Litigious Shenanigans

Anyone who knows me or has read some prior blog posts knows I am a huge fan of Tesla Motors (TSLA) and electric vehicles in general. The math of electric cars is undeniably compelling and will be the subject of a future blog post.

TSLA has been on the receiving end of countless lawsuits in recent years by automobile dealer associations and others. Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Virginia and others have lawsuits in various stages of flight and appeals trying to completely block TSLA from selling to consumers, limiting how many vehicles they can sell, etc. In fact, it is currently illegal in Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, and Texas for TSLA to sell directly to consumers. Despite this TSLA has stores in many states (see map above) including those that block the direct sale, where consumers can get more information, see and drive the car, and then go home and order online. The core argument of this litigation is that the direct sales model TSLA has violates state automotive franchise rules and that the TSLA sales model would set a precedent that ‘threatens the way independent franchises have sold and serviced vehicles for eight decades’.

This type of argument is so monolithic and predictable, with obvious$ motivations. It is unclear to me how this is a different approach than a local grocery store trying to block a farmers market or girl scout from selling cookies. It was not too many years ago when the big three sat with their hands out asking for a bailout simply because they were unable to adapt to the changing needs of consumers and watched competitors like Toyota make record profits by selling efficient and reliable cars. You would think that the auto industry would be watching the success TSLA is having and implementing options for adapting their sales model and products to compete, similar to what big box retailers had to do to compete with Amazon. The auto industry should also be reveling in the fact that TSLA recently made their patents public.

In his “All Our Patent Are Belong To You” blog post, CEO of TSLA Elon Musk wrote: “Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.” Of course the release of the patents initially scared Wall Street who thought perhaps Elon was having a Tony Stark (Ironman) like moment but despite all of the obstacles and naysayers, TSLA stock has had over 1000% growth in a few short years. At a time where numerous other companies are fleeing for tax inversion benefits or cheap overseas labor, it appears as though later today TSLA will officially announce that Nevada will be the site of the new 5 billion dollar battery factory which will create 6,500 jobs in northern Nevada. Seeing a CEO with the passion, vision, and ethical fiber to put environmental stewardship in high regard is refreshing and I look forward to the continued innovation.

Links worth clicking

Of local interest (MN):

  • Paul Douglas Blog – Paul provides accurate weather and forecast information as well the latest information on climate change and how it is impacting us.  Perhaps, he says it best, “My intention isn’t to alarm you or depress you but prompt you to go online and see the real scientific findings, free of ideological spin or snark.” This is the most comprehensive and consumable blog I have seen because it is so factual and provides great detail.  Pick a day and give it a read.
  • Minnesota Retiree Environmental Technical Assistance Program – RETAP is a FREE program and intended for businesses and schools interested in reducing their energy consumption.  Engineers will come to your business and do an assessment to determine ways to reduce waste, save energy, conserve water, etc.  This program is highly organized and something that every business and school in Minnesota should be taking advantage of.
  • Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment – MNCEE is a great local non-profit that brings energy solutions to homeowners as well as businesses.  You might have seen their home energy squad vehicles in your neighborhood helping install efficient lighting, programmable thermostats, insulation, and more.  Regardless of if you are a homeowner or business owner, this group can help you save energy and accelerate the return on investment for renewables.  They also sponsor the Minnesota Energy Challenge which has brought schools, businesses, and neighborhoods into friendly competition to help save energy.
  • Minnesota Renewable Energy Society – Whether you are interested in attending workshops or classes on sustainability solutions or speak to homeowners who have implemented clean energy solutions, this is a great place to start.  They have dedicated staff and you have most likely seen them at the ECO Experience at the great Minnesota get together.

General:

  • The Story of Stuff Project – This site has great information about some of the issues with our current approach to sustainability.  If you have not seen any, check out the videos Annie Leonard does under the movies section and start with the original; Story of Stuff.  Coming soon is the Story of Solutions which will recognize some of the great opportunities and work being done.
  • Citizens Climate Lobby – The CCL is a non-partisan national group with local chapters who recognizes that getting local elected officials aware of the facts is critical to getting change implemented.  Their site and group is highly organized and regardless of if you are interested in engaging a congress person or writing a letter to the editor, this is a great site to give a read.
  • Department of Energy – The DOE site has all of the information on tax credits and rebates, energy saving information, energy use per person averages, details on emerging energy solutions, and lots more public information.  The Environmental Protection Agency has similar content with an additional focus on human health impacts and you can jump over to the Energy Star website for comparison of the efficiency of new appliances and more.

Places to find factual and scientific information on  climate change:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA is a Department of Commerce agency that does weather forecasts, storm monitoring, climate monitoring and more.  They are dedicated to protecting humans and natural resources and the site is full of interesting information.  Climate.gov is also a NOAA site promoted to increasing the public understanding of climate science and climate related events.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – The IPCC is the international body of scientists in charge of assessing climate change.  Thousands of scientists from around the world contribute to the work and the assessment reports are incredibly detailed.  The IPCC is one of the primary targets of the denier community because their information is so scientifically factual and damaging to the fossil fuel industries impact on our planet.  The fifth assessment report is officially released tomorrow (Monday 9/30/13).

Fun:

  • Walk off the Earth – because sometimes sitting back and appreciating talented people is a good investment of time.  If you have never seen their videos, there are plenty to check out and be entertained by, like this one.