!” With a wide grin. But guess what? Consumers don’t care. They didn’t buy the Prius to save the environment. The bought for a number of all too human reasons.
Consumers originally bought Prius’s to look cool. To have street cred as an eco warrior. Toyota didn’t realize this an accidentally made one model without the “hybrid” badge and guess what? No one wanted them. So they put it back. Consumers are fickle. Even they can’t tell you what they want. (see Steve Jobs entire life) but it’s your job as a business person to find out.
Me too. I’m illogical and emotional when it comes to buying things. I make up all kinds of logical excuses to convince myself but at the core, it’s a gut emotional decision. I’m foaming at the mouth to get a Tesla Model 3. I also will buy the new Macbook.. because I heard it will be the first redesign on 8 years and I want to look cool sitting in Starbucks spilling coffee all over my pants.
Not only do consumers want electric + battery, they think it’s the future. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. If consumers think that, it will happen. Damn the torpedos They will buy them.
But it’s worse than that Toyota. Consumers don’t want dangerous exploding canisters in their car. Even if engineers think they are pretty safe. They don’t want trucks driving around their neighborhoods full of hydrogen. Then don’t want highly explosive filling stations next to their home or office.
Think about it this way. They are divorcing their first husband (gasoline) and want a new one that doesn’t have the slightest resemblence to the old one.(electric). So fuel cells, with their explosive, smelly, dangerous fuel is too similar. They don’t want a “new fuel”, they don’t want “clean diesel” they don’t want another fuel that will run out in our future. They don’t want smelly stuff either.
They certainly don’t want poorly guarded, highly explosive hydrogen trucks roaming the countryside which will be the supply chain for hydrogen. They don’t want fossil fuels. (95% of hydrogen is produced using fossil fuel and coal). ATTN investors, auto producers. When people make a change they often go extreme and hydrogen is just too damn much like gasoline.
They want simple. They want new. They want the future and not the past. They want a simple cute plug to go in their car. That’s it.
Stop listening to your engineers and start listening to the exciting future that will be, for better or worse, the future.
Footnote. I sincerely hope Toyota gets the message before they blow through their $20 billion cash.
Any questions or comments please email me at [email protected] I appreciate you reading to the end and would love to hear from you 🙂 Have a good one!
You are witnessing history folks. Things don’t change quickly in real life. Much of history is people watching paint dry. When you are older, you can say that you were there when all petrol automakers cratered. When the new blood arose with vicious consequences.
This article is about those consequences. Not about the specifics of the Tesla Model 3. How cool it is. How fast. How handsome. How it’s better than amy high end gas car on the market. It’s better than any car made by any manufacturer in the world. And I’m including million dollar super cars in this calculation.
Automakers were simply caught with their pants down on this one. Years of ripping off consumers has slowly worn away their ability to think. To reason. To realize that a startup could come and wipe them off the map.
Well that time is now. Or at least it’s started. I predict right here, right now that almost all car companies are toast. It’s audacious. Outrageous. I’m telling you what no one else is. Traditional automakers are crumbling. And there is no saving them. They are simply too lost and befuddled and have too much vested interest in the old way. Let’s look at the competition.
VW: Until recently the worlds largest car company. Corrupt to the core. Sold 11,000,000 cars worldwide that pollute up to 40x the legal amount. They simply lost their edge and threw a Hail Mary hoping no one would find out. Well we did. And this formerly awesome company is over. No one wants a VW. They might take one if it was super cheap. That’s who’s looking at new VW’s now. Bargain hunters, K-Mart shoppers, Blue Light Special.
What does VW mark stand for now? It stands for cheating. It stands for polluting. It stands for global warming. Who wants that in their driveway? What kind of salesmen would want to be seen driving to an appointment with one? Advertising pollution, cheating and utter disregard for others.
Would you drive a car that said, Enron on it? One back and front? Inside? Would you be seen driving to Enron dealerships? Nope. A car is a personal thing: a source of pride and this train left the station.
People are downright embarrassed to be seen in a VW of any type. TDI drivers get mocked at red lights. Interviewee’s park down the street. Guys avoid taking a girl on a first date in a VW. Why lower your chances? She’s probably pro-nature and loves animals. You look like a polluting oaf. Why take chances? If there were a place people could dump VW’s for scrap metal, I guarantee people would stop by to at least ask the price. It’s like having a Martin Shkreli model car.
I can tell you this with assurance. A very good friend of mine is utterly embarrassed to be seen in his TDI. He parks far away. Walks further. Can’t wait to get rid of it and is buying a Model 3.
VW’s problems come with within and without. Reminds me of that old joke, “I’d piss on his grave but the line was too long”. Everyone is suing VW. Car owners suing corporate. Car dealerships suing HQ. Governments champing at the bit to sue. Air quality groups suing VW. And finally the US government is now going to sue VW using RICO laws. RICO is a word you usually only hear on a Sopranos episode. It’s reserved for the lowest scum on earth. And will be used against VW. And they brought it upon themselves.
VW scandal is so bad that the “German Quality” and “German Engineering” brands are badly damaged. Germans are embarrassed. They are changing their sales pitches. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. When before they would say with pride, “German Engineering!” now they talk about tests, results, facts. Gone is the strong conviction emotional pitch. It’s painful to watch. They didn’t cause it. As we’ve seen with many things in this scandal. It sucks. And it’s worse than what is being reported. Very painful indeed. No folks, VW is so over that in the end, the Germans themselves will dig the grave and backup the earth mover to bury it.
Next up: Toyota!
With Toyota, think Betamax and VHS. Except it’s even worse because VHS is superior in this case. Allow me to explain. If you don’t remember this epic duel of technologies, I’ll boil it down. Sony had Betamax. It was better. It had few moving parts. The audio was better. The video was better. The size of both tape and machine were smaller. It was more reliable, by far. I sold them in university as my job was working in Leo’s Stereo from 84-88.
Anyway I won’t go too long on this but Beta was better. But VHS killed Beta. Sony was so sure they would win, they didn’t share, they didn’t play nice. They wanted the whole cake. The entire industry. And they were sure they would get it. National had the VHS and it sucked. But they were more cool about things. Shared technology freely. Let anyone make a VHS. (like Tesla, open sourcing their technology for example).
Sony had the lead, they had the technology, they had the dealers, they had the cool factor but they lost it all. And it’s been downhill ever since. Sony is a shell of a company now. There was no reckoning in the halls of Sony. No mass firings of Beta guys. It was just swept under the rug. They never really got it. Still don’t as far as I know.
Ok so Toyota is Beta. Toyota is confident that fuel cells are superior. They have the power of gas. In fact, far as I know, they drive exactly like their petrol counterparts. Which is what consumers want right? Uhh no. Consumers want the Model 3. And they want “Ludicrous Mode”
Ask yourself, do you want a highly explosive, tightly packed, explosive gas canister in the car with your family? Do you want to end up like the Hindenburg?
It costs more petroleum to make than just burning the petroleum. It is not energy-dense, so has a short driving range so it must be so highly compressed that the small hydrogen molecule (nature’s smallest molecule / atom) simply permeates the storage vessel and leaks away while causing metal embrittlement. And, because of the increasing pressure, it takes forever to fill the last 10% of your tank. (credit Tom Preble)
Ok, so a highly pressurized canister of hydrogen is not the safest things to have in a moving vehicle. What about in a new “Safe Hydrogen” station in your neighborhood? Would you like the massive helium station next to your house? School? Business? Would you worry that maybe, just maybe, someone might try to blow it up?
What about those hundreds of thousands of trucks roaming around delivering hydrogen? Does that make you feel any better? Uhh lemme think about that one. Thousands of huge, mobile, poorly guarded explosive canisters driving the streets? Just what we need Toyota. And the fact that there are now no filling stations and the car costs something like $140,000 to make and looks like a can of beans with botulism. Anyway, they look terrible. And not in a good way. And it’s because of the complicated internals so can’t be avoided. And that sucks.
Until the Model 3 launched, this was all theoretical. Which would be better electric or hydrogen? Which would win? Oh how exciting. Well it’s over folks. And electric won. I applaud Toyota and was kind of hoping they would pull a rabbit out of the hat. If not just for competition’s sake. And they did. But the rabbit sucked and we will move on now.
Toyota does have $20 billion cash so it’s possible they will make something consumers want to buy. But there’s no guarantee and if history is any guide, Japanese companies having boatloads of cash does not necessarily lead to anything productive. Look back at the bubble when Japanese companies were flush with cash. Where did it all go? Also, Toyota has one big thing against it. The are an engineering company? That’s good right? Except for when the engineers like playing with hydrogen and consumers are want electric. See How Toyota Squandered its Lead in Electric Vehicles for a play by play.
Next up GM:
GM was surprisingly adept. They came out with the Volt. half gas, half electric. Not bad looking. Not really cool either simply because of the necessity of designing the thing with a gas engine, transmission, drive train. But they did alright. It looks kind of just below average in coolness. And that’s pretty good for something with that many moving parts… so we get on to reliability.
Today’s pop quiz about the number
of moving parts and reliability! Get ready kids. This is going to be difficult. Take your Tim Ferris approved ‘smart drugs”
One this side of the ring, you have an electric motor. It has only one moving part, the rotor. The electric vehicle requires less periodic maintenance and is more reliable. How often do you take your blender to the shop for a tune up? Sorry I might be giving away hints. I apologize. Really. I feel awful. Ok, let’s move on to gas…like the Volt.
A petrol-powered car requires a wide range of maintenance, from frequent oil changes, filter replacements, periodic tune ups, and exhaust system repairs, to the less frequent component replacement, such as the water pump, fuel pump, alternator, etc. You know about this right? We’ve all been there. At the shop. And you know how honest car garages are right? So you can’t wait to get down there so he can tell you, “your tranny is shot” and he’s not talking about lady boys. No sir. He’s talking about cold hard cash transferring from your account to his.
One more hint, why doesn’t Tesla have huge garages to fix the cars? Why do they sell in malls? With no mechanics present..hmm chew on that one for awhile. And, before you say it, I will. Tesla did have some issues with reliability. But luckily they were cheap to fix. You guessed it, because the car was electric. “Tesla can get away with reliability issues because they are cheaper than ones related to a combustion engine” Edmunds (Edmunds is the most popular car comparison site)
So the Volt, although was reasonably cool and a nice try in my opinion. But it was conceived in an era before the discovery of graphene. And recent advances in batteries. So in a nutshell, GM and all other car companies (except for BYD) are betting the farm that there will be no real battery improvements significant enough to make electric vehicles go…well like the Model 3. Doh!
GM now has the Bolt which is a true electric car. It’s pretty decent looking on paper. The Bolt reminds me of a Microsoft phone. Looks good. Specs are alright. Not bad. Like a Microsoft phone but consumers by and large yawned. Why? Because they don’t get that consumers want sexy cars now! Frumpy Prius, Volt/Bolt are out. Model 3, sleek, sexy hot are in.
I’ve been saying for years that I would never build a car company dependent on someone not inventing a better battery. And that is what gas car companies are doing folks. They are betting the farm on no one making a better battery. Or a lighter frame like the Gordon Murray Design announce ‘iSTREAM® CARBON So gasoline and hydrogen car companies are being squeezed from both ends. Better batteries (Tesla is rumoured to be working on a 500 mile range graphene battery) and lighter frames. Either will help electric but both will decimate the competition.
Tesla blindsided the auto industry and now Apple and Baidu and maybe Google are making cars. Apple Titan project is predicted to have a consumer car in 4 years. And like the iPhone, automakers will simply have to wait to see what it is. They can’t even start studying and preparing. And making a car has a very long lead time. I’m not saying this will happen, but if Apple’s car is groundbreaking, automakers will give Apple a 3-4 year window till the can react. It’s not like a phone where you can just pump one out. Cars are slow. And automakers have nothing to go on. This simply have no idea what Apple is doing. And they are hoping it won’t be too good. But, as we know, Apple is careful about entering new markets but when they do, it tends to be good.
So I’ll digress to one other factor. Car dealerships suck. Everyone hates them. They are not tech savvy. They are filled with scumbags; they have ripped off everyone reading this at least once. Am I right? And they give us a sinking feeling. That feeling likely occurs because we know it will happen again. So we buy cars at Costco!
So car companies have backed themselves into a corner. Decades of bad behavior have caught up with them. Their dealerships, by extension them, are poorly regulated, in bad locations, are not transparent and just plain suck. Basically the way traditional car companies operate is to give you a car, then throw you to the wolves (dealerships). Awful after sales service. And this will come to haunt them. It’s baggage up and coming electric car companies Tesla, Baidu, Google, Apple and BYD (you might not have heard of BYD the electric car company from China but you might know their biggest investor, Warren Buffet) simply don’t have.
Imagine if you bought something at Tiffany’s but the shop that sold it wouldn’t help you when you had a problem. You had to go to the Tiffany Dealerships. Dark, full of rough characters, holding heavy wrenches.. Relics of a time when the consumer had no power. And electric will erase them from history. And we will live happily ever after. The end
PS: And while we are on the PSS’s. Lets consider a few other things that suck about petrol cars. How about the fact that people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. And I don’t mean long term dead. I mean kissing your girlfriend in the car, leaving the heater running dead. And I mean freezing cold weather in Minnesota and sitting in your car with engine running dead. Electric cars do not kill people sitting in them. And cannot be used for suicide. So those cars found running in the Japanese countryside every year with people committing suicide will not be happening. And maybe, just maybe, taking away a popular suicide methodology will lower death rates. I for one, think it will. Giving people a chance to think about it. Some fresh air to breath. That’s all most people need. Also carbon monoxide death is painless. So many people choose it as they are afraid of pain. Another reason to carry on. And give life a chance!
PSS: So gas sucks, smells, burns, has to be stored, runs out, ruins the environment. Gas powered cars have too many moving parts, break down, (breaking down sucks. Do you want your daughter breaking down in a gas car at night?) are expensive to fix, their complex internals cause the designs to suck. (many of these things we never noticed before because we had no options). Car dealerships suck. The whole buying process sucks. We all have bad experiences with gas cars, their dealerships, reliability etc but we never imagined we’d have a choice. But to people and especially entrepreneurs and investors we need to wake up.
This is a seminal time. Things are changing and will never be the same again. And most people don’t really realize what’s going on. For those few who are aware, can handle the implications, the benefits are clear to see. I hope this has been eye opening. I apologize for not being a car guy but no one else put all the pieces together, or at least the pieces I saw, so I tried to. Grammar isn’t perfect. Maybe even a fact or two misplaced but I hope this adds value and understanding to this important topic that affects us all. today and in the future. If you read till now and enjoyed this, please like and share on Facebook. Thank you very much 🙂 Any feedback please send to [email protected] I will add Facebook comments to this blog soon. Thanks for taking the time to read!
A federal judge has extended the deadline for VW to April 21st to come up with a specific fix for the 600,000 cars roaming US roadways and spewing up to 40x (forty times man…said in a slow, Spicoli, stoned voice). And, unfortunately for VW management, it has to be a “concrete proposal”.
Luckily the PaulSalo.com research team of Thai elephants has been working round the clock on a solution. We got your back. Things were looking darker than a Bangkok rainstorm on Sukhumvit until heaven delivered the perfect proposal on Saturday evening. And it won’t cost $15 billion like everyone is suggesting. How about a measly $6 million? Well at least until late 2017. Then the price goes up a bit but the benefits go through the roof and everyone will win on this.
How did VW go from the Penthouse to the doghouse? (Hundehütte) Basically VW lost it’s edge on the one thing it’s known for: German Engineering. This was almost a national brand. A powerful thing…ohhh German Engineering… ok I like how it rolls off my tongue. Sounds so important. Nebulous but crucial. I mean, we don’t say Italian engineering or Chinese engineering unless we were talking about a bridge that fell into a river. But oh we do, or we used to, say German engineering.
It kept things clear in our minds. We have these ideas that are easy to hang your hat on. German means hardworking, upstanding, effective, relentless, strong, trustworthy.. now that’s where the train goes off the rails. Exactly where you wouldn’t want it to.
To say VW lost it’s engineering edge is like saying that the money you sent to the Ministry of Affairs and co/ Foreign Minister of Nigerian Banks might be lost. Or that Miley Cyrus forgot her bra. It was lost long ago my friends.
The story begins in a cute little cottage in the mountains of Austria. VW execs gathered in this secret location concerned that they couldn’t compete with Toyota’s Hybrids, Honda’s fuel sippers or Hyundai’s sporty economic wonders: not to mention Tesla’s stunning new Model S. This upstart Tesla was really the point of the meeting. It was good. It had clean lines. It had the best safety rating of any vehicle ever made…. and it was electric. Ouch. In a word, it was earth shattering. VW had an electric Golf but have you heard about it? Nope. Thats cause it’s poorly marketed and not profitable. ie they don’t want you to.
Anyway, the mood was darker than the Black Forest. It was so bad that the top brass at VW finally had to throw in the boot and say scheisse !! several times in unison. But then, suddenly, a man sounding eerily like Colonel Wilhelm Klink in Hogan’s Heroes strolled in. “Vat if we do something that they would not-see (NOT SEE…get it hahaha ok sorry. I’m sorry. really. I am)
A man of principle, not easily swayed by something like a verbal gaffe, he continued, “vat if we make it all up? Since our engineers are not capable of competing with new green car technology, vat if we just make up a whole fake green car category? Another comrade piped up. “yea somezing no one else is doing. And they won’t be able to copy us cause we aren’t really doing it!!” Finally heir CEO, arose and with a newly discovered vigor exclaimed “CLEAN DIESEL !!”
Beer girls suddenly appeared out of nowhere and they sang the old German tune, “Bock haben Clean Diesel!” I’m in the mood for clean diesel. Everyone agreed it was the perfect solution. And beers were ordered for the engineering department as they were tasked with coming up with the nuts and bolts of this audacious sham for this “Clean Diesel” rollout.
Clean Diesel signs were printed, beers were drunk and after everyone loosened their lederhosen, then engineers stumbled in. Soooo he drunkenly muttered and fell flat on his face. On seeing his condition, his backup man staggered in “ssssoofft” he managed to utter and then he too did a faceplant.
Silence gripped the room. lederhosen tightened. Everyone in the room suddenly looked like, well Germans. And then the newest engineer, hired two days before Oktoberfest, spoke. Cheating software..he said in a quiet voice. The men, erupted with laughter. Good cheer and rounds of beer flooded the room as the previiously serious executives broke into a cheer, not unlike a football supporters, Cheating software!! cheating software! It mattered little how badly mangled the pronunciation. And no one stopped to question if this would be a good road for VW to take and they overlooked the fact that they were all speaking broken English to each other. No! None of that mattered now. VW had a clear path to profitability.
They would make up a fake type of clean car and market worldwide. Such was “Clean Diesel” created. It was a hit from the beginning with owners saying, “this has pep like a dirty disgusting diesel! But is clean!” and “the road is painted black behind me when I accelerate but I’m happy to be driving a clean car. So customers realized they could have their Gugelhupf and eat it too!
Europeans were excited because this was a “European only technology”. The Japanese put their sushi aside and studied this clean diesel meticulously as they are wont to do. But they could not unlock the secrets contained within. They were stumped. So were the Americans. If a car could perform like a car without any pesky pollution control devices BUT also be clean, 9and the Germans, home of German Engineering) said so, then it’s fine.
Back to the gathering in Austria. VW management were so excited now they were on the tables chanting Clean diesel! Fake company! Fake engineering! Let’s throw all our goodwill in the garbage in one shot! (this was difficult to pronounce but they did their best.
Since you were so kind as to allow me to give you historical context to this debacle. I will reward you with the “final solution”. VW is forced to buy Model 3’s for everyone!! See! The solution was staring us in the face the whole time. Put 600k $1,000 down payments to order Tesla Model 3’s!
Basically everyone wins. The customers win eventually (but still have to pollute like chemical factories in Henan for only another 2 years). That will weigh on their conscience no doubt but keep in mind that this will be balanced by knowing that they will soon have a beautiful Tesla Model 3 to drive and can forget that Volkswagon ever existed as they will be sued into bankruptcy by a very litigious USA! USA! USA!
And VW was then sued down to their underpants (unterhose) by the ‘mericans, Tesla built thousands of superchargers in Germany, VW factories were sold for scrap metal, the Chinese purchased the entire city of Wolfsburg and relocated it to Zhejiang and thus ends the tale of the worst decision ever made by a modern corporation. The end
I’ve got a great idea. Let’s pretend that big companies don’t pay tax: At all. That they (and the rich) live off our taxes.
Let’s instill in kids the idea that big corporations are different from small companies that grew and succeeded. So they can’t draw a connection between things they can do and big things that seem out of reach. So they feel powerless.
Let’s fight the big (domestic) companies! Then let’s raise taxes on them. Let’s make it hard for them to do business. Then let’s not listen to them. The lying barstards.
Let’s pretend that the world is only one country: That companies (and people) don’t have options. And let’s come down like a ton of bricks on companies that use legal means to lower taxes. (like move to Ireland). Let’s make life as hard as we possibly can for successful people and companies.
And while we’re at it, let’s pretend that corporate logos are actually symbols of the devil. Have you ever tried to design a logo without using triangles, circles? I have. Hint: It’s not easy to think of new geometry.
Let’s hurt those near us: self sabotage and then let’s wonder why our son or daughter is having trouble finding a job. If we are employed by one of these companies, let’s consider ourselves a “sell out”. Let’s bad talk the people paying us! yea
Always remember that the degree of evil is closely related to the companies size. So Microsoft was an awesome startup, success story until it grow in revenue to be, for a time, the most evil corp of all. As sales declined due to the rise of Google and Apple, Microsoft slowly became a decent place and Bill Gates not so bad after all. Same with GM. Top of the list until they almost went bankrupt. Then there were the heartland of America etc.
Is this making sense? So the evilness must vary over time. Google was a big success and awesome place but as they have succeeded, they inevitably became the devil himself and evil incarnate.
1.you have to endure massive pressure from your family and friends. Dre had to leave home. Wife and small baby left him. Very painful I’m sure.
2. What you find yourself doing something for fun take a mental snapshot. it’s something you love. Dre’s fingers moving to the music that would later become “Nuthin But A “G” Thang
3. Stick to the thing that makes you unique. Even if you look like a total fool: Scene when potential investors walked out disgusted.
4. Prepare before your chance comes. There’s gonna be one situation in your career where you gotta man up. Your big chance. Be ready. Cube worked his ass off after hearing “they have body bags at the door. So you better bring it!” Doo do’s (dew doughs) bar
5. Take a chance! . If you don’t like how I’m livin well He flipped off the crowd and said “fu”. He knew the club was full of crips and bloods.
6. Get far away from the Lonzo’s of life. Who give you miniscule chances but demand you give up your soul. Always telling Dre “the only reason you up on that stage is cause I put you up there! Take a backseat. ”
7. Getting artists to perform is an art itself. Dre coaxes E into the booth and just tells him, to come in “on beat” when actually everything he did was wrong. He tread lightly and gave respect even throwing Cube and Yella out of the studio to make E more comfortable. Say the words like you mean um. Like they’re your words. This is the best scene in the whole movie for me. And the most like a startup business than anything. They just almost had a brawl in the studio and then lost the talent. They have a drug dealer as an investor. There is no one to rap the songs. Dre really shows that in addition to being a genius producer he knows people. He is the one with people skills in the band. And that is key for NWA. It’s like he’s light years ahead in maturity to the other guys. If you ever started a company you should watch this scene. It’s startup reality
8. Raise money any way you can. First from Easy’s crack business and later from the “California raisins” label.
9. Challenges change as your succeed. Getting good publicity, AirPlay, raising money, negative publicity, women, jealous boyfriends, and what killed easy, AIDS and reality. You have to keep upping your game just to stay in it.
10. You have to mature as a person. Don’t think black and white. life can be grey. Frenemies-shug knight. Freedom from nwa and Jerry. J
11. Think before you diss a good friend. Even if you feel like it. For one thing, they were your friends. But also they know more about you than anyone else and can cut deep. What’s the point? Don’t disrespect old friend because it will cause major damage to you. Easy disses Cube after he goes solo calling him a traitor. Cube destroys them with “no vasoline”.
12. Grow up. Suge making that the east coast rapper apologize in his underwear at gunpoint. Meanwhile the band was at a whole new level. Let go of childish things. Reinvent yourself. It’s ok to let your old “self” go. It’s essential actually.
13. Wait till you can tell an epic story right if it’s important. Don’t rush out garbage on the big stuff. Everything in this movie is class. The 80’s fashion costumes on the patrons at Doo Do’s were right on. They took their time on this and it shows. Cube’s son had to audition for two years to get this! They took this seriously
14′ don’t blindly believe the media. I remember when this movie came out. It was vilified. They were evil gangsters spreading violence. But this movie was very cleansing for me. Because I saw everything from a whole new angle. I saw young man with confidence being beaten down not being given the tools they need I saw an issue, police violence, being raised as a canary in the coal mine. 25 years later with YouTube and cell phones everything they said has been proven true.
15. Lawyer up! Dre lost all to Suge. Cube didn’t accept the $75,000 check.
16. Be a creator. Dre always has money even if he has no money. His value is in his mind.
17. Don’t get what you are promised? In this case, an advance for his second album. Bring a baseball bat or gangster attitude to collect debts. Just like me and Sun Fei turning over desks in China. Man after my own heart. Don’t let people walk all over you and if the police won’t help you, go get it yourself. Danger be damned. As Nike said, just do it.
18. Don’t believe the media kids. The media had it that these guys were promoting violence and gang membership. But only two guys in the band were in a gang Ren and Easy and they joined the band to get out of the gang! It was a total lie. And we all swallowed it. I know I did.
Ever since I left Shanghai and my regular dentist a couple years ago, I’ve been desperate for an excellent dentist. Not just a standard business as usual doc but someone who would take the time really get in there and deep clean. I also had a bit of pain that couldn’t be explained and wanted to know exactly what it was and how to deal with it.
So many doctors are run of the mill and don’t really put their best effort in when giving care and I have no desire to put my mouth in such care.
In Japan, I asked tons of friends in Japan and no one seemed to have a dentist who really stood out. Same in Los Angeles. I was recommended just to Google or Yelp it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist (ok, a full on perfectionist) and this can be a burden but in the case of medical care, it’s always served me very well.
As I’m now in Bangkok, I tried gave it another try posting on my Facebook page and several Bangkok Expat groups. I also asked Thai friends and everyone that took the time to reply said the same name. Dr. Asavanant in Thong Lo.
I booked an appointment and crossed my fingers. Upon arrival at the clinic, I was whisked to Dr Asavanant’s office, quickly x-rayed and (sorry I don’t know the name of the machine but it’s like an MRI)’d.
A minute later I’m back in Dr Asavanant’s office looking at each of my teeth up on the huge monitor in front of me. It is strange to see each of my teeth blown up to almost a foot high in HD but was very enlightening too.
He pointed out a brown spot and said I had a small cavity that was probably the cause of my slight pain. He showed me in excruciating detail exactly what it looked like. I could see that it needed fixing. It was immensely reassuring to both see and hear what was going on with my mouth. Until today I always had to take it for granted that a had a cavity or needed cleaning. On the big screen, it’s very obvious.
So off I go to the next room and the doctor and her assistant (name?) explained that on top teeth, each can be numbed individually but on bottom teeth (due to the bone being larger on jaw) the only way was to number half my mouth. Then she said that we could try without novocaine.
It never occurred to me to have a cavity fixed without numbing it but, as my care was excellent to this point, I decided to go with her instinct. Drill with no novocaine.
To my surprise, no pain. No pain at all. She happily drilled away and then started filling the cavity in. All painless. she proceeded to clean like a madwoman and polish my teeth. I asked Dr. Asavanant if I should whiten my teeth (which I always hate to do as I know it is not really good for them) and he told me. I don’t. You can if you want.
This kind of honest, common sense dentistry is so rare. I always feel obligated to get shots, numb everything, add everything, do everything but Dr. Asavanant’s office was a totally different experience. Honest, clean, straightforward, transparent and fair.
They have me a nice tour of the office and I was not surprised to see that above Dr Asavanant’s office is his international dental training facility in cooperation with 3-M. Doctors fly in from all over to train at his facilities.
Everything is done in house which is fantastic for people popping into Thailand for dental care. He does literally everything in house: Implants, you name it.
When I got the bill, I was bowled over. 4,500 baht or about $125 USD! After I settled the bill, curious to how this experience was so much better than any dentist I ever went to, I got talking to Alisa Sotthidata, Dr Asavanant’s manager.
It turns out that she is a long time family friend and knew the whole history of his clinic. Dr. Asavanant’s family is in the gold business from way back. Here you can see a picture of Alisa and myself in front of the Asavanant families gold shop. So if you’re wondering why the best clinic in Bangkok, and perhaps Asia, shares office frontage with a gold shop, you can let it rest.
Dr Asavanant’s family was dead set on him going into the family gold business and all his brothers and sisters went to top schools but ended up in the family business: Except for Dr. Asavanant. He really really wanted to be a dentist with the best, latest equipment so he could give the best possible medical care.
No doubt his family’s wealth helped him get started but, as everyone I asked told me, Dr Asavanant’s clinic is the finest. The prices are more than fair and I highly recommend you stop by and check it out. 5 stars
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I was bored to death in my sales job in California. Looking for opportunities abroad, I never heard about sales abroad. Always about English teaching (boring with no future) engineering and manufacturing (requiring technical education that I didn’t have). What could I do with tons of energy, enthusiasm and experience selling while I was in school? Sales! Selling advertising in local expat rags, recruiting students (sales) for expat schools, marketing for bars and restaurants, selling for English schools.